A working paper released by the New Climate Economy project at the weekend has showed that Nigeria and other developing country need $250 billion annually for funding landscape conservation.
Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who cited the report, solicited for support from developed economies to address the challenge of climate change in developing countries.
Okonjo-Iweala, said this in a speech she presented at a high-level opening plenary of the Global Landscapes Forum held Paris at the weekend.
However, she pointed out that only $25 billion a year was being invested on this, with 60 per cent of the amount from domestic budgets. The balance of $10 billion from external sources was from public foreign assistance, offsets, and philanthropy.
“How can this need be met where most of the land in question is densely occupied, often by very poor people? Public funding needs to play a large role. Communities typically need to stop planting or grazing on steep slopes, which have to be reforested.
“ Terracing or other forms of land and water management for agriculture are often necessary. Property rights and responsibilities of those on the land need to be formalised. Yet total annual expenditures by Ministries of Agriculture and of the Environment combined in developing countries do not exceed $50 billion from domestic sources, and total official Development Assistance ODA in agriculture has been of the order of US$3-4 billion per year, with perhaps another US$1 billion plus for forests,” she queried.
Okonjo-Iweala, who also noted that developing countries were not only aware of climate change added that many of them were already living with the consequences.
She also said there were concerns about the most recent predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC that food production per capita in developing countries would be sharply lower in the coming decades.
“ Most have put increasing food productivity and increasing the resilience of rural livelihoods at the top of the policy agenda. Yet land use is also vital to addressing climate change. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, of which I am a member, has featured land use issues in its New Climate Economy project. It finds that land use interventions can produce from 15 per cent to 35 per cent of the needed mitigation to get the world back to a two degree Celsius climate pathway by 2030. It also shows this path to be unlikely without a big contribution from these interventions in developing countries.
“ This Forum addresses the main need for going forward, a stronger consensus that landscape restoration is critical to achieving a vital “triple win” for development and climate: increasing rural productivity, resilience, and mitigation simultaneously.
“According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a staggering third of all agricultural landscapes are now degraded, mostly in developing countries. Solutions need to come from those most directly involved. India for example has led on forest restoration. By 2030, additional forest and tree cover is expected to absorb at least 2.5 gigatons of CO2.
“The massive restoration of China’s Loess Plateau from the mid-1990s onwards is another. Annual household incomes grew from US$70 to US$200 per person over the first decade, through agricultural productivity gains and diversification. Soil losses were reduced by 100 million tonnes per year, and massive amounts of new biomass and soil carbon sequestered,” she said.
Furthermore, she noted that there was more than US$100 trillion in private investment capital, whose interest rates are very low.
On the other hand, Okonjo-Iweala said the bad news was that landscape investments in developing countries were inherently risky, especially where smallholders and poor forest communities are involved.
“There are institutional and infrastructure deficiencies, missing skills, market risks, political risks, and weather variability. These all keep bond investors away. A recent review by the Climate Bonds Initiative found that while there were US$ half-a-trillion in Green-themed bonds being held globally in 2013, less than 1 per cent of these were for land use investments.
“The NCE Working Paper being released today suggests a way forward through structured capital partnerships put together by “Impact Investors.” Such investments in land use in developing countries have been of the order of US$1 billion per year to 2013. But the amount is expected to continue to double every 4-5 years going forward,” she added.