More than 20 countries come together to pledge support for world’s forests

  • Twenty three countries come together for a COP26 initiative to protect the world’s forests through responsible and sustainable trade
  • Indonesia joins UK in co-chairing Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue
  • A joint statement published ahead of the first working groups of the FACT Dialogue

The COP26 Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue has taken a significant step in bringing together more than 20 countries to commit to protecting the world’s forests and natural habitats from destruction.

Indonesia will be co-chairing the FACT Dialogue with the UK, as 23 countries endorsed a joint statement committing them to working together to protect the world’s precious forests while also promoting sustainable trade and supply chains of agricultural commodities.

Launched in February, the FACT Dialogue brings key countries which buy and produce products such as beef, soy and palm oil together to agree how these can be traded more sustainably.

The landmark statement is the result of collaborative action on an issue that is complex but also critical to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and limiting a global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

International trade in agricultural commodities like palm oil, soy and beef, is worth over $80bn per year. Globally, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, many of them in developing countries.

Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate – eighty percent of tropical deforestation is driven by agricultural commodity production. Global collaboration and an all-society approach, involving everyone from political leaders to businesses through to individual consumers, is needed to protect the planet’s biodiversity and establish a sustainable future.

COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, said:

The FACT Dialogue has further work ahead to deliver on its objectives as we move towards COP26. But the publication of today’s joint statement marks a highly important first step in laying the foundation for our work.

To have brought so many countries together, through the FACT Dialogue, both producers and consumers, and to plan a way forward on sustainable trade is a fantastic start. I am confident that this is just the beginning as we work to protect trade and development, and our biodiversity-rich forests, in equal measure.

The joint statement outlines a set of collaborative principles as well as areas of common purpose and action. These include four areas:

  • Trade and market development;
  • Smallholder support;
  • Transparency and traceability;
  • Research, development, and innovation.

The statement also highlights international commitments and obligations to protect forests such as the Sustainable Development Goals (including Goal 15), the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and agreements under the World Trade Organisation.

Moving forward, Indonesia, a key commodity producing country, will co-chair the dialogue with the UK. The dialogue is also supported by a Global Multi Stakeholder Taskforce on commodity trade, which brings together over 25 leading figures from the world of business and civil society.

Next steps now are to bring countries back to the table. Government representatives from all countries will be invited to an opening plenary session on 27 May. This will be followed by a series of working groups at the beginning of June on each of the four areas of action mentioned above.

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