Brazil launches funding initiative for conserved tropical forests

From left: André Aranha Corrêa do Lago, the Secretary for Climate, Energy and Environment; Marina Silva, Brazil’s Minister of Environment and Climate; and Fernando Haddad, Minister of Finance of Brazil

At COP28, the government of Brazil launched its proposal for a global instrument, the ‘Tropical Forest Forever Facility’, aimed at protecting standing tropical forests in up to 80 countries. The Tropical Forest Forever Facility would mobilise at least US$250bn in existing resources from sovereign wealth funds and, with no extra cost, deploy them to pay for conserved tropical forests in more than 80 countries.

As highlighted by the Minister of Environment and Climate of Brazil, Marina Silva: “Tropical forests provide an array of ecosystem services beyond carbon. The proposal recognises the role of tropical rainforest conservation for biodiversity, carbon capture and cooling effects, as well as its importance for social and economic development.”

Minister Marina Silva also underscored Brazil’s expectation to further develop this initiative in a collaborative manner: “We are proposing an innovative process, inviting partners to work together with us to design the operational details of this initiative.” Brazil’s expectation is that the facility can be fully operational by COP30, to be held in Belém.

The General Director of the Brazilian Forest Service, Garo Batmanian, emphasised that the payments by the facility would be based on the area of conserved or recovered forests – not on carbon value, biodiversity, or environmental services. This would make it simple to set up, as well as to check and monitor.

In addition to incentives for conservation, the scheme should also include disincentives to deforestation and forest degradation – for example, payments would be reduced by 100 hectares for every hectare deforested. Crucially, the scheme would provide a guaranteed, long-term flow of resources for tropical forest conservation.

To be eligible, the deforestation rate of a country must remain below a certain percentage and deforestation must be decreasing or less than a percentage. Acknowledging that each country faces specific challenges, the allocation of the financial resources would be a decision of the recipient countries, but accompanied by a robust and inclusive transparency mechanism to help those responsible for the management, conservation and recovery of tropical forests.

The Tropical Forests Forever Facility should initially receive investments from sovereign wealth funds, in addition to other institutional investors and other forms of resource input, such as the oil industry.

Currently, sovereign funds gather around $12tn in assets globally. The 13 largest of them, from just eight countries, correspond to $8.8tn, and around $1.3tn are invested in low-risk assets.

The facility would be housed in a global organisation with an AAA rating, which would enable it to issue bonds at the AAA market rate. This way, sovereign funds would have an option to redirect their current low-risk assets towards bonds that would contribute to the protection of tropical rainforests, without any additional cost.

Summarising, Batmanian stated: “The main advantages for this global payment initiative are that: it would be simple to implement and verify; it would encourage good forest stewardship whilst discouraging deforestation and degradation, and it would provide a predictable, long-term resource buffer for forest conservation and restoration. Importantly, however, it would align incentives for both investing countries and forest countries, without the need for additional costs.”