At the UN Climate Summit in Lima seven Latin American and Caribbean countries pledged to replant 20 million hectares of forest (an area larger than Uruguay) by 2020 in what’s known as “Initiative 20×20”.
Initiative 20×20 will support the Bonn Challenge, which is a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares of land around the world by 2020 – a cause led by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Over 40% (650 million hectares) of forests in Latin America and the Caribbean have been
deforested or degraded in recent years.
Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the most ecologically valuable forest ecosystems in the world. However, 20% of forest lands (nearly 350 mha) have been completely deforested and 20% have been (300 mha) badly degraded, according to the WRI.
A forest burned in southern Mexico for agriculture – an example of deforestation that’s occurred in the region.
Experts believe that Latin America and the Caribbean contain regions that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Mexico made the biggest pledge by promising to restore 8.5 million hectares. Peru pledged to restore 3.2 million hectares, Guatemala promised to restore 1.2 million hectares, and Colombia said it would restore one million hectares.
Ecuador promised 500,000 hectares, Chile another 100,000, and Costa Rica 50,000.
Private investments from development banks, philanthropies and individuals have funded the project with $365 million so far.
The World Resources Institute says:
“The initiative will support reforestation (natural and assisted), conservation of forests as well as avoided deforestation as elements of an integral restoration process. Cognizant of the various degrees of land degradation in the region, the initiative will also support efforts to recover land functionality (soil conservation and recovery; carbon storage; water retention and stable hydrologies; biodiversity conservation and recovery) through agroforestry, silvopastures, and other sustainable land use schemes.”
The Three Activities of Initiative 20×20:
- Inspire national commitments to restoration by engaging in a robust dialogue with Ministers of Agriculture and Environment in the region;
- Make the economic case by assessing the societal benefits from restoration and avoided deforestation; and
- Establish a financial mechanism that allows private sector impact investors to fund restoration projects
Walter Vergara, Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute, speaks about Initiative 20×20: