18.07.2019

Latin America Seeks Carbon Neutrality through Landscape Restoration

Minister Sergio Bergman of Argentina, opening the proceedings; Photo: ©WRI/Initiative 20x20

Minister Sergio Bergman of Argentina, opening the proceedings; Photo: ©WRI/Initiative 20x20

Countries attending the annual meeting of partners of Initiative 20x20 on 18 - 19June 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, reinforced their commitment to restore degraded landscapes as a central strategy for sustained economic growth, reduced GHG emissions, gains in biodiversity and improved productivity.  These countries seek to align policies and investment aimed at restoring land by 2050 at a level that could help the region achieve carbon neutrality.  This level is estimated in a report by the UN Environment to be about 250 million hectares.

"If Latin American and Caribbean countries can move closer to carbon neutrality, while offering sustainable products to help satisfy the rapidly-growing global demand for food and timber, this commitment could be a significant contribution to the goals of the Paris Agreement and place the region on a path to carbon neutrality," said Walter Vergara, coordinator of Initiative 20x20.  "This goal is ambitious, but it can be achieved making use of current trends in policies, technology and economics".

Fifteen ministers and vice-ministers of Latin American and Caribbean countries, representatives of 12 impact funds, and 200 technical experts attended the meeting in Buenos Aires.

Initiative 20x20 was launched in 2014 at the UNFCCC COP20 in Lima, Peru, with the goal to change the dynamic of land degradation in the region and bring 20 million hectares into restoration by 2020.  Already partners of the initiative have launched 104 projects and programs on approximately 17 million hectares across Latin America and the Caribbean and committed an estimated $1 billion of the $2.4 billion of investment earmarked by financial partners.

Relevant milestones by partners to the initiative include (details at http://initiative20x20.org/restoration-projects;):

  • Over 500,000 hectares being restored by Conservacion Patagonica and other partners in Argentina and Chile, to encourage sustainability and expand wildlands, as in the Chacabuco Valley in Chile and the Ibera Wetlands in Argentina;
  • With support from the Andes Amazon Fund, more than 6 million hectares of land being conserved in the Andean Amazon (almost the size of France) including Sierra del Divisor in Peru and Chiribiquete in Colombia;
  • An initiative launched by Colombia to create a 9.2-million-hectare restoration corridor (slightly larger than the size of Germany and Spain combined) in the border area with Brazil and Ecuador to halt degradation of the Amazon;
  • A program to substitute African Palm Oil in Brazil, led by Kaete Investmentos and Althelia Funds/INOCAS with support from IDB Invest, with the potential of displacing African Palm Oil - a key deforestation driver in Brazil;
  • The reforestation of 1 million hectares through a program led by Mexico's National Forest Commission (CONAFOR), which adds to Mexico's nearly 7.5-million-hectare commitment to the Bonn Challenge for land restoration;
  • A portfolio of 10 projects in six countries by 12 Tree focused on agroforestry, with a robust environmental and safeguard protocol, solid monitoring metrics, and a $400 million commitment;
  • Various sustainable agroforestry initiatives to produce coffee, citrus, coconut, and cocoa that could benefit thousands of rural communities.