By Valerie Davis, EnviroMedia CEO
Last year at COP16 in Cancún, we got to attend the REDD+ meeting hosted by Avoided Deforestation Partners (ADP). We were promised Dr. Jane Goodall, and we got her – but by video due to her travels. This year, at COP17 in Durban, we attended the fifth of these annual meetings, and Dr. Goodall was not only there, but stayed throughout the 3.5-hour meeting – and treated the invitation-only crowd of about 200 to her signature chimpanzee calls (see video at end).
“I spent so much of my life out in the forest. . . . The forests were not put on the planet for us. . . . We need to protect them for themselves.” – Dr. Jane Goodall
According to ADP, deforestation consumes an acre of rain forest per second and contributes an estimated 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. ADP’s founder Jeff Horowitz assembled a high-profile lineup to talk about the problem, starting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, left. Throughout the meeting, many participants cited poverty and food security as key issues related to the deforestation problem, as the poor are vulnerable to implementing damaging tactics on their land. “There’s no way we can save the chimpanzees and the forests when people are struggling to survive,” said Dr. Goodall. Norway Secretary of State Kjetil Lund, co-chair of the Green Climate Fund Transitional Committee, said REDD+ could be helped through the fund, which is to provide developing countries with assistance via $100 billion per year by 2020. Lund said the fund will likely be launched and ready for start-up funds as COP17 concludes this week, and reports this morning are encouraging about the fund’s progress in Durban.
Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya, founder the Green Belt Movement to plant trees while empowering women, was supposed to play a key role in this year’s REDD+ event but died in September. Her daughter Wanjira Maathai, left, is continuing her mother’s work as international liaison of the Green Belt Movement and led a panel session that included Dr. Goodall, UN Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark (former prime minister of New Zealand), and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, now head of her own foundation for climate justice. It was inspiring to hear from these ladies, and sad, too, because Wangari Maathai was not there. She was scheduled to be at the REDD+ meeting in Cancún but, like Dr. Goodall last year, also had to deliver her message via video. It’s heartening to see her legacy continue with her daughter, and the Green Belt Movement with activity in Kenya and beyond.
President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was also to attend the meeting but was traveling to Oslo to receive the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
Liberia Minister of Foreign Affairs Toga Gayewea McIntosh delivers a message from President Johnson Sirleaf. As the country recovers from a devastating civil war, she said, “We are redeveloping our country and want to rebuild in a sustainable way.”
U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing appeared on a panel about government and private sector partnerships, then dashed out the door to COP17 negotiations. With less than 48 hours left for the Durban meeting, once again, we are left with a standoff between the U.S. and China.
Greenwashing Contributes to Deforestation Problem
Puvan Selvanathan, vice president of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, in photo on right with Sean de Cleene of Yara International, talks about working with small land owners and the organization’s tool to monitor and report greenhouse gas emissions as part of its certification process. Good thing, since a Malaysian Palm Oil Council spot has been rated one of the worst in greenwashing on our Greenwashing Index website since 2008. Greenwashing was cited by Dr. Goodall and World Wildlife Fund U.S. Senior Vice President Jason Clay as a contributor to the deforestation problem.
Watch Dr. Goodall emulate her beloved chimpanzees with a chimp call and hug for ADP founder Jeff Horowitz: