Expert view 5 October 2022
Deforestation: the policies adopted by tropical countries are of decisive importance for the future
With an average of 10 million hectares lost each year, corresponding to 14% of manmade CO2 emissions, deforestation is a major issue for tropical countries. What can be done to avert catastrophe, and by whom?
For CIRAD's Alain Karsenty, the policies adopted in tropical countries are of decisive importance for the future. In an op-ed published in Le Monde on 5 October 2021, he calls for a joint agenda to fight deforestation and boost food security.
Policymakers in the countries concerned often call upon the international community to pay them for the ecosystem services rendered by their forests. It was such demands that prompted the REDD+ global mechanism (for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), headed by the UN. However, the scheduled payments are not classed as "payments for services rendered by ecosystems", but as payments to countries for their efforts to conserve forests by means of effective policies and measures. Priority is thus given to the quality of the policies implemented, which should therefore be assessed by independent groups of experts.
Furthermore, Alain Karsenty considers that we cannot just "let the countries concerned 'get on with things' and pay them afterwards: we must invest massively in supporting them, to be able to master the direct and indirect causes of deforestation". He calls for greater coherence in terms of environmental and agricultural policies, which have a major impact on forests. In this way, he hopes to encourage countries to see ecological intensification methods (agroecology, combined crop and livestock farming and agroforestry) as a priority, and to clarify land rights.
He does not leave out industrialized countries either, and invites them to:
- review international trade agreements;
- adjust customs tariffs (import taxes) to favour certified zero-deforestation goods;
- encourage changes in consumption habits by reducing meat consumption, boosting protein self-sufficiency (soybean) and abandoning first-generation biofuels.