Colombia signs first major deal made at COP26 to end and reverse deforestation by 2030

Over 110 world leaders including Colombia, at COP26 Climate Summit sign the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use which commits to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. It was the first major COP26 deal you can see the declaration and list of countries here

The statement also contains a pledge to reinforce the role of indigenous people in protecting their forests. According to studies, protecting the rights of native communities is one of the best ways of saving forests.

The governments of the UK, US, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands took a leading role at COP26 by pledging $1.7bn (£1.25bn) funding, as part of ambitious global efforts to reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

The agreement to end deforestation appears to be quite weak however in that it states, “[w]e will strengthen our shared efforts to” and then goes on to list some strong statements. However, the weakness appears in the words ‘strengthen our efforts’, not ‘commit to’.

Could this be the first COP to champion indigenous peoples’ rights?

Point five of the deforestation agreement states:

“Reaffirm international financial commitments and significantly increase finance and investment from a wide variety of public and private sources, while also improving its effectiveness and accessibility, to enable sustainable agriculture, sustainable forest management, forest conservation and restoration, and support for Indigenous Peoples and local communities…”

If the signatories to this agreement do implement the six point agenda which includes point five, recognising the importance of local communities and indigenous peoples then we might be at a different moment in time from the declaration in 2014 in New York.

The New York Declaration on Forests had 200 endorsers at the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2014. It was a voluntary political declaration with ambitious targets to end forest loss. However, it failed to even slow deforestation.  

This new pledge the “Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use” includes $19.2bn (£14bn) of finance with at least $1.7bn for direct allocation to indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in recognition of their key role in protecting the planet’s lands and forests. Very little finance for climate change is directed at local and indigenous communities some claim as little as less than 1%

Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use and the Leaders Pledge for Nature

Colombia has signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use at COP26 it also signed the Leaders Pledge for Nature at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in September 2020, which committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. Both of these pledges are good news for Choco that is one of the top ten biodiversity hotspots on the planet with lush rainforests and mangrove costal forests. It is the breeding ground for humpback whales and sea turtles amongst a plethora of other wildlife, fauna and flora.

It is therefore essential that Colombia demonstrates its commitment to these two international pledges by fully implementing the Constitutional Court decision that gave rights to the River Atrato (T-622 of 2015), which is gives concrete orders to the state to protect the forests, rivers and biodiversity of Choco and fulfil their obligations in terms of human rights to the five indigenous tribes and the Afro-Colombian communities in Choco that make up over 90% of the population. If Colombia does not demonstrate by concrete actions and by initiating specific concrete projects in discussion with the indigenous and afro-Colombian communities of Choco, then we can take it that these commitments are GREEN WASH.

What does this mean in practice for Choco?

The communities and the former Colombian Environment Mininster agreed an Environmental Action Plan BUT

  • there is no dedicated funding for its implementation,
  • there are no concrete projects with budget lines attached

How is it possible to implement a plan without a budget? If Colombia has a commitment to biodiversity and stopping forest loss then it must allocate a budget to the environmental action plan.

If you are interested in seeing what the leaders of nations are doing to implement these two agreements then monitor with us what happens in Choco, Colombia. Is any climate finance going to Choco? Start asking your MPs is climate finance going from the UK to implement the Choco Environmental Action Plan Ordered by the Colombian Constitutional Court in Sentence T-622.