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1t.org Announced to Accelerate Nature Restoration to Tackle Climate and Biodiversity Crises

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1t.org is a World Economic Forum initiative, designed to support the trillion tree community. It is being set up with the initial financial support of Marc and Lynne Benioff. 1t.org is a platform for leading governments, businesses, civil society and ecopreneurs committed to restoring and reforesting the planet.

The plan, outlined at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 by the Forum’s Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, represents a major initiative in the global effort to tackle the climate change and biodiversity crises.

Nature-based solutions – locking-up carbon in the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands – can provide up to one-third of the emissions reductions required by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement targets. They are one of four critical transitions needed to tackle the climate crisis in the coming decade, alongside transforming the energy, heavy industry and finance sectors. Several recent science publications have highlighted the significant restoration potential in every country to reverse centuries of decline and to restore previously forested lands, including lands recovering from fires.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: “The next decade must see unprecedented levels of collaboration if we are to meet global climate, biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals. 1t.org presents an important example of how stakeholders from all walks of life and all ages can work together to achieve a single, globally significant goal.”

In a special address, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, announced US backing of the initiative: “I am pleased to announce that the United States will join the 1 Trillion Trees initiative being launched here at the World Economic Forum. We will continue to show strong leadership in restoring, growing and better managing our trees and our forests.”

Significant momentum exists on reforestation – many initiatives and organizations are working to conserve and restore forests at scale such as the Bonn Challenge, the Global Partnership for Forest Landscape Restoration, and the work of many environmental NGOs like American Forests, or the Trillion Trees Initiative (led by Birdlife International, WCS and WWF UK). 1t.org offers an opportunity to help join-up these initiatives in a unifying platform and provide support in critical areas, including the mobilization of funds and political support. 1t.org will also enable improved connectivity of initiatives and help to inspire and enable more champions and entrepreneurs.

1t.org is being created to serve all actors working on restoration and reforestation and will provide a global platform for any reforestation commitment, initiative or campaign, from the grassroots level to large, multi-country efforts. It will provide a pathway for anyone who wants to join the reforestation movement. 1t.org work to support the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency, which has made Safeguarding the Planet a key aim; and the UK Presidency of COP26. It also aims to make a major contribution to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 led by UNEP and FAO. Specifically, 1t.org will focus on the following three key action areas:

1t.org will encourage and enable millions more grassroots reforestation champions by providing a digital platform (UpLink) to connect them with the opportunities, tools and resources they need to thrive.

1t.org will work to overcome the many socio-economic barriers that hold reforestation back by catalysing top-down system change – such as policy change, incentives, market creation and access to funding and technology.

1t.org will work to raise the level of ambition and spending from business, governments and philanthropists, and provide guidance to turn that ambition into action.

Reforestation: The science

Greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high of 55.3 Gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent in 2018. According to UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report, the Earth’s ability to have a two-thirds chance of keeping climate change below 1.5 degrees Celsius means that we have to reduce emissions by 55% between now and 2030. At current emission levels, our “carbon budget” for the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit will be depleted before 2030.

Meanwhile, GHG emissions are showing no sign of peaking any time soon. While this prognosis is bleak, nature-based solutions offer the prospect of buying valuable time. Growing, restoring and conserving 1 trillion trees over the coming decade could result in up to 12Gt CO2 being sequestered from the atmosphere each year, with the same trees storing up to 205 Gt of CO2-equivalent once mature. In total, it is estimated that nature-based solutions such as reforestation could provide up to one-third of the needed climate solutions by 2030 to meet the 1.5 degree goal.

What the leaders say

The 2019 UNEP Emissions Gap Report shows that we are on the brink of missing the 1.5°C target, thereby resulting in a future of serious climate change impacts,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “Nature is one of our best allies to significantly reduce emissions and build resilient societies, but time is running out. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) is an important initiative which brings together countries, businesses and individuals from across the world, to restore ecosystems and restore the planet. The 1t.org platform convened by the World Economic Forum provides a global public-private action platform to help translate these commitments and accelerate reforestation, restoration and conservation of forests.”

Ivan Duque, President of Colombia, said that “Our responsibility to conserve and protect biodiversity and to fight against climate change is motivated by the urgency we share to prevent the degradation of forests and other ecosystems. I committed to planting 180 million native trees by 2022 to restore 300,000 hectares of Colombian ecosystem. Today, we have planted 24.5 million trees and restored 40,227 hectares. I trust that the 1t.org platform will help scale these efforts and accelerate restoration action globally.”

The need for accelerated action was also highlighted by Marc Benioff, Chairman and co-Chief Executive Officer of Salesforce,who said:“We are facing a planetary climate crisis and trees are one of the most effective ways to sequester carbon and stop the worst effects of climate change.” Benioff also announced that, “in support of the 1t.org mission, Salesforce has set a goal to support and mobilize the conservation and restoration of 100 million trees over the next decade.”

For Dame Jane Goodall, Founder, Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace: “1t.org offers innovative technologies which will serve to connect tens of thousands of small and large groups around the world that are engaged in tree planting and forest restoration. Creating this ‘greening global community’ will allow for sharing critically needed funding and best practices – just what is needed to achieve the trillion trees goal in 10 years. Towards the 1t.org goal, I am proud to announce that our Roots & Shoots programme, which empowers young people in 60 countries, has committed to planting over 5 million new trees over the coming year. Now is the time for everyone on the planet to do their part.”

“Forests are not only exceptional ecosystems; but, for indigenous peoples, they are also our pharmacies, our supermarket, our school,” said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association of Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad. “As indigenous peoples, we will not watch our forest burn without acting. We are ready to protect and repair the forests. The 1t.org platform offers exciting opportunities to combine science, finance and indigenous peoples knowledges for climate action.”

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World Migratory Bird Day illuminates the dark side of light pollution

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Governments, cities, companies, and communities around the world are taking action to address a significant and growing threat to wildlife, including many species of migratory birds – light pollution.

The issue is the focus for World Migratory Bird Day, observed this Saturday, 14 April, under the theme “Dim the Lights for Birds at Night.”

Light pollution is increasing, with artificially lit outdoor areas rising by 2.2 per cent per year from 2012 to 2016, according to one study cited by the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), a UN environmental treaty.

Currently, more than 80 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live under a “lit sky”, and the figure is closer to 99 per cent in Europe and North America. 

Altering natural patterns

“Natural darkness has a conservation value in the same way as clean water, air, and soil. A key goal of World Migratory Bird Day 2022 is to raise awareness of the issue of light pollution and its negative impacts on migratory birds,” said Amy Fraenkel, the CMS Executive Secretary. 

Artificial light alters natural patterns of light and dark within ecosystems, and contributes to the deaths of millions of birds each year.

Light pollution can cause birds to change their migration patterns, foraging behaviours and vocal communication, resulting in disorientation and collisions.  

Disorientation and death

Migrating birds are attracted to artificial light at night – particularly when there are low cloud conditions, fog, rain, or when flying at lower altitudes –  luring them to dangers in cities.

Birds become disorientated and, as a result, may end up circling in illuminated areas. With their energy reserves depleted, they risk exhaustion, or worse.

“Many nocturnally migrating birds such as ducks, geese, plovers, sandpipers and songbirds are affected by light pollution causing disorientation and collisions with fatal consequences,” said Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), another UN treaty.

“Seabirds such as petrels and shearwaters are attracted by artificial lights on land and become prey for rats and cats.” 

Safer skies

Two years ago, countries that are party to the CMS endorsed guidelines on light pollution covering marine turtles, seabirds, and migratory shorebirds.

The recommendations call for Environmental Impact Assessments to be conducted for projects that could result in light pollution.  

Projects should consider the main sources of light pollution at a certain site, the likely wild species to be affected, and facts about proximity to important habitats and migratory pathways.

New guidelines focused on migratory landbirds and bats are currently being developed and will be presented for adoption at a CMS conference next year.

Solutions to light pollution are readily available, said Ms. Frankel. More and more cities worldwide are taking measures to dim building lights during migration phases in spring and autumn, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Call to action

World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated twice a year, on the second Saturday in May and October, in recognition of the cyclical nature of bird migration and the different peak migration periods in the northern and southern hemispheres.

It is organized by a collaborative partnership among the two UN wildlife treaties and the non-profit organization, Environment for the Americas (EFTA).

“World Migratory Bird Day is a call to action for international migratory bird conservation,” said Susan Bonfield, the EFTA Director. 

“As migratory birds’ journey across borders, inspiring and connecting people along the way, it is our aim to use the two days in 2022 to raise awareness of the threat of light pollution and the importance of dark skies to bird migrations.”

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UN focus on plant health, crucial for boosting food security worldwide

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On the very first International Day of Plant Health, marked on Thursday, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for more investment in innovation to boost food security, especially for the billions worldwide living close to the bread line.

Plants under threat

Healthy plants have the power to help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development. But even though plants make up 80 per cent of the food we eat, and provide 98 per cent of the oxygen we breathe, threats to their survival in many cases, are piling up.

According to recent data, up to 40 per cent of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases every year, and this affects both food security and agriculture, the main source of income for vulnerable rural communities.

Climate change and human activities are also altering ecosystems and damaging biodiversity while creating new niches for pests to thrive in. 

Furthermore, FAO says that protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with plant health emergencies. That is because once established, plant pests and diseases are often difficult to eradicate, and need to be controlled through sustainable pest and pesticides management.

Human health depends on plants

“On this very first International Day of Plant Health, we reflect on plant health innovations for food security,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, adding that investments are needed in research to find more resilient and sustainable additions to the human diet.

“We need to continue raising the global profile of plant health to transform agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable”, he continued.

The protection of plants is essential for people and for the planet, and that is why the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has mapped several priorities for plant health, coinciding with the inaugural Day.

Focusing on sustainable pest management and pesticides through promotion of green and digital plant protection; and creating enabling surroundings for plant health by enhancing the health of soils, seeds, and pollinators, are among the main priorities.

FAO is calling on governments to prioritize plant health and its sustainable management in formulating policies and legislation, and on academia and research institutions to deliver science-based solutions.

Why an International Day?

Having been established as a key legacy of the International Year of Plant Health 2020, the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) was designated to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development.

Championed by Zambia, it was unanimously adopted in a General-Assembly resolution co-signed by Bolivia, Finland, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania.

Following the first IDPH this year, FAO will organize celebrations for the Day every 12 May at global, regional, national levels, and even potentially, down on a farm, near you.

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Climate: World getting ‘measurably closer’ to 1.5-degree threshold

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There is a 50:50 chance of average global temperature reaching 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels in the next five years, and the likelihood is increasing with time, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), published on Tuesday in Geneva. 

The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update also reveals a 93 per cent likelihood of at least one year between 2022 to 2026 becoming the warmest on record, thus knocking 2016 from the top spot. 

The chance of the five-year average for this period being higher than the last five years, 2017-2021, is also 93 per cent.  

The 1.5 °C target is the goal of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to take concerted climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming. 

Probability rising 

“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably closer to temporarily reaching the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Petteri Taalas, the WMO Secretary-General.  

“The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic”, he added, but “rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet.” 

The chance of temporarily exceeding the 1.5°C threshold has risen steadily since 2015, according to the report, which was produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO lead centre for climate update predictions.  

Back then, it was close to zero, but the probability increased to 10 per cent over the past five years, and to nearly 50 per cent for the period from 2022-2026.  

Wide-ranging impacts 

Mr. Taalas warned that as long as countries continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise. 

“And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme. Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us,” he said. 

The Paris Agreement outlines long-term goals that guide governments towards limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2 °C, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 °C. 

‘Edging ever closer’ 

 The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change further states that climate-related risks are higher for global warming of 1.5 °C than at present, but lower than at 2 °C. 

“Our latest climate predictions show that continued global temperature rise will continue, with an even chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels,” said Dr. Leon Hermanson of the UK Met Office, who led the report.  

“A single year of exceedance above 1.5 °C does not mean we have breached the iconic threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it does reveal that we are edging ever closer to a situation where 1.5 °C could be exceeded for an extended period.” 

Last year, the global average temperature was 1.1 °C above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate. The final report for 2021 will be released on 18 May.

WMO said back-to-back La Niña events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures.  However, this is only temporary and does not reverse the long-term global warming trend.  

Any development of an El Niño event would immediately fuel temperatures, the agency said, as happened in 2016, the warmest year on record.

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