The Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Morocco celebrated Forest Action Day on Tuesday.
COP22's Forest Action Day celebrations are a part of the Global Climate Action Agenda to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests.
Launched earlier on Tuesday by the climate champions for Morocco and France, Hakima El Haite and Laurence Tubiana, the Agenda aims to boost cooperation between governments, cities, businesses, investors and citizens to cut emissions and help vulnerable nations adapt to climate impacts and build their own clean energy and sustainable futures.
Speaking at a special event entitled "Global Climate Action Launch Event," Abdeladim Lhafi, Morocco's High Commissioner for Water, Forests and the Fight against Desertification, said that conserving, restoring and managing forests is essential to meeting global sustainable development goals, including combating desertification and water insecurity.
Lhafi announced that Morocco will launch a new initiative called "Strengthened Action in Favor of Forests in the Mediterranean-Sahel Region in the Context of Climate Change" (AFMS).
He elaborated that the initiative aims to help countries meet multilateral commitments to forests, including adaptation and mitigation actions under the Paris Agreement, and to facilitate climate change investments to improve forest management and build the resilience of forest-dependent communities.
Helen Clark, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator, said that forests are one of the largest and most cost-effective responses we have to climate change.
"Countries, civil society, the private sector and indigenous peoples are working powerfully together to protect forests to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement," he stressed.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director-General, Forestry, Rene Castro Salazar, stressed that healthier forests will also contribute to many other global development goals by providing food, income, fuel and shelter.
"The Zero Hunger goal of the SDGs cannot be achieved by 2030 without addressing climate change, and climate change cannot be addressed without managing the world's forests in a sustainable manner," he said.
Deforestation and forest degradation currently contribute up to 12 percent of carbon emissions, more than the entire transport sector.
However, by halting deforestation, reducing and reversing forest degradation, forests could contribute significantly to the climate solution in the coming decades.
The COP22 Global Action Agenda will feature eight other theme days, namely water, industry and businesses, as well as resilience in cities, buildings, energy, transport, oceans and agriculture.