Paula Caballero, World Bank: Saving forests is "our challenge and opportunity"

Ilario D'Amato
6 June 2016

Paula Caballero, Senior Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice

LONDON: Forests are “critical to dealing with the climate change problem” and they represent an enormous opportunity for the private sector, says Paula Caballero, Senior Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, World Bank, in an exclusive Climate TV interview.

It is estimated that at least 12% of global man-made emissions come from deforestation. However, when taking into account the complete land use change from agricultural forestry, this number doubles to at least 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In many developing countries, this number is far higher, remarks Paula Caballero, speaking to The Climate Group at COP21: “In Latin America, which has great forest wealth and natural resources biodiversity, it’s up to 49% of emissions [that] can be attributed to deforestation and land use change.”


Forests can play a crucial role in both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. For this reason, it is necessary to raise investment in the sector, says Paula Caballero, even if “there has been a lot of progress already with the so-called climate finance.”

“At the [World] Bank we've managed over US$2.2 billion for the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program that has flowed to countries over the last years, to help them reduce their deforestation rates through readiness programs, investments and payment for results.”

Last December, just days before COP21, the governments of Germany, Norway and the UK committed an additional US$5 billion until 2020, to continue to support these efforts in the REDD+ program.


However, much work remains to safeguard our forests. They present enormous opportunities, allowing us to rebuild the world’s carbon stocks and restore degraded land. In fact, it’s estimated that there is over 2 billion hectares of degraded land globally – and increasing forest cover can mitigate this while also delivering food security for the world.

“In order to achieve these very optimistic and very ambitious goals, we need to work in partnerships,” says Paula Caballero. “Communities, forest-dependent peoples, indigenous peoples, have proven to be extraordinary stewards of the world’s forests.

“We also have to work more – and we are working at the World Bank – with the private sector. The private sector has shown enormous leadership: [in 2014], many leading companies signed off to zero deforestation value chains.”


Forward-thinking companies are increasingly shifting toward a low carbon economy, demonstrating how what’s good for the environment, is also good for business. At the Business & Climate Summit that will take place at the end of the month in London, brought to you by The Climate Group, leading businesses and policymakers will convene to discuss how to accelerate this inevitable shift after the climate goals agreed at COP21 last December.

On June 28, the second day of the Summit which is dedicated to putting “words into action: implementing the Paris Agreement”, the World Economic Forum will organize a parallel session called “Achieving climate-positive land use in agriculture and forestry – the role of business”.

This session will be an opportunity to showcase how leading companies are realizing climate-friendly growth through sustainable land use in agriculture and forestry.

To accelerate such opportunities, “there are two situations we have to tackle,” says Paula Caballero. “One is the need to go to scale, the other is the need to really operate and deliver results on the ground quickly. We need to tackle the climate change equation.”

The World Bank also has a Forest Action Plan, through which it is calling not only to preserve and conserve the world’s forests, but also to promote sustainable forest management and opportunities in the sectors that drive deforestation – such as agriculture, energy or mining.

“Forests are part of the human development equation,” concludes Paula Caballero. “[They] have been for many centuries, for many millennia, and should continue to remain to do so. That’s our challenge and that’s our opportunity.”


Also at COP21, Climate TV interviewed Felix Funkbeiner, Plant-for-the-Planet, Founder, who underlined the crucial importance of forestry and trees for our environment. His organization, a global network of more than 36,000 children and youth across 56 countries, wants “to push the importance of doing something up against the climate crisis,” he says.

Felix Funkbeiner, Plant-for-the-Planet, Founder

“Our goal is to plant one trillion trees globally. Today we have about 3 trillion trees, we used to have 6 trillion trees before we started cutting them down – but now we still have space for another trillion trees. If we manage to plant these trillion trees, it would absorb about one quarter of the global CO2 emissions.

“Of course, that’s not going to solve these problems – we still need to decrease our emissions on a global scale – but it’s going to give us a little more time to solve these problems. We need to plant a trillion trees globally, which is about 150 trees for each person.”

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