Former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks at the high-level opening plenary session from the first day of the Global Landscapes Forum 2015, in Paris, France alongside COP21.

The session explores the investments into sustainable landscapes that countries and private actors have already committed to – as well as the areas in which we need to scale up efforts.

Saturday, 5 December 2015
Global Landscapes Forum, Paris, France
#GLFCOP21 #ThinkLandscape


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to address this very large forum – of special importance to developing countries.

For us in developing countries, our rural area still includes 70 percent of the world’s forest people. Growth that attacks poverty and food insecurity is a dominant concern for us. And agriculture accounts for most of employment: more than two-thirds in Africa and a substantial share of GDP in most countries. Developing countries are not only aware of climate change, but many of them are living it and living with the consequences. We worry about the most recent predictions from the IPCC that food production per capita in our countries will be sharply lower in the coming decades.

Most have put increasing food productivity and increasing the resilience of our rural livelihoods at the top of our policy agenda. Yet, land use is so vital to addressing climate change. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, of which I’m a member, has featured land-use issues in the New Climate Economy project. It finds that land-use interventions can produce from 15 to 35 percent of the needed mitigation to get the world back to a two degrees Celsius climate pathway by 2030. It also shows this pathway to be unlikely without a big contribution from these interventions in developing countries.

This forum addresses the main need for going forward: a stronger consensus that landscape restoration is critical to achieving a vital triple win for development and climate – increasing rural productivity, resilience and mitigation simultaneously. According to the FAO, a staggering third of all agricultural landscapes are now degraded, mostly in developing countries. Worse still, 12 million hectares net are being added each year to that total.

Degraded landscapes threaten the ability of countries to provide stable livelihoods to rural people. Solutions need to come from those directly involved. And commitment to change is growing. Thirty-five African countries submitted INDCs that mention land-use interventions. Most of these expect benefits such as higher yields, reduced erosion, and less loss of productive land. Thirteen have detailed quantitative targets to emissions reduction through land use interventions that will lead to 1.2 gigatons of reduced CO2 emissions over the next ten years – an amount equivalent to more than one-third of Africa’s current total annual emissions.

But developing countries still need help from others to deliver. A working paper released today by the New Climate Economy project finds that US $250 billion per year is needed for funding landscape conservation and restoration in developing countries. In fact, only $25 billion per year is invested in this way, and 60 percent is from domestic budgets. The balance of US $10 billion from external resources is public foreign assistance, offsets and philanthropy.

So, how can we solve this problem and pay for this? Part of the answer has to be to leverage more private investment. Where public and private work together the agricultural and forestry incomes generated can go a long way towards paying for required investments in the resilience of agriculture in restoring landscapes. And, most importantly, getting local populations to become part of the solution.

The good news is that there’s more than US $100 trillion in private investment capital around and interest rates are very low. But, the bad news is that landscapes investments in developing countries are inherently risky. So attracting this $100 trillion that we talk about into these types of investments is exceedingly difficult.

We have to look at some of the suggestions being forwarded today, including in a working paper by the New Climate Economy. Structured capital partnerships put together by impact investors that bring together: government, to provide leadership, governance, and basic infrastructure; debt providers to provide low-cost capital; equity investors to provide further capital that seeks higher returns but is also accepting of some risk; international donors to fund start-up costs and take first-loss risks, and; civil society to increase transparency.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, the solution exists. But the issue is really to bring all actors together in a partnership that can really deliver on these solutions. I’m hoping that your presence here and our presence in Paris at this COP21 can finally lead to these types of partnerships scaling up beyond the pilot attempts that we’ve seen so far. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’m optimistic that it will happen.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

2015 Global Landscapes Forum: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Opening Keynote

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