Forests declaration: India reads fine print, chooses to stay away

India on Tuesday did not sign the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use – an ambitious declaration initiated by the United Kingdom to “halt deforestation” and land degradation by 2030, as it objected to “trade” being interlinked to climate change and forest issues in the agreement.

The declaration has over 105 signatories including the UK, US, Russia and China.

India, Argentina, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are the only G20 countries that did not sign the declaration.

The declaration says, “Recognise that to meet our land use, climate, biodiversity and sustainable development goals, both globally and nationally, will require transformative further action in the interconnected areas of sustainable production and consumption; infrastructure development; trade; finance and investment; and support for smallholders, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities, who depend on forests for their livelihoods and have a key role in their stewardship.”

Referring to it, an Indian representative said, “The declaration interlinks trade to climate change and forest issues. Trade falls under the WTO and should not be brought under climate change declarations. We had asked the word “trade” to be removed, but they did not agree. So, we have not signed the declaration.”

Twenty eight governments have also committed to remove deforestation from the global trade of food and other agricultural products such as palm oil, soya and cocoa.

“Governments representing 75% of global trade in key commodities that can threaten forests – such as palm oil, cocoa and soya – will commit to a common set of actions to deliver sustainable trade and reduce pressure on forests, including support for smallholder farmers and improving the transparency of supply chains,” said a statement from UK government.

The leaders who signed the declaration represent over 85% of the world’s forests and 12 countries have committed 12 billion dollars in public funds from 2021-25, to protect and restore forests, alongside 7.2 billion dollars of newly-mobilised private investment.

This will include a 1.5 billion dollar fund to protect the Congo Basin –home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world.

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