Press release: 2 November 2021

Media reaction: World leaders commit to ending deforestation by 2030

Today at COP26, over 100 world leaders have announced their commitment to ending deforestation by 2030.

Brian Rohan, Head of Forests at ClientEarth, said:

“The commitment from world leaders promising to end deforestation by 2030 is a positive step forward. It is particularly encouraging that it has been signed by both countries that import forest commodities like the UK, and those that export them like Brazil and Indonesia.”

“But for it to translate into action, this commitment needs teeth. The New York Declaration of 2014 made a lot of promises to reduce deforestation. But without including binding measures, it failed to halt deforestation in any meaningful way.

“For this agreement to be different, it must first address how deforestation is defined and measured. For example, we know that replacing mature forests with plantations won’t protect or restore biodiversity.

“And declaring ‘legal’ deforestation to be exempt is a false solution. The UK Government has proposed this approach in the Environment Bill, which creates a strong incentive for countries to water down their legal frameworks to allow more deforestation to occur. Deforestation should mean all deforestation: whether it comes from timber extraction, production of agricultural commodities like beef, soy and palm, or mining.

“Increased protection for local communities and Indigenous people must also be included. They have proven to be better at conserving forests than many governments, but are routinely prevented from proper land tenure and management rights, as well as barred from meaningful livelihood opportunities. As part of this declaration, forested countries should commit to making legislative changes that give proper rights to these groups.

“To ensure countries live up to their promises, robust monitoring is essential. Satellite and other geo-spatial monitoring should be used as an unambiguous arbiter of when and where deforestation occurs. Local organisations should be encouraged, funded, and protected as they report on ground conditions.

“Finally, accountability measures must be built into the way funds are allocated to prevent backsliding on the commitment. With billions pledged, there should be clear processes for how funds are disbursed, to ensure countries are undergoing effective enforcement, passing needed legislative reforms, and allowing for transparent participation from civil society.”


Notes to editors:
  • In 2014, a coalition of governments, companies, civil society and indigenous people organisations signed up to the New York Declaration on Forests, which pledged to half the rate of deforestation by 2020.
  • In September, ClientEarth sent a joint letter to the UK Prime Minister on how the Environment Bill must be strengthened to address the UK's deforestation footprint overseas.
About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.