Foreword Foreword Foreword

Forests are increasingly recognized as the largest, most ready-to-go nature-based solution to the planetary emergencies – of climate, biodiversity, inequality, and now a global health crisis. Forests’ massive mitigation potential is critical to addressing the climate emergency, as they can provide approximately one-third of the carbon reduction needed to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.

Keeping the world’s forests standing also helps protect humans from zoonotic diseases, including coronaviruses. Their destruction has devastating consequences not only for climate change and biodiversity loss but also for global public health. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+), provide opportunities to both recovers from COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics. The mitigation potential of forests can only be fully realized by urgent and unprecedented multilateral consensus in a decade of action and of drastically elevated ambition, to ‘turn the tide on deforestation’.

While 2020 was meant to be the Super Year for Nature, the COVID-19 pandemic put plans on pause. With many of the global milestones originally scheduled for 2020 now shifted to 2021, this year provides a formidable opportunity to advance the forest agenda. There is greater urgency and understanding of the need for ambition, and there are already signs of progress. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are high on the agenda for the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as the G7 and G20 leaders, with forests front and center.

Drastically reducing deforestation and systematically restoring forests and other ecosystems is the single largest nature-based opportunity for climate mitigation.

António Guterres, UN Secretary General

By conserving and restoring forests, we protect important carbon sinks and provide economic benefits for future generations.

John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change

When we lose forests, we don’t just’ lose green space or natural habitat. We lose a key ally in our fight against climate change.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

The UNFCCC COP-26, rescheduled to November 2021, provides a unique opportunity to make forests an exemplar of climate-mitigation actions, with multiple benefits, at scale. We need to focus efforts to scale up ambition, action, and finance to protect and restore forests. With the COP-26 set to take place between conferences of the parties of the other Rio conventions, on biodiversity and desertification, there is also the opportunity to weave a narrative for nature through the series of global milestones to deliver multiple benefits for climate mitigation, adaptation, biodiversity, jobs and beyond.

With more than a decade of experience, the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) is uniquely positioned to support this ambition to unleash the full potential of forest solutions for the climate, biodiversity, and COVID-19 recovery agendas, paving the way for a decade of action during the coming Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, declared by the UN Secretary-General for the period 2021 to 2030. Since 2008, the UN-REDD Programme has supported more than 65 countries in designing national and sub-national REDD+ policies and on-the-ground interventions, as well as facilitating the identification and establishment of financial arrangements to capture and manage results-based financing. UN-REDD has been instrumental in strengthening national forest monitoring and greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting systems and structures, as well as in fostering social and environmental resilience while promoting social inclusion, gender equality, and the realization of human rights for local communities and indigenous peoples. The highly participatory and inclusive REDD+ preparatory processes, supported by the UN-REDD Programme, have led to policies that improve rural livelihoods and foster greener, more resilient, sustainable and productive forests and rural landscapes.

We will succeed by working together: reconnecting people and nature to implement effectively the 2015 Paris Agreement and its commitment to limit global warming, thereby securing a sustainable future for all. As always, the progress and the value of the Programme are based on the genuine partnership approach of all its member countries, donors, civil society and indigenous peoples who, through the work and commitment during the year, have made this progress possible. The Programme will continue to build on the best-practice approaches, innovations and complementary experience of its three partner entities – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – to deliver as ‘One United Nations’, providing the team of technical experts, coupled with the convening power of the UN, which has underpinned the success of UN-REDD since its inception.

Mette Wilkie

Director of Forestry
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Pradeep Kurukulasuriya

Director - Nature, Climate and Energy
Executive Coordinator - Environmental Finance
BPPS/GPN, United Nations Development Programme

Susan Gardner

Director, Ecosystems Division
United Nations Environment Programme