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African countries launch AFR100 to restore the continent’s forests
The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), launched in Paris in December, has been endorsed by the African Union. The overall target is to restore 100 million hectares of degraded forest land. According to a press release by the World Resources Institute (WIR), so far, ten African countries have agreed to join AFR100 and committed at least 31.7 million hectares of land for forest landscape restoration.
AFR100 partners are earmarking more than 1 billion USD in development finance and more than 540 million USD in private sector impact investment to support restoration activities.
The announcement was made during the Global Landscapes Forum at the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, where forest landscape restoration is a key ingredient of the global movement to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Commitments made through AFR100 build on significant climate pledges made by many African countries to support a binding global climate agreement.
For the first time, AFR100 brings together political leadership with an ambitious package of financial and technical resources to support a large-scale forest landscape restoration effort across Africa. Nine financial partners and ten technical assistance providers have pledged support, led by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Agency), Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and World Resources Institute (WRI).
AFR100 builds on the climate commitments made by African countries. So far, 13 of the INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) submitted by African countries include restoration, conservation of standing forests, or “climate-smart” agriculture. According to WRI analysis, following through on the commitments would cumulatively reduce emissions by 1.2 Gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent over the next ten years, or 36 per cent of Africa’s annual emissions and 0.25 per cent of global emissions.
AFR100 recognises the benefits that forests and trees can provide in African landscapes: improved soil fertility and food security, greater availability and quality of water resources, reduced desertification, increased biodiversity, green jobs, economic growth, and increased capacity for climate change resilience and mitigation. Forest landscape restoration has the potential to improve livelihoods, especially for women, notes WRI in its press release.
According to WRI, commitments announced through AFR100 also support the Bonn Challenge, a global target to bring 150 million hectares of land into restoration by 2020 adopted in Germany in 2011, the New York Declaration on Forests that extends that challenge to 350 million hectares by 2030, and the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative (ARLI), an initiative to promote integrated landscape management with the goal of adapting to and mitigating climate change. With these new partners, the Bonn Challenge process has surpassed the 100 million hectare mark, on track to meet its goal well ahead of the 2020 target date.
Through AFR100, we expect to trigger one of the largest investments in forest landscape restoration the world has ever seen," says Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany. “This investment is vital for empowering local communities to scale up the inspiring restoration successes we’ve seen in Africa over the last decade.”
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