As a young Cambridge graduate, HRH the Prince of Wales was mocked for talking to plants. Well 'listen up' folks... now beleagured tropical forests are talking to him and they picked the right person. Not only does he know his stuff about organic agriculture, but he has shown real leadership in tackling the rapid deforestation of the planet.
Without political inference or interference, just using his power to convene within both private and public sectors, the prince has set in place a process that provides a viable way of slowing rainforest loss while the world struggles to establish multi-lateral mechanisms and markets for the longer-term. A gathering at St. James Palace today also showcased partnerships that are testing the mechanisms of direct payment for proven results (combined with building capability for "REDD"). Presidents of rainforest nations mingled with world bank boffins, captains of industry and NGOs both global and local, and our own Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change. Some of my takeaway points:
President Bongo of Gabon talked about the "common good" represented by remaining rainforests, but suggested that some of the wealth of developed countries could be similarly regarded as "common good" and used to help the developing countries protect forests. Fair point.
All we need to stem the tide of rainforest destruction is 18-25 billion Euro over 5 years, well deployed. Less than bonus pots available to some giants of the finance sector. This would prevent 7 gt of emissions and turn the global emmisions graph from its rising trajectory back towards less damaging levels.
The window to decide to act is becoming smaller and coming closer. Explorer Pen Halow described the scary results of the Catlin Arctic Survey announced last month. Its thinner than we think and the potential loss of the world's arctic airconditioning system throws into even sharper focus the need to protect our tropical band of climate moderating rainforest.
So how do we come up with these funds? Well, Norway is ahead of us there - already supporting the Amazon Fund and a deal with the Government of Guyana to help them become a low carbon economy. We might need a few more women involved (HRH's gathering had heads of state, chiefs representing indigenous peoples & a diversity of skills on offer but no women speakers and only a few flickers of colourful clothing amongst the black crow suits....!) We might need to highlight biodiversity ... which just seems to be an underlying assumption, following seemlessly from conserved forests, but this is not entirely the case.
Most especially, we need a real deal from the leaders gathering shortly in Copenhagen. We need agreement and action. Amidst all the hurdles of targets and timetables, it could just possibly be that this "interim financing instrument" starts to look enticing and tempting as an offering to rally around. The croaking frog has sounded the alarm and orchestrated a compelling chorus of voices to that end.