Tropical Timber Accord launches at COP26

A major new proposal to tackle illegal deforestation and strengthen legal governance frameworks in tropical forest producer countries and within international timber supply chains has been launched at COP26.

Billed as a “Call to Action” from the global private sector involved in forest management and timber production globally, the Tropical Timber Accord – “Global Forests need Global Governance” – highlights that strong, inclusive legal frameworks are essential for the sustainable management of tropical forests and underpin all other climate policy ambitions relating to tropical forests.

The Accord has been produced from a series of workshops with trade associations and businesses throughout the tropical production belt and facilitated and led by the UK Timber Trade Federation. It is also supported by associations in consumer nations including China, Europe and the UK. It is the first time that the global private sector of the forestry management and timber production industry has come together to speak with one united voice to advocate for greater global governance and enforceable legal frameworks in supply chains and within producer forest countries.

Tropical forests are in danger as never before. Global forest cover is falling worldwide while greenhouse gas emissions as a direct result of deforestation increase. At least twelve percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to tropical forest deforestation and degradation (World Bank, 2021) largely caused by agricultural expansion. Global strategies to halt deforestation or forest degradation to date have had significant ambitions for climate mitigation but have fallen short of their ambitions.

The tropical timber sector has a key role in achieving the forest management and conservation goals of COP26. However, the private sector, Governments and civil society in producer and consumer countries must come together to establish relationships promoting governance and sustainable management to achieve this.

David Hopkins, CEO of the UK Timber Trade Federation, launched the Tropical Timber Accord at COP26 at the UK Pavilion in the Blue Zone immediately after the World Leaders Summit Forest and Land Use session on Tuesday 2nd November. The timing of the launch highlights the importance of governance for tropical forests and the urgent need to put governance and our forests on the climate agenda.

David was joined by Sheam Satkuru, Director of Operations for the International Tropical Timber Organisation; Vel Gnanendran, Climate and Environment Director of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; Ghislain Moussavou, Director General of Forests, Gabon; Minister Matondo, Minister of the Forest Economy, Republic of Congo. The session will also include a pre-recorded message from Lord Zac Goldsmith.

Sheam Satkuru, Director of Operations ITTO said that the international tropical timber agreement 2006 is an established legal framework and a partnership between producers and consumers. Protecting and sustainably managing tropical forests cannot be left to “one-sided” approaches, but must be incentivised through continual dialogue and resources which supports sustainable production, commits to sustainable consumption and shares the cost of enforcement.

“The tropical timber and forest sector has a key role in achieving the forest management and conservation goals of COP26, and this requires the private sector, governments and civil society coming together to promote governance and sustainable management of resources.”

Panelists highlighted the importance of tropical forests for COP26 climate mitigation objectives and the need to strengthen legality, sustainability and governance across supply chains in the tropical belt. Governments can and must play a critical role in establishing governance conditions in-country reforms, as well as working with international parties and the private sector.

David Hopkins, CEO of the TTF, said, “It was fantastic to see the pledges being made in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, and the other commitments being made toward ending illegal deforestation throughout the world. Now we need to start to put some of the detail behind those pledges into action, with a far stronger global legal framework governing the management of forests and the supply chains through international trade.

“This is the first time that the global private sector has come together to speak with one united voice to advocate for greater global governance and enforceable legal frameworks. We need to act now – there is no time to lose.”

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