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Andrew Burger headshot

PwC: Greater Collaboration Needed to Achieve Zero Net Deforestation


Reducing deforestation and land degradation are key elements of realizing the goals of U.N. climate change and biodiversity conservation treaties. Pledging to cut the loss of forests worldwide in half by 2020 and to zero by 2030, 130 governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples' organizations endorsed the “New York Declaration on Forests” during the U.N. Climate Summit 2014 this past September.

Reducing and ultimately ending deforestation and land degradation is inextricably linked with government and private property owners' decisions on land use and development, as well as the broad social and environmental responsibilities of property ownership. Despite decades of multilateral effort, the necessary top-down and grass roots communications networks, coordinated resource allocation, and funding have yet to coalesce and gain traction at a scope and scale necessary to achieve these goals.

The lack of cross-sectoral and inter-organizational coordination is apparent even within the small community of leading global deforestation organizations, PwC highlights in “Ending deforestation: REDD+ CGF = 0 Deforestation.” “Whilst there are individual examples of the CGF (Consumer Goods Forum) and REDD+ (Reducing Deforestation and Degradation) community working together, there has not yet been systematic collaboration on a large scale. This is despite the fact that 100 percent of CGF and REDD+ organizations recently surveyed by PwC and Code REDD thought that the two communities should be working closer than they are now.”

Building on the New York Declaration on Forests

Broad-based endorsement of the “New York Declaration on Forests” by “dozens of governments, 30 of the world's biggest companies and [more than 50 influential civil and indigenous organizations” marked a milestone in the decades-long effort to end deforestation, the U.N. states in a summary of announcements related to forests at the U.N. Climate Summit 2014.

Highlighting announcement of the “New York Declaration on Forests” specifically, the U.N. stated:

“For the first time, world leaders endorse a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strive to end it by 2030. It also calls for restoring forests and croplands of an area larger than India.

Cutting the global rate of deforestation in half and to zero will have multiple spillover benefits, including mitigating climate change and helping protect vital water resources, as well as conserving agricultural topsoil and biodiversity. “Meeting these goals would cut between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon pollution every year – about as much as the current emissions of the United States,” the U.N. highlighted.

“Time is running short,” PwC warns. Furthermore, overcoming at least six pivotal challenges is essential if  Zero Net Deforestation goals are to be achieved, the multinational management consulting company asserts:

  1. Achieving supply chain traceability to the farm;

  2. Gathering data on whether or not the production has, or will, lead to deforestation;

  3. Engaging local governments where problems are identified;

  4. Certifying producers to demonstrate they are not clearing the forest;

  5. Signing clear and fair agreements between the buyers and producers;

  6. Measuring and monitoring to track on-going performance.
Achieving zero net deforestation

Encouragingly, the U.N.'s creation of REDD+ in 2007 marked a pivotal turning point in the multilateral effort to end deforestation by instituting a global financial mechanism that monetizes the value of forest conservation via markets for stored carbon credits, according to PwC.

Three years later, 400 companies with combined revenue of $3 trillion – the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) – in 2010 set a goal of achieving Zero Net Deforestation from four key commodities: soy, palm oil, pulp and paper, and cattle products, PwC notes. Taken together, production of soy, palm oil, pulp and paper, and cattle products are responsible for about half the deforestation that has been taking place worldwide.

While both CGF and REDD+ could bring a wealth of resources to bear and can point out individual examples of success, the global  Zero Net Deforestation effort would benefit significantly from a greater degree of inter-organizational communication and coordination between the two, PwC asserts.

The global management consultancy says it is keen to help “our clients make that connection.” In line with the goals set out in the “New York Declaration on Forests,” it's soliciting inquiries across its globe-spanning client base in an effort to help them contribute to the goal of achieving Zero Net Deforestation by 2030. Those interested should get in touch with Jon Williams, a Partner in PwC's Sustainability & Climate Change practice.

*Image credits: 1) U.N. REDD+; 2) U.N. New York Declaration on Forests; 3) Code REDD; 4)U.N. Climate Summit 2014

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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