While the Paris Agreement recognized that keeping forests standing will play a key role in combatting climate change, forests can do a lot more for development than that, argue Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch in “Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change,” produced by the Center for Global Development.
Ending deforestation is one of the most cost-effective means of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions the authors suggest, potentially reducing gases by 30 percent, at a cost of around $5 per tonne of avoided emissions, compared with up to $100 per tonne for other interventions.
However, forests can also contribute to more than half of the 17 SDGs agreed by the United Nations in 2015, they claim.
“Forests are an underappreciated solution to climate change — they don’t get their fair share of political attention or finance — but even more unappreciated is the range of other development benefits created by forests linked to alleviating hunger, providing clean drinking water and even renewable energy generation,” Seymour told Devex.
Policymakers have historically ignored or undervalued forests, both as a means of income generation for communities and in their contribution to agricultural productivity, energy generation and protection from disease. This devaluation has led to a “systematic bias in favor of converting forests to other uses,” as the full impact of their loss is not captured in policy analysis, the authors claim.