REDD+ Talks: Leaders from Business, UN and Forest Communities Highlight a Promising Mechanism to Tackle Climate Change
Leaders from the private, public and civil society sectors convened at REDD+ Talks: NYC to discuss their experiences of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the role of the private sector in harnessing this critical mechanism to tackle deforestation and climate change.
Held on 18 September at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, the event provided a platform for high-level REDD+ practitioners and leaders of the businesses policy worlds, indigenous peoples, and forest communities, to exchange experiences and explore the contributions the private sector can make to REDD+ through finance, sustainable operations, project investment, and sharing expertise.
Hundreds of invited guests gathered to hear noted speakers including Heikki Holmås, Norway’s Minister of International Development, and Edward Norton, the Oscar-nominated actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity.
“We all share a responsibility to address deforestation together, and that success is only possible if we work together towards shared objectives,” Minister Holmås said. “The private sector plays a key role for creating such green economic development that does not lead to deforestation.”
Speakers expressed deep appreciation for Norway’s courageous leadership in supporting REDD+ and its role in inspiring actors in the civil society, public and private sectors.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said, "REDD+ has over five years achieved a great deal and has secured support and finance from several governments such as Norway,” Steiner said. “But if the self-evident and multiple benefits of this initiative are to be fully realized we need a scaling up and acceleration of ambition from governments but also responsible investors prepared to support safeguards for local and indigenous peoples."
Private sector leaders expressed their commitment to acting as agents of change by driving industry-wide action to address climate impacts and place sustainability at the forefront of their business models.
Microsoft’s Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, TJ DiCaprio, said: "We are part of the problem. We also need to be part of the solution. We needed to get our own house in order first and clean-‐up our own operations. In order to do that, our reductions in carbon emissions had to go to zero."
Kanyinke Sena, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, underlined the urgent need to protect forests and the central role REDD+ can play: “The idea of REDD+ is meant to plug the leaks to enable humanity to continue breathing and drinking. This idea must therefore be supported by anyone who loves life and nature … The time to act is now.”
The UN‐REDD Programme and the other organizers of the REDD+ Talks: NYC, Code REDD, CSRwire, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Wildlife Works, expressed their hope that the dynamic conversations heard at the event will inspire the incorporation of REDD+ as an essential part of any comprehensive climate change mitigation plan and sustainable development strategy.