Norway pledges more money to fight deforestation worldwide
“The future of the planet depends on our common ability to both protect and restore forests at an unprecedented scale, while simultaneously increasing agricultural production to meet growing global needs.”
- Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.
Last year on May 26, conservationists worldwide rejoiced when Norway became the first country in the world to ban deforestation. The landmark decision was simply the latest effort in the Scandinavian country’s support for sustainability and conservation. During the recent World Economic Forum, Norway announced something else that gives new hope to conservationists - a fund that will allow small-scale farmers to invest in deforestation-free agriculture. The good news? A few multinational food conglomerates want in as well.
About 2.3 million square kilometres of Brazilian rainforest were cut down between 2000 and 2012. (photo credit: Newsweek)
Research conducted by the World Economic Forum has identified agriculture as a major culprit of deforestation in Brazil, a country that contains most of the world’s remaining tropical rainforests. Just to remind you of the numbers, about 2.3 million square kilometres of forest were cut down between 2000 and 2012. The bulk of agricultural practices, especially by small subsistence farmers, tends to favour cutting down sections of rainforest which of course leads to deforestation.
The new fund will be formally set up later this year to protect over five million hectares of forests and peatlands by 2020. Norway hopes the fund will assist other countries in meeting their targets agreed upon at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
“The future of the planet depends on our common ability to both protect and restore forests at an unprecedented scale, while simultaneously increasing agricultural production to meet growing global needs,” said Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.
“It’s extremely important that we join forces to protect forests and peatlands and therefore our climate. We’re delighted to have the fund in place, and it’s especially important that we also have the private sector on board.”
- Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UNEP
The Norwegian government has pledged US$100 million to the fund and they’re hoping it will reach US$400 million by 2020 with the help of the private sector. The Global Environment Facility, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative have also joined the partnership along with food giant Unilever, whose promise of $25 million has got many conservationists’ hopes that other multinational corporations will participate. Carrefour, Marks & Spencer, Mars and Nestlé have also shown interest but haven’t pledged any concrete figures yet.
The recent gold rush in the Guyanan rainforests has caused friction between humans and jaguars - the only big cat native to South America. (photo credit: National Geographic)
Norway has been very busy assisting other countries in their conservation efforts. The country’s many commitments include 1.2 billion Norwegian crowns (about US$214 million) annually to support REDD efforts in Brazil and Tanzania and a US$250 million commitment to protect Guyana's rainforests which the South American nation received over a four-year period from 2011 to 2015. In 2015, Norway even paid US$ one billion to Brazil as part of an agreement between the two countries to help the latter combat deforestation.
Speaking with regards to the new farmers’ fund, Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UNEP said, “It’s extremely important that we join forces to protect forests and peatlands and therefore our climate. We’re delighted to have the fund in place, and it’s especially important that we also have the private sector on board.”