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Forests, Land and Nature

Healthy ecosystems are our planet’s life support system. They also underpin our growth and prosperity: more than half the world’s total GDP is dependent on nature and its services. More than two billion livelihoods rely on forests, fisheries, and farming.

Despite this immense value, nature is rapidly declining due to human activities. Animal and plant species are disappearing at a rate not seen for 10 million years, while global forest loss continues at a rate of around 10 million hectares per year, costing the global economy nearly US$10 trillion.

Climate change is severely increasing biodiversity loss, while the destruction of ecosystems is making us more vulnerable to rising temperatures.

If nature is protected, it can provide a third of the climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2 °C. Without it, the goals of the Paris Agreement will remain out of reach.

Nature-based solutions for climate have tremendous potential to help countries address climate change. Forests, for example, absorb around one third of the carbon dioxide released annually through the burning of fossil fuels. The ocean is one of the largest carbon reservoirs, while mangrove forests and coral reefs protect our coast lines against rising sea-levels.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the overarching framework for integrating forests and other nature-based solutions towards countries’ climate goals. A majority now include mitigation actions within forests and land use, providing the foundation for scaled-up action.

Under the Climate Promise, UNDP is supporting countries to make the most of these opportunities, including the potential for high-quality emission reductions and removals available for carbon market access, and the systems and processes needed for transparency.

UNDP's Climate and Forests Programme is also supporting tropical forest countries to meet the requirements for the quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emission reductions from REDD+ activities.

Investing in nature is often more cost effective than other measures to tackle climate change and has significant co-benefits for biodiversity and livelihoods, for indigenous peoples and local communities. To meet the climate challenge, nature must be protected.

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