Conserving and restoring degraded forest landscapes is essential to combating global climate change and preventing biodiversity loss.
A number of companies have pledged to help grow 1 trillion trees in the next seven years, with more due to come on board.
The regenerative management of forests by investing in trees could create $230 billion in business opportunities worldwide by 2030.
The impact of restoring trees around the world.
Companies from across sectors are working together through the World Economic Forum’s 1t.org initiative, which serves the global movement to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030.
More than 80 companies have pledged over 7 billion trees in over 65 countries. Since COP27 in November 2022, new pledges from nine companies have been welcomed, including the first four Indian companies — Vedanta, ReNew Power, CSC Group and Mahindra.
Organizations work collaboratively through the 1t.org Corporate Alliance. Member companies commit to boosting their local communities and forests, and to implementing a Paris Agreement-aligned target to reduce emissions.
The Corporate Alliance brings companies together under a shared goal of protecting the environment and working sustainably, and connects enterprises with 1t.org’s community of innovators, partners and regional chapters.
Companies from diverse sectors such as mining and automotive manufacturing are investing in forest conservation and restoration. Meta has partnered with the National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC) to ensure that carbon-reducing plans include the leadership, traditional ecological knowledge, and vision of Indigenous peoples.
Mahindra has also committed to planting over 1 million trees per year through its Project Hariyali initiative, and has already planted over 20 million trees. Its aim is to create functional forests for local communities to enhance the livelihoods of smallholders and marginal farmers while restoring forest ecosystems. This work is in line with the World Economic Forum’s efforts to guide companies to use Indigenous knowledge in the conservation and restoration of landscapes.
What’s the challenge facing global forests?
Forests are critical to the health of the planet. They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers. They harbor 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, provide habitats for many species, and are a source of subsistence for 350 million people.
Degradation and loss of forests are destabilizing the planet on a scale unseen in human history. We have lost nearly half of the 6 trillion trees that existed on Earth before the onset of agriculture 12,000 years ago. Each year we lose around 15 billion more.
The cost to business is increasingly evident. More than half of our annual global GDP, or $44 trillion, is potentially threatened by nature loss. As trees disappear, the services they offer are undermined, reducing the productivity of soils and natural carbon sinks, diminishing our access to clean water and reducing our resilience to extreme weather events.
Restoring forests, revitalizing local communities, and regenerating our climate.
Launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in support of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, 1t.org supports the growing momentum on nature-based solutions to address climate change and nature loss.
1t.org brings private companies together under the Corporate Alliance, and the 1t.org Knowledge Exchange offers corporates curated knowledge and opportunities to share learnings and experiences. These learning materials help companies put ecologically and socially responsible approaches in place that contribute to the needs of forests, local communities, and global decarbonization goals.
For instance, 1t.org profiles global standards like the IUCN Global Standard on Nature-based Solutions to help ensure planning is informed by local knowledge and scientific evidence.
With rapid advances in monitoring technology, 1t.org is collaborating with a group of partners to connect 1t.org’s reporting process with geospatial platforms and ground-level data collection.
Tentree’s veritree, for instance, uses blockchain to validate successful planting efforts through collecting and sharing ground-level data. Restor informs and connects restoration initiatives, using geospatial data layers.
1t.org is especially focused on driving impact in priority regions including:
- The United States through our 1t.org US Chapter co-led by American Forests;
- 1t.org Mexico Chapter co-led by Reforestamos and the AMERE coalition;
- African Union’s Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative;
- 1t.org China Action co-led with China Green Foundation under the guidance of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration; and
- Amazon Basin by focusing on the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy- India through the 1t.org India Platform.
Through the 1t.org US Chapter, launched in August 2020, subnational governments and the US-based non-profit community alone have pledged over 50 billion trees by 2030.
With regional working groups on topics such as forest carbon, US policy and urban forestry, the US Chapter demonstrates the power of business, government and civil society working together to protect and restore forests.
In March 2022 the 1t.org India Platform was launched to support the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement to restore 26 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030. And at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022, China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change announced that, with the World Economic Forum and China Green Foundation, China will plant and conserve 70 billion trees by 2030.
1t.org and the Global Landscapes Forum’s Youth in Landscapes Initiative have co-convened the #GenerationRestoration Youth Hub, a diverse global network of over 80 youth ecopreneurs, practitioners and activists.
In partnership with UpLink, the Forum invites partners to launch and support innovation challenges to address issues relating to the natural world. Organizations can then sign up to propose solutions to the challenges. There have been over 10 global challenges – including Trillion Trees, #GenerationRestoration, and Carbon Market Challenges – as well as regional challenges in India, the US, the Amazon and the Sahel.
Combined, these have resulted in over 1,000 submitted solutions, and a cohort 137 recognized Top Innovators that is being supported through dedicated accelerator programs.
How can you get involved?
The global goal to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees is ambitious but it is achievable.
Collaboration and partnerships are key to meet the trillion trees vision.
Companies are encouraged to set a company-wide emissions reduction target, such as a 1.5C Science-Based Target or credible net-zero goal by or before 2050, to pledge their forest commitments.
Companies can also support 1t.org’s vision to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030 by pledging their forest commitments through the 1t.org Corporate Alliance.
Image courtesy of UNSPLASH/Kazuend.