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Sink or swim: Forest Declaration Platform report on the role of IPLCs for NDCs

May 10, 2022
News item image The briefing paper examines the mitigation potential of IPLC lands and whether this potential is reflected on their NDCs and other climate-related policy documents.

A recent Forest Declaration Platform briefing paper, ‘Sink or swim: How Indigenous and community lands can make or break nationally determined contributions‘, has been released by researchers from World Resources Institute and Climate Focus, exploring the role that IPLCs play in combating climate change.

The briefing paper focuses on IPLCs in four countries – Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico – and analyses the role that IPLCs play in reducing carbon emissions in each of those countries’ forested areas. These countries are responsible for 5.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions and store about 28% of the carbon located in IPLC lands. They are home to over 300 Indigenous groups whose lands are currently threatened by over-development, mining, and agri-business.

Past and existing nationally determined contributions and related documents are examined,  with geospatial analysis undertaken to examine carbon sequestration and emissions on IPLC lands, with assessment of the extent to which IPLCs lands are protected by national laws and policies. The analysis was used to develop a set of actionable recommendations for governments in the four countries, many of which are also relevant to governments in other forest countries with significant IPLC populations.

The briefing paper’s main findings for the four countries include:

  • NDCs and other related policy documents fall short in establishing actions, targets,
    and policies relating to IPLCs and their lands. NDCs only include limited references to IPLCs and fail to acknowledge the crucial role of their lands in meeting national targets.
  • 92% of forested IPLC lands are net carbon sinks, with each hectare sequestering an average of 30 metric tons of carbon per hectare every year. On average, these lands sequestered more than twice as much carbon per hectare as non-IPLC lands.
  • IPLC lands annually sequester carbon equivalent to, on average, 30% of the four countries’ unconditional 2030 targets.
  • Existing governance frameworks in the four countries fall far short of what is needed to realize the mitigation potential offered by IPLC lands. In all four countries, these lands are under constant threat from ranching, mining, and logging, much of which is illegal and linked to corruption and collusion between governments and illegal actors.
  • Governments need to ensure IPLCs have full legal rights to the land they own; recognize and respect their right to free, prior, and informed consent; take measures to ensure rights are respected in practice; and actively empower IPLCs to manage their forest through adequate finance and support.
  • All four countries have signed on to the 2021 Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which committed to ending forest loss and land degradation by 2030. Our findings indicate that placing the protection and empowerment of IPLCs at the heart of forest and land policy will be crucial to putting this target within reach.

The Forest Declaration Platform fosters political ambition, scales up and accelerates action, and enables accountability to meet the world’s 2030 forest goals. It was established and evolved from the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) and 2021 Glasgow World Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use.

Read the report in full on the Forest Declaration Platform website.