Change is often borne out of a crisis. The current global health emergency has its roots deep in the twin problems of environmental degradation and human inequality. We must ensure that the hard lessons we are now learning are not wasted.
In this time of upheaval, there is a huge opportunity to right past wrongs and alter our course to become a more responsible and inclusive world – a cooler world – with harmony between people and planet. There is a proven solution for climate and health that creates sustainable jobs and can lift entire populations out of extreme poverty, and can work everywhere: forest protection and restoration.
WeForest has been mobilizing companies for ten years – from start-ups to large multinationals – to engage their employees and millions of consumers in restoring the world’s forests. We are on course to be restoring more than 85,000 hectares and 100 million trees by 2024.
While this nature-based solution is simple, it’s not simplistic or even easy. The past ten years has taught us what works and what doesn’t, globally and region by region. Developing solid Forest Landscape Restoration projects, where the ecological aspect is embedded into a wider socio-economic development plan, is complex and takes time. It’s not just about planting trees – it’s about ensuring forests thrive. Forest-dependent communities need alternative sources of income and fuel, or trees will simply be cut down again.
Holistic and sustained programmes to deliver successful forest restoration need committed partners. Never before have there been so many large corporations committing to protect and restore forests. Procter and Gamble’s July 2020 pledge to fund programmes that aid reforestation in Brazil, tree-planting in California and Germany, and the protection of mangroves in the Philippines. Amazon’s US$100 million Right Now Climate Fund to support nature-based climate solutions to remove or avoid carbon emissions. Unilever’s $1bn Climate and Nature Fund that involves its brands in restoring landscapes, reducing carbon emissions, or reforesting and reinstating wildlife habitats. AstraZeneca’s ‘AZ Forest’ initiative to plant 50 million trees worldwide over the next five years. Shell also has a Nature-Based Solutions initiative to invest in projects which protect or redevelop natural ecosystems and lead the company towards zero energy emissions. Caterpillar is taking a lead on contributing to natural infrastructure to restore ecosystems. Timberland, LVMH, Kering, L’Oreal, Nestlé, IKEA….the list goes on.
As leaders in science, conservation, restoration, development and business all stand together in support of Together With Nature, we now have a chance to raise the visibility of this movement, grow the number of supporters and connect people to make it happen.