Forests managed by IPs store more CO2; vital in fight against climate change
SAN FRANCISCO, California — Forests and rural lands owned and managed by indigenous peoples (IPs) and rural communities capture nearly 300,000 million metric tons of carbon into the ground annually—the equivalent of carbon emissions from 45,000 households per year.
Amid rapid deforestation and threats to land rights, IPs and rural communities manage forests that are able to store carbon more efficiently and regrow forests faster than governments and businesses—a vital yet “underappreciated” solution to climate change, according to a report by think tank Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) that was released during the Global Climate Action Summit being held in San Francisco, California.
$459 million for forest conservation
Despite the potential to reduce global emissions by one-third of what is needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030, forests only receive 3% of all public funding for climate action, the RRI said. 1.5°C or “well below 2°C“ is the ideal scenario for the global rise in temperature that is enshrined in the Paris Agreement—the landmark climate accord designed to fight climate change.
Recognizing the unrealized potential of reforestation in the fight against climate change, nine US-based philanthropic foundations have pledged $459 million for the conservation of forests and the protection of IPs land rights.
“If we continue to treat forests and lands as infinite and expendable resources, science shows that people and the planet will suffer—and we won’t achieve our climate goals, ” said Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, one of the foundations pledging finance for forest conservation until 2022.
“IPs did not cause climate change yet they suffer the most” — Tauli-Corpuz
IPs and activists continue to experience violence, according to UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
According to Global Witness, 207 land and environmental defenders were killed last year globally. In the Philippines, there were 48 deaths recorded of environmental activists.
“IPs did not contribute to the cause of climate change yet they suffer the most because they live in fragile ecosystems,” UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said.
The way to move forward, Tauli-Corpuz said, is to safeguard the rights of IPs and ensure that the money for forest conservation goes directly to the communities.
“We need to ensure that IP rights are recognized in the discussions on climate solutions,” she said.
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