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Cancún, Mexico — Conservation International (CI) welcomed the news that REDD+, the mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, was officially adopted at the latest United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference in Cancún Mexico. This decision converts what — up until now — have been piecemeal efforts to address deforestation into a global endeavor.
In addition, the talks reached an historic note, by putting into place a basic framework for how all of the countries of the world will address the great climate challenge — avoiding dangerous climate change and adapting to the impacts that are already inevitable. This is the start of an ambitious program for 2012, and Cancún has pointed us in the right direction.
"This is truly a historic moment — a turning point when the nations of the Earth have stepped up to resolve the challenges that plague her, to protect forests and the wealth of ecosystem services and biodiversity that they harbor, to ensure that forest- dependent communities and all humanity have means of conserving our rich living heritage, nature for the benefit of all present and future generations," said Fred Boltz, Senior Vice President for Global Initiatives and Climate Change Lead for Conservation International. "After years of conversation, we now have a global framework for action to halt deforestation, provide for adaptation by vulnerable human and natural communities and reverse dangerous climate challenges."
Parties agreed to create a Green Climate Fund — another hard-fought issue that saw passage — and established a goal to mobilize US$100 billion per year for all climate related activities including REDD+ by 2020. While this amount is a good start — toward getting the momentum toward making REDD+ a robust and widespread program, more will be needed to make addressing climate change realistic in the long term.
While the world's climate leaders worked until the early morning hours of the final day of conference, the effects of climate change continue to take its toll on the health and well being of the planet and its inhabitants. In the last decade, the world lost an area of tropical forest half the size of Mexico. Trees are not the only victims of this destruction, in the wake of the 14 million hectares of tropical forests burned down each year it is estimated that some 16 million species populations go extinct.
The decision also established a Cancún Adaptation Framework that will help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
"The adaptation framework agreed upon in Cancún is an important first step for supporting vulnerable peoples and ecosystems as they are forced to adapt in a changing climate," said Rebecca Chacko, Climate Policy Director for Conservation International. "It is important that the framework be supporting by new, additional and adequate finance in order for meaningful implementation of adaptation action."
The success of this conference breathes new life into the climate meetings, reassures the global community of the UNFCCC's relevance. The Cancún agreement offers a path forward to next year's gathering in Durban, South Africa where issues left on the table in Cancún will be once again be brought forward.
Notes to editors:
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation "plus" conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon) aims at providing compensation to halt the deforestation and degradation of natural forests and increase their recovery and permanent conservation. REDD+ strategies and activities have great potential to contribute to environmental, economic and social goals beyond carbon storage. This approach is consistent with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change goal of achieving climate goals while contributing to sustainable development as well as other Millennium Development Goals that countries have adopted.
Conservation International (CI): Building upon a str ong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information, visit www.conservation.org