The United Nations have convened in Paris for the 21st Climate Change Conference of Parties. As a delegate with the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) I have participated in this significant conference joined by more than 30,000 delegates from countries all around the world. Until the end of this week, negotiators have time to develop a legally binding agreement including
- long-term climate action goals to keep global warming below 1.5°C,
- a five-year review mechanism and
- systems to ensure transparency and accountability of the countries.
Studying forestry science at TU Munich, I have focussed on discussions about the protection and restoration of global forests. The biggest side event to COP with about 3,200 participants, the Global Landscapes Forum, was centred on how to efficiently protect landscapes, but also how to sustainable manage them. One major challenge here is to reconcile seemingly differing land use goals (such as food security, economic growth, energy production, watershed protection, biodiversity, climate mitigation, timber production, etc.).
Huge pledges have been made by single countries and communities of states to define financial streams and quantitative goals of reforestation efforts. For example, the goals of the Bonn Challenge have been ramped up to restore at least 350 Million hectares degraded and deforested land by 2030. In order to achieve such goals, Norway, the UK and Germany have declared to provide 5 Billion US Dollars by 2020.
This money is strongly needed. There are about 57 Million hectares of degraded and barren land in Indonesia. Now, the governments have to create frameworks to enable large scale reforestation to bring back the forests and to make the land arable. Fairventures’ activities in Borneo conform the integrative landscape approach that was propagated both during the climate conference and the Global Landscape Forum. Hereby, it is crucial to involve the local population to sustainably achieve economic and also ecological goals.
Personally, participating in this conference in Paris was an impressive experience. I have learned about the political standpoints of various countries and have had the chance to meet some of the decision makers. From an external viewpoint, it seems that negotiations at such a large conference proceed slowly, which is not surprising due to the variety of participants. However, what is much more fruitful overall, are the plenty private encounters, dozens of information booths hosted by different organizations and countless thematic side events. These occasions surely enabled my successful participation in this conference.