UN postpones action to halt deforestation under industry pressure

UN postpones action to halt deforestation under industry pressure

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New York: The Global Forest Coalition [1] reacted furiously to the final draft of the Sustainable Development Goals released this week. Despite the fact that most Sustainable Development Goals were agreed upon in July 2014, the latest draft, which will be adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 as the heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda [2] has suddenly been tweaked to postpone a crucial target to halt deforestation by an entire decade, from 2020 to 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals, to end poverty through sustainable development in a time bound manner through quantifiable targets.The originally proposed target 15.2 had a timeline for stopping deforestation set at 2020 [3], however, recent changes align it with the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests, where world leaders joined transnational corporations (TNCs) to reach an agreement to “cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strive to end it by 2030” [4], extending their time for continued deforestation.
“The United Nations has unfortunately decided to ‘align’ its Sustainable Development Goals with the New York Declaration signed and promoted by Unilever, McDonalds, Cargill, Nestle and other soy and palm oil companies. The world will lose an estimated 170 million hectares of forest with devastating consequences for the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities.” stated Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition from Paraguay. She further expressed that, “Promoting ‘afforestation’ could mean that natural forests and other valuable ecosystems will continue to be converted to harmful monoculture tree plantations, leading to massive forest biodiversity loss.”
A recent report that found that ‘up to 420 million acres of forest could be lost between 2010 and 2030 if current trends continue [5].
According to Global Forest Coalition Chair Diego Alejandro Cardona from Colombia, “This agreement to delay action by a decade more and prioritize corporate interests gives a “green light” to deforestation and further land grabs in the Global South.”
Global Forest Coalition also shares the concern of many other civil society organizations about the strong emphasis of the Sustainable Development Goals and the closely linked document of the Financing for Development Summit [6], which will layout the means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, on Public Private Partnerships. A recent case has shown that this engagement of the private sector has resulted in Africa being cheated out of 11 billion USD in 2010 through actions of multinational companies to reduce tax bills [7]
“It is dismaying that the UN has decided to prioritize corporate interests instead of those of forests and their inhabitants. This trend of UN policies that instead of regulating TNCs allows them free reign to destroy our planet reflects the corporate capture of the UN system.” stated GFC Campaigns Coordinator Mary Louise Malig of the Philippines. The unprecedented resurgence of corporate-driven free trade agreements combined with the UN’s corporate capture spells a grim future for forests and humanity.
Contact Information: Ashlesha Khadse , Media Coordinator, Global Forest Coalition (English, Spanish) ashlesha@globalforestcoalition.org

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