Subnational Solutions to Deforestation on Display at COP27
A recap of Sharm el-Sheikh from the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force
The Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF Task Force) participated in the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt throughout the second week of the conference (November 14-18, 2022). There have been high-level talks, bilateral partnership discussions, celebrations, and re-engagement with the Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula).
The first goal of the GCF Task Force and its member jurisdictions was to proceed highlighting the urgent need for – and power of – subnational climate motion. Panel discussions focused on highlighting implementation of progressive financing mechanisms, harnessing the potential of carbon markets for Indigenous empowerment, and on implementing jurisdiction-scale programs to cut back deforestation while supporting livelihoods.
The GCF Task Force is a network of 39 subnational governments – states, provinces, regions, and departments from 10 countries covering a 3rd of the world’s tropical forests. We’re a project of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law and UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, in partnership with the Institute of Behavioral Science on the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Supporting GCF Task Force Member Jurisdictions
While national party negotiators were working through decision text and ultimately landing on the creation of a loss-and-damage fund (details to follow at COP28), the GCF Task Force sought to bolster existing partnerships, construct latest ones, and increase financing across the Manaus Motion Plan for a Recent Forest Economy (launched at our Annual Meeting in March 2022), the technical exchange of experiences hosted by the Government of San Martin, Peru in October 2022, and within the lead as much as our next Annual Meeting in Yucatan, Mexico this coming February.
We had a full calendar supporting our member jurisdictions of their bilateral meetings with potential private sector and donor partners, carbon market actors reminiscent of the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions and the LEAF Coalition, and science and technology actors reminiscent of C-Trees.
The GCF Task Force also organized high-level dialogues for Governors and delegates with national development agencies, facilitated encouraging discussions around academic collaborations across member jurisdictions, and took part in side events where GCF Task Force Governors, senior delegates, and GCF Task Force Secretariat representatives presented on the incredible efforts and challenges throughout the network.
GCF Task Force Events
The GCF Task Force was proud to host several events of our own. This included an official side event (see agenda and video recording) where audience members learned concerning the current legal, political, economic, and technical actions and solutions underway throughout the GCF Task Force network – from Brazil to Peru, Mexico to Indonesia, and the U.S. to Côte d’Ivoire – in addition to the critical need for true partnership between subnational governments and Indigenous territories, and received encouragement from California State Senator Henry Stern to maintain advancing together.
It also included a celebratory reception where our delegation from Bélier, Côte d’Ivoire welcomed fellow Governors, Governors-elect, Indigenous leaders, environment secretaries, representatives of think tanks and non-profits, national development agencies from Norway and the US, academics, and others to network and learn from one another in a more relaxed setting than a proper panel.
Others have written concerning the various mixed negotiation outcomes and a few positive advances for tropical forests through a Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership and other outcomes. For the GCF Task Force, the chance to assemble at COP27 and share each what’s working at the bottom level and what needs more support was more essential than ever. This was perhaps most evident in three sets of meetings that members of our network and Secretariat participated in:
First, we proceed to push forward on finding ways to higher engage across subnational governments and Indigenous Peoples and native communities. The GCF Task Force Global Committee of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities met during panel discussions and individually to strategize on co-creating grant proposals for higher funding mechanisms and urging implementation of Guiding Principles for Collaboration and Partnership between Subnational Governments, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. These discussions are ongoing, and we sit up for latest advancements between now and the meeting in Yucatan, Mexico in February 2023.
Second, key leaders from inside the GCF Task Force, from Environment Secretaries to the Secretariat to Indigenous leaders, reconvened an evolving effort to debate gender inside the GCF Task Force and the role of girls leaders inside the climate and forest space. We’re excited for this effort to extend and expand within the lead as much as the meeting in Yucatan, Mexico in February 2023 and beyond.
Third, Brazilian President-elect Lula arrived at COP27 like a rockstar, and he met with our Brazilian member Governors and Environment Secretaries to debate the imperative for federal-state engagement and partnership on reversing the deforestation rates in Brazil. This meeting reflected the need in Brazil of working across political parties and jurisdictional scales to take real, ambitious motion to guard the Amazon. The GCF Task Force is wanting to work with the incoming Lula administration in Brazil in addition to with all levels – and parties – of Brazil’s government to advertise the people, forest, and climate agenda that the Amazon, and the world, so desperately needs.
The GCF Task Force looks forward to constructing on the discussions and connections made at COP27, in addition to to working to make sure subnational motion supports implementation and increased ambition to guard forests, alleviate poverty, respect and advance rights, and address the climate crisis.
Finally, we were excited to have support from our Emmett Institute delegation, including GCF Task Force Project Director Jason Gray, Distinguished Scholar and GCF Task Force founding-member Mary Nichols, and outstanding law students Laurel Hunt (J.D. candidate) and Veronika Bagi (LLM candidate). Our student leaders provided essential insight, expertise, and enthusiasm throughout COP27. For extra perspective on COP27 and particularly on the loss and damage negotiations, see Veronika Bagi’s Legal Planet post.