The launch of the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership during the World Leaders’ Summit (WLS) on 7 November at the UNFCCC COP 27 in Egypt set the tone for high ambition and action on forests throughout the rest of the conference and for promises beyond COP. Following the launch, the FCLP held its first ministerial meeting on 12 November; led by Ghana’s Honorable Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Jinapor and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry; with leaders from the 28 member countries, including the EU. Members discussed the partnership’s priorities to mobilize and scale up action on forests and its governance structure and timeline.
Days after the first FCLP ministerial meeting, key architects of the FCLP who played a critical role in the success of the first meeting shared their fresh insights at the UNDP pavilion on 14 November. This conversation provided a unique opportunity to hear directly from the two sherpas to the co-chairs of the FCLP, Roselyn Fosuah Adjei (Director for Climate Change and REDD+ Coordinator at Ghana’s Forestry Commission) and Chris Dragisic (Branch Chief, Partnerships & Initiatives at US State Department), as well as Tom Clements (Strategic Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, UK DEFRA) and Marleine Saira Flora (Community Action by Congo Indigenous Women). Roselyn and Chris played critical roles in facilitating their governments’ engagement in the FCLP and supporting the leadership of Ghana and the US. Tom was instrumental in mobilizing the FCLP after the signing of the 2021 Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land Use (GLD) while Marleine was the Indigenous Youth representative who addressed leaders during the WLS and shared her essential perspective on the implications for Indigenous peoples and the need to partner with them. The discussion was facilitated by Charlotte Streck of Climate Focus, lead organization of the Forest Declaration Assessment.
“The will that I heard on Saturday and the excitement and desire to work together was inspiring.”- Chris Dragisic
Below are the key takeaways and exclusive insights from these architects:
At COP26 in Glasgow, more than 140 Heads of State from countries with over 90% of the world’s forests committed to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use (GLD), promising to work together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation. The Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, a mechanism to deliver these commitments, includes 28 member countrieswith Ministerial-level representation who commit to create collective consensus on how to drive progress towards the 2030 target and provide leadership in at least one of the priority action areas. Regarding other non-governmental stakeholders, Chris outlined three potential opportunities for engagement: 1) through an advisory committee made up of non-government partners; 2) partners of the initiatives and action areas whose experiences provide essential contributions; and 3) through the yearly high-level political moments to share other perspectives and key voices.
The Forests & Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), initially announced at New York Climate Week in September 2022 and officially launched at COP27 during the World Leaders’ Summit on November 7th, was created to enhance cooperation on delivering the 2030 forest commitments to scale ambition and find innovative solutions to ongoing problems. Roselyn summarized well the significance of this partnership:
“So many years have passed without having any substantial pathway in how we bring forest countries together, FCLP is providing a platform for support to already ongoing action in countries towards achieving Glasgow goals.”
Roselyn Fosuah Adjei
The six FCLP’s action areas include: (1) sustainable land use economy and supply chains; (2) mobilising public and donor finance to support implementation; (3) shifting the private finance system; (4) supporting initiatives led by Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities; (5) strengthening and scaling carbon markets for forests; and (6) building international partnerships and incentives to preserve high-integrity forests.
The FCLP will operate with rotating co-chairs and regular consultations and avenues for non-state actors like private sector and Indigenous peoples to engage. The first co-chairs are the USA & Ghana. Countries that join are committing to lead by example in the implementation of their national goals and striving to be more ambitious over time. They also commit to work together to advance global forests and climate efforts, and to meet annually to take stock of progress. Tom laid out the three essential elements of this partnership: accountability and transparency by taking stock of progress, scaling up action by addressing challenges through partnership, and maintaining political momentum through yearly high-level events at each climate COP until 2030. Further, Marleine reminded partners about the importance of action and transparency in a landscape with “too many speeches” and the essential role of women as key partners:
“We want to implement a mechanism and framework where land and forest legislation are linked to the way of life of local peoples. Where there is value in the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and respect for free and informed consent in accordance to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people...There is a misunderstanding that Indigenous peoples cannot managed our funds or are not organized — we are quite well organized. What we want is transparency. We no longer want speeches or things that are not clear... We want public hearings with women and young people being heard. Most of the time, women are set aside and told we are not entitled to speak — this is no longer how we want to exist.”
Marleine Saira Flora
In Chris’s response to this issue of accountability and transparency, which also came from the audience, she notes:
“There is a reason we put this in a high-level setting. There is a reason there is reporting on the pledges made...There is a reason we have a website where we’ll be talking about what we do. So that people can see what we do. Not only we as members can say to each other – ‘hey you need to step it up’ but so other stakeholders know what’s being done and can ask questions. Pure transparency is the best tool we have... You can expect a real focus on when we set out to do something we are following through and letting people know what we’ve achieved and where we’re falling short. “ - Chris Dragisic
What’s Next / When?
The timeline and process are still being confirmed but the details below outline the next steps for the FCLP.
- A few weeks after COP 27: members will submit their feedback on the priority action areas and the governance structure.
- Mid-January 2023: New initiatives for the priority action areas will be launched, with key partners engaged, in mid-January 2023.
- Early 2023: A steering committee will be established and will have its first meetings.
- Mid-2023: Mid-year check-in to assess how it’s going.
- Every year at UNFCCC COP until 2023: High-level event to showcase the commitments and actions towards forests and maintain the political momentum.
“We need a process that is efficient and also serves the interest of driving forward action” - Chris Dragisic
“We do not want to arrive at 2029 and realize that all the countries have not met their targets and we have just one year. So, really having the FCLP providing that support...putting in place that structure to curb, as much as possible, disappointment in 2030. A platform for partnership, support, collaboration.” - Roselyn Fosuah Adjei
To wrap up the session, Tim Clairs, head of UNDP’s Climate and Forests team, provided closing remarks, thanking the panelists for making the time to share their insights at the UNDP Pavilion. He reconfirmed UNDP's support to the FCLP, noting the agreement with the Government of Germany to provide initial funding for the interim secretariat.
Watch the full recording of the session here: COP27: Walking the Talk on Forest & Climate Commitments - YouTube