• A group of 57 mayors have agreed to ramp up forest protection and make their cities' streets greener.
  • The declaration was organised by Cities4Forests which is led by the World Resources Institute.
  • Protecting carbon-rich forests is vital in reducing climate change.

From Paris to Jakarta and Sao Paulo, close to 60 mayors of major cities called on governments and companies to ramp up forest protection as they pledged to green their own streets.

The declaration, signed by leaders of 57 cities on six continents representing more than 170 million people, was organised by the Cities4Forests initiative, a network of cities committed to conserving and restoring forests.

"There isn't enough action at the national level and we are losing the war on deforestation," said John-Rob Pool, implementation manager at Cities4Forests, which is led by the World Resources Institute, a U.S.-based think-tank.

a chart showing how the  Cities4Forests initiative works
The Cities4Forests initiative.
Image: World Resources Institute

"We have a critical mass of cities willing to speak up about the importance of forests for themselves ... and urban residents, (and) for the importance of forest conservation," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Safeguarding carbon-rich forests is vital to help the world meet its goals to cut planet-heating emissions.

Forests also help clean air and water, support human health, offer flood protection and mitigate urban heat for cities.

But in 2020, tropical forest losses around the world equalled the size of the Netherlands, according to monitoring service Global Forest Watch.

Signatories of the Cities4Forests declaration - which also include Freetown, Glasgow, Oslo, Accra, Mexico City and San Francisco - called on all governments to implement strong policies to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests.

Governments of developed nations should also provide trade and financial incentives to support conservation of forests, particularly those within the tropics, the declaration said.

This includes supporting sustainable agriculture and reforming policies that are detrimental to forests, it added.

Banks, investors and sovereign wealth funds should avoid investing in activities that can fuel deforestation, such as palm oil and beef production, and should prioritise nature-based solutions and deforestation-free commodities, Pool said.

Companies must also ensure their supply chains are beneficial to nature, the declaration added.

Last year, a group of global household brands launched a new push to combat tropical forest loss after struggling to meet a 2020 sustainability target.

What is the World Economic Forum doing on natural climate solutions?

The world faces converging environmental crises: the accelerating destruction of nature, and climate change.

Natural climate solutions (NCS) – investment in conservation and land management programmes that increase carbon storage and reduce carbon emissions – offer an important way of addressing both crises and generate additional environmental and social benefits.

Research conducted for the Forum’s Nature and Net Zero report confirms estimates that NCS can provide one-third of the climate mitigation to reach a 1.5° and 2° pathway by 2030—and at a lower cost than other forms of carbon dioxide removal. This report builds on the recommendations from the Taskforce for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, and identifies six actions to accelerate the scale-up of high-quality NCS and unlock markets through the combined efforts of business leaders, policymakers and civil society.

To foster collaboration, in 2019 the Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development came together to establish the Natural Climate Solutions Alliance to convene public and private stakeholders with the purpose of identifying opportunities and barriers to investment into NCS.

NCS Alliance member organizations provided expert input to develop the Natural Climate Solutions for Corporates, a high-level guide to the credible use of NCS credits by businesses.

Get in touch to join our mission to unleash the power of nature.

To play their part, many cities are raising awareness of the importance of forest conservation, promoting sustainable products among consumers, and restoring vegetation, Pool added.

"As mayors, we are protecting the world's forests by regreening our cities and protecting our vast natural lands," said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown.

"But we can't do it alone. We call on national governments to step up their ambitions," she said in a statement.