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A new opportunity to continue, grow, and innovate: Roots for February 2023

Dear GFC members,

We come to you with warm wishes for a happy and healthy new year, full of meaningful and impactful work.

This year promises to be one of new beginnings for the Global Forest Coalition, as our founder and longtime director, Simone Lovera, will go on to new opportunities. As noted by GFC’s former chairperson Diego Alejandro Cardona, “It will be a healthy and opportune change, and despite the fact that changes often cause doubts and fears, it is a good opportunity to continue, to grow, to innovate hand in hand with others—it is part of educating, teaching, sharing.”

Our members are our guiding light in this phase of transformation, as always, and we hope to share more about the process as it unfolds. We wish Simone all the best in her continued efforts for our common cause and thank her for her years of service and dedication, without which GFC would not be the coalition we are today. As Simone so often reminds us, la lucha sigue—the struggle continues! 

And indeed the work goes on. Over the last quarter of 2022, our advocacy work with allies contributed to notable commitments from UN member states for forests and forest-dependent communities, at least on paper. For example, at the UN climate conference in Egypt, we contributed to a People’s Declaration and urged a greater recognition of non-market mechanisms for addressing the climate crisis and real, rights-based, gender responsive and community-led solutions. These points were addressed, but it was not enough, as GFC Climate Policy Advisor Souparna Lahiri writes: “COP27 also emerged… as a COP of false solutions.” In response to the same outcomes, GFC Extractive Industries, Tourism and Infrastructure Campaign coordinator Kwami Kpondzo wrote that Africa deserves better. See everything GFC did during COP27.

Our Forests and Climate Change Campaign focused on demystifying false solutions to the climate crisis. We held our last online regional workshop, this time in Africa, on this topic, which was also the theme of the 68th edition of Forest Cover, The End of False Solutions: Moving Towards Rights-Based and Gender Transformative Solutions to Climate Change. The report includes case studies from our member groups and analyzes the blind spots of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and their failure to emphasize real solutions to climate and biodiversity loss. Watch a video about real solutions here. We also published detailed case studies about the dangers and impacts of industrial tree plantations and offset mechanisms by our members in Uganda and South Africa

In September, we finalized the work around the IPCC adaptation and mitigation reports launched in 2022. This project and work culminated in a webinar analyzing the IPCC reports from a gender and rights perspective. On September 21, we celebrated the International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations and the Africa Biomass Working Group organized a webinar to expose the harm done by the expansion of plantations. They also issued a statement: ‘Plantations are not Forests’. On October 21st, the Day of Action on #BigBadBiomass took place, and we produced a case study from Nepal about the industrialization of forest-based bioenergy, a webinar and social media campaign to denounce #BigBadBiomass. See everything from that day here.

Our Gender Justice and Forests Campaign welcomed a new coordinator last year: Valentina Figuera Martínez, a PhD candidate and researcher from Venezuela who is based in Brazil. She has experience in the fields of social and environmental justice, gender, international affairs and diplomacy.  

The Gender Justice Campaign was closely involved in the last two issues of Forest Cover, including Forest Cover 67: Whose Land, Whose Forests?, which examines the gender impacts of extractive industries based on case studies from our member groups. To support the research, our Gender expert Juana Vera Delgado developed a feminist research methodology for GFC allies, adaptable to local contexts, to facilitate data collection and measurement of gender-differentiated impacts on forests and forest-dependent communities. The campaign also published an analysis of the EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products in collaboration with FERN.

Events on gender justice last year included the Book Launch for Laguna Chica about Indigenous Guaraní land struggles in Bolivia. The book, published with the support of GFC, tells the story of the Guaraní women’s courage and perseverance in recovering part of their ancestral territory in a struggle that began some 20 years ago. To mark the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, we had a webinar with Guaraní leaders and later published an article about their successes. We also held a virtual Gender and Forests Workshop for Indigenous women leaders and local communities from Latin America and the Caribbean with more than 20 rural and Indigenous women leaders who shared their experiences. We organized an additional session for men. Last year, we also held Regional Gender Skillshares for Central Asia and Eastern Europe for GFC partners and local communities in the region as a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences on applying gender aspects to local contexts.

As part of the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA) activities, GFC signed special service agreements with gender technical partners in seven countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia. We followed up on the recommendations of the gender action plans of GLA partners, gender self-assessment recommendations of the six GLA partners, and recommendations related to sexual exploitation and harassment. GFC also presented gender-transformative and intersectionality approaches in the GLA exchange and learning sessions in May.

Our Unsustainable Livestock Campaign welcomes a new coordinator, Andrea Echeverri, who joined in December 2022 and will build on the great work of Milena Bernal. Over the coming year, the campaign will seek to expand its scope to the agro-industrial system, which also contributes to unsustainable livestock production, while maintaining a gender perspective. Andrea joins us from CENSAT Agua Viva in Colombia.

Through 2022, the campaign continued its work with the Stop Financing Factory Farming network around the world last year, including a webinar on the role of development banks in big livestock, and its impacts on forests and people. We also published a report on industrial livestock production in Asia, and remained active in civil society events at COP27 and elsewhere. For example, during X Fospa, in Belem do Pará, Brazil, GFC together with member organizations Heñoi (Paraguay), Censat Agua Viva (Colombia) and FASE (Brazil) held a discussion on carbon markets and agribusiness. A petition was also launched to request that development banks cease their investments in industrial animal agriculture. You can add your signature to the more than 28,000 that have already done so here.

Our Extractive Industries, Tourism and Infrastructure Campaign was represented at COP27 and at the UN biodiversity conference (COP15) in Montreal in December. There, we launched a briefing on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which states: “divestment from all harmful BRI projects is necessary if we are to make any progress in the protection of biodiversity and human rights.” It also released a short explainer video about a corporate initiative on biodiversity called the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).

It was nice to end 2022 on a high note. As a result of a lot of pressure from civil society movements, the final agreements that came out of COP15 in Montreal “clearly mandate governments to take legally binding and other measures to reduce subsidies and prevent investments in sectors like industrial livestock farming, large-scale bioenergy, fossil fuels and other sectors proven to harm biodiversity and the climate.” This was an important victory, particularly for Indigenous Peoples, as stated in our post-COP15 analysis of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, called The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Thank you for reading this issue of Roots and for your important work, and we hope you’ll stay connected with GFC’s campaigns and network of members this year! 

In Solidarity,

The GFC team

15 Feb, 2023
Posted in Roots, [:en]3Newsletters[:]