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Combatting Climate Change: $4.5 trillion needed over 10 years

…currently the world loses $6.3 trillion yearly to land degradation but restoring 300 million hectares of land by 2030 could have return of 700% to 2000% for each dollar invested

About 4.5 trillion US Dollars (4 trillion Euros) will be needed between now and 2029 at $450 billion (400 billion Euros) annually to help developing countries adapt to climate change and develop climate resiliency.

That is one of the key highlights at the Global Landscapes Forum which held December 1-2, this year in Bonn, Germany. The discussions centred on how to use public finance to counteract the effects of climate change and make 'green' economy projects risk-free and investment-ready. Participants however noted that the $450 billion needed annually will never be possible without the private sector. Buttressing that, Jane Feehan from the European Investment Bank emphasised that the bulk of ‘green’ funding must come from private institutions.  Feehan however lamented the high transaction costs for funding numerous small projects and businesses and therefore said, “We must accept that public investment has a role.” She further said that successful sustainable financial mechanisms should not be deemed ‘innovative’ but instead ‘a good idea and the right thing’ to do.

The speakers said the need for public funds is to use such to de-risk private investments and quantifiably measure investment impacts as leverage to help the world meet the 1.5-degree Celsius warning limit urged by the recent IPCC Special Report. Jyotsna Puri, head, Independent Evaluation Unit of the Green Climate Fund, said in her keynote speech that impact must be measured quantifiably, in terms of size and cost, pointing out that measurements should take into account the 'three B's' - Bias in how evidence is produced, – Benefits and using human Behaviour to design and deliver policies that work.  At a plenary of four women leaders in 'green' finance, the focus was on de-risking investments for the private sector and giving measurable market value to social and environmental impact. Sylvia Wisniwski from Finance in Motion compared this to black forest cake. In the same plenary, Ada Osakwe, Nigerian founder of Agrolay Ventures, stressed the need for early-stage capital in small-ticket–sized deals." Satya S. Tripathi, assistant secretary-general of United Nations Environment said there was no way around the fact that private finance/private sector would play a key role in creating sustainable landscapes. “This is why we need to step out of our comfort zone and find ways to collaborate with private actors, even with those who are misbehaving, so we can get them on the right track,” he stated.

Fe Cortez, founder of Menos 1 Lixo, an initiative that seeks to reduce the use of plastic, said,    "Touching people's hearts is how you change their behaviour, and this is the only way to create long-lasting change." Participants at the forum reiterated that productive and intact landscapes were key to managing the escalating threats posed by climate change.  Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry stressed the importance of tropical peatlands as carbon sinks that must be protected, highlighting a new global research centre on these landscapes soon to open in Indonesia.  

2018 Right Livelihood Award laureates, a Burkinabe farmer, Yacouba Sawadogo and Tony Rinaudo, a World Vision advisor, explained the simple, low-cost methodologies they have each developed to restore degraded African drylands, which have impacted the lives of rural populations. Sawadogo, known as ‘the man who stopped the desert,’ has devoted his life to restoring land fertility by planting trees in his native Burkina Faso, inspiring many other farmers in this and other countries to do the same. “I gave up everything, all my time and belongings, to dedicate myself to the land. At 72, I only own a donkey and a cart. My one wealth is the forest I planted,” he said. Rinaudo, specialist in natural resources management at World Vision, has been championing a restoration technique known as Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). After working for decades with countries such as Niger, he has realised: ‘The first step to re-greening landscapes is re-greening mindscapes.’ Youth leaders of tree-planting, agriculture and waste-reducing movements such as Nana Osei-Darko, who launched the Green Republic Project in Ghana this year, spoke about climate change in terms of a violent conflict that needs reconciliation. Also, Felix Finkbeiner, 21-year-old founder of Plant-for-the-Planet, which has mobilised youths around the world to achieve its mission of planting 1 trillion trees, announced a new platform that allows investors to find and directly fund tree-planting initiatives.  

Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) noted that the cost of inaction was much higher than the cost of investing financially in landscape sustainability. “The world is losing an estimated USD 6.3 trillion (5.5 trillion Euros) to land degradation every year; yet, meeting the goal of restoring 300 million hectares of land by 2030 could have a return of USD 7 to 20 (700percent to 2000percent) for each dollar invested. The world needs decisive action,” Nasi said in his closing remarks, adding that, “Research is important, but we now know enough to understand that there is a problem and that we need to solve it – enough to know what we have to do.” Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary of the German Ministry for the Environment, agreed with Nasi’s sense of urgency, saying, “Without a sustainable land use sector, let’s forget about meeting any of the global climate, biodiversity and sustainable development targets.”

In a recent study, the World Bank tracked the wealth of countries taking into account built, human and natural capital. What they found was that natural capital accounts for an average of 9% of wealth globally, but up to 47% in low-income countries. “This means that more efficient management of land resources is key to the sustainable development of countries,” said Karin Kemper, senior director for the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice at the World Bank, adding that: “To understand how countries become wealthier in a sustainable way, we need to go beyond their Gross Domestic Product and take into account their natural capital.”  The forum highlighted that better integrating landscape interventions into national economic development plans can make strides in changing consumers’ behaviour; increasing transparency of supply chains; and equipping producers to develop investment-ready and financially attractive projects. Joan Carling, co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development pinpointed the cross-cutting issue of rights, and particularly, those of local communities and indigenous people, whose territories host 80% of the world’s biodiversity. In the face of a growing global population and climate change, implementing these and other strategies cannot wait, believes Stefan Schmitz, deputy director-general and commissioner for the One World – No Hunger initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).”We need to empower people to achieve sustainable food systems, bearing in mind they live in spaces, not in sectors. We need to shift from thinking in sectors to thinking in landscapes,” Schmitz maintains.

The #GLFBonn2018 included 7 plenaries, 19 discussion forums, side events and livestreamed digital sessions. It also included launch of a new book on the state of REDD+ which was established 10 years ago.     #thinklandscape

By OLUYINKA ALAWODE

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