The World Economic Forum (WEF) took place in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday and brought positive news for the environment: Norway, backed by Nestle, Mars, and Unilever, is launching a $400 million fund to reform farming practices in Brazil so as to combat deforestation. Norway got the fund up and running with a contribution of $100 million; the other donors are expected to give the balance of the $400-million by 2020.
"We applaud the fund as we are a strong believer in governments and companies working together to protect the environment while feeding the world," said Everton Lucero, Brazil's junior minister for Climate Change.
According to the WEF, about 2.3 million square kilometres of rainforest were cut down between 2000 and 2012, wiping out one of the world's only natural mechanisms to absorb greenhouses gases.
“The future of the planet depends on our common ability to both protect and restore forests at unprecedented scale, while simultaneously increasing agricultural production to meet growing global needs,” Erna Solberg, Norway’s prime minister, said on Jan. 18 according to a press release. “Through this fund, we will work with forest governments, the private sector and civil society to make this happen in innovative ways,” he added.
WEF reports that the Norwegian government will work in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, UN Environment Programme, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and major food companies and environmental NGOs to reach their financial commitment goal. Together, they aim to protect over 5 million hectares of forests and peatlands by 2020, an area equal to that of Costa Rica.
Referencing that proposed teamwork between governments, companies, and organizations, Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, stated “This unparalleled public-private partnership will leverage the commitment of Consumer Goods Forum companies to meet our shared goal to eliminate deforestation, while supporting enhanced livelihoods for farmers in our supply chain.”
Norway has created the fund under Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, an organization which unites leaders of public institutions and private companies to divest deforestation from supply chains. The action is in part due to attempts to keep promises made by both developed and developing countries in the Paris Climate Agreement, each looking to support the other and come together for the global cause.
“As part of the Paris Climate Agreement our country has committed to 12 million hectares of forest restoration and 20 million hectares of sustainable intensification of agriculture,” said Roberto Jaguaribe, the president of the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, in the release. “This fund will help us to develop scalable models to achieve that.”
Actions like these are imperative in order to hold governments and big companies accountable for their investments and subsequent actions around the world. The hope is that other countries and companies will follow, making similar comittments to transparency in resource management and environmentally-conscious development practices. Last year Norway also made the national comittment to banning deforestation, as explained in the video below.