As Only Proven, Large-Scale Solution Available to Sequester Carbon, Forests Central to Meeting Climate Objectives

A significant number of governments will sign the Paris Agreement on 22 April, which includes an explicit call to developed and developing countries to conserve and enhance forests and other biological carbon reservoirs. If governments representing at least 55 percent of the global annual carbon emissions ratify the Agreement, it will go into force. But, even if the big greenhouse gas emitters-China, India and US-walk the talk, the world will still need strong commitments to forests in order to reach the stated climate objectives.

Currently, forest and land use contribute only 25 percent of the total emissions reductions pledged so far by governments in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Agreement, but they could contribute much more, given their huge potential to act as carbon sinks, safely removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

In light of this, indigenous leaders and experts in tropical forest research, together with climate change activist and actor Alec Baldwin and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, will discuss new research on how forest conservation and restoration on a global scale can help to limit warming to below two degrees Celsius and achieve global carbon neutrality. They will also discuss the implications of the formal signing of the Paris Climate Agreement.

WHO: Alec Baldwin, Actor and Activist

Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

Diana Rios, Indigenous Ashaninka Leader, Peru

Mina Setra, Indigenous Dayak Leader, Indonesia

Frances Seymour, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Alexander Soros, Founder, Alexander Soros Foundation

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

WHEN: Thursday 21 April, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (Breakfast at 8:30 a.m.)

WHERE: Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd St, New York, NY 10017, East River Room (11th Floor)

Secure rights to indigenous and community-held land protect against deforestation and can generate significant large-scale returns-economically, socially and environmentally. New research on the status of land rights in country commitments (NDCs) will also be released. Forests owned and managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities contain approximately 37.7 billion tons of carbon-29 times more than the annual emissions of the world's passenger vehicles.

Despite government and corporate commitments to respect Indigenous Peoples' rights and prevent deforestation, there has been an uptick in violence against indigenous leaders who oppose projects that threaten their communities and their forests. The murder of Berta Caceres in Honduras last month; of Edwin Chota, Jorge Rios, and two other Asheninka leaders in Peru in 2014; and the 26 March attack on Equator Prize 2015 winner from Cambodia, Ms. Phan Sopheak, are emblematic of battles taking place in some of the most remote indigenous territories worldwide. Rios' daughter, Diana, will be among the speakers at the event.

Source: United Nations Development Programme