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Unilever Joins Norway, U.K., U.S. in $280 Mln Forest Plan

Norway, the U.K. and U.S. pledged $280 million to protect forests in developing nations in collaboration with Unilever NV, Bunge Ltd. and Mondelez International Inc.

The cash will flow through the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative, a 10-year-old program that until now has focused on small-scale projects, Per Fredrik Pharo, director of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative, said in an interview at the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, where the announcement was made. The plan is to cover areas the size of small countries, he said.

Conserving forests is an important part of the UN climate talks because deforestation and changes in land use account for about 17 percent of global emissions of heat-trapping gases. Envoys from some 190 nations are working to devise by 2015 a new agreement to fight global warming that would include forest protection.

“Our global forests are the lungs of the world, and protecting them is fundamental for our survival,” U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said in an e-mailed statement. “When we hand these forests over to future generations, we must be able to say we exercised our stewardship wisely and responsibly.”

Norway will provide as much as $135 million for the program. The U.K. is contributing $120 million, and the U.S. is putting in $25 million. While locations have yet to be chosen, regions will have an added incentive to sign up to the program. Along with the funding from governments, companies such as Unilever, Mondelez and Bunge that are seeking sustainably produced commodities, would join in.


“That’s an additional incentive for a jurisdiction, because they would have predictable long-term demand from serious buyers,” Pharo said. “These are all companies that have pledges to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. To do that, they need deforestation-free jurisdictions to source from.”

The companies are seeking commodities such as palm oil, cocoa, pulp and paper, soy, sugar and beef, according to Pharo. The funding will help create an “enabling environment” to set up appropriate rules for land tenure, planning and monitoring, he said.

“If this concept is successful, it’s certainly one we would want to invest more in and I suspect the others too,” Pharo said.

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