top of page

COP27: TreeSisters' Perspective

The attempts to place a monetary value on natural wealth (every integral part of nature, plant like fungi, animal, mineral, fossil, water, soil, etc.) is the accounting mind's genuine attempt to understand and reflect the needs of Nature. The financial mechanisms presented to support forests through carbon credits, while often well intended, can bring with them the further colonisation of territories and peoples through the markets that have driven exploitation. Respecting the inherent rights of all beings and bringing the voices and solutions from those with experience in genuine, practical and culturally embedded care for trees and communities is hindered by the disproportionate power of corporate lobbies.

TreeSisters keeps a close eye on how international negotiations are progressing on the global stage to keep our work up to date, provide feedback to our network and strategically support our mission through our alliances and positions. In this blog, TreeSisters Education and Alliances team Suzi Steer and Rebecca Lefton summarise what they're seeing from the latest UN Climate COP in Egypt.

As the name suggests, Credit: Mathia RedingCOP27 is the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change after being born out of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. What has become more apparent with each iteration of these meetings is that the real power to effect positive change for the climate and ecosystems comes not from governments and lobbyists but in the hearts and hands of individuals, local communities, economies and cultures that centre Earth in decision-making.

This year's Climate COP saw an over-representation of corporate lobby groups and an under-representation of the communities who have safeguarded life and biodiversity. Many of the solutions that governments are announcing have not come from listening to the communities they impact and are being called "false solutions". Hosting the event in Egypt has created complexities for fair representation from civil society(1). This power imbalance will likely create further difficulties heading into the negotiations for the Convention of Biological Diversity COP15 in Montreal in December 2022.

What has been achieved by the UN Climate COP27 so far, and what hasn't?

  • International Collaboration. The UN climate negotiations spotlight global collaboration on behalf of the Earth around care for the climate. The 2015 Paris Agreement has been followed up annually through each nation's commitments. Pressures on energy sources and implications of selling African gas internationally means this year there has been a focus on 'avoiding backsliding' on goals to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C and the inclusion of language to "boost low-emissions energy", or natural gas.

  • Protecting Trees and Peoples. In 2021 in Glasgow, 100 countries pledged to halt deforestation by 2030. This year, 26 countries have pledged additional billions to support the implementation of this pledge. Significant investments are going into afforestation and reforestation from state and private finance, and Brazil's new government is talking about setting up a 'Ministry for Indigenous People'.

  • Addressing Supply Chains. Pledges have been made to reduce deforestation in supply chains and forest positive management of assets that impact investments of trillions of dollars. This is mobilising ways of working with international corporations, addressing their social, ecological and governance impacts. This includes developing carbon markets and checking forest products as mechanisms.

  • Non-Market Based Mechanisms & Rights of Nature. Article 6 allows for carbon credit mechanisms under adaptation and mitigation(2). Tucked away is article 6.8, which refers to non-market-based mechanisms. It is championed by nations who enact the Rights of Nature and by the actions of groups like TreeSisters(3).

  • Unmet Pledges. The goal of mobilising $100 billion annually to support developing countries affected by climate change by 2020 will not be met until next year, creating a lack of trust between nations. National pledges are not enough to meet the Paris goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C. The calculations to meet net zero don't include the impact of the mining for the metals for green renewable tech, which look set to impact ⅓ of all land (excluding Antarctica)(4).

  • Misplaced Investment. The funding to halt deforestation leads to considerable investment in satellite monitoring, AI and surveillance, which includes tracking food production and individual carbon usage. This raises many concerns regarding civil society freedoms, non-GM food sovereignty and mining for metals under the forests that are being monitored. Very little comparative funding goes directly to communities, trees, protecting inherent rights or strengthening biocultures. One study has shown that less than 1% of climate funding was given to the organisations indigenous communities have established(5).

  • Greenwashed Colonisation & Human Rights Issues. Often the pledges rely on significant investments in practices that maintain the status quo of power. This colonial approach over territories and peoples significantly negatively impacts biodiversity and communities. The same asset management firms are still heavily invested in companies that drive deforestation(6) and increases in mining and gadget-driven solutions with records of not supporting human rights or free and prior informed consent(7).

Voices that represent the needs of the climate

When we hear references to public and private investment, this often means lobbyists for international corporations. Those with the money to invest are likely to have too loud a voice and a strong influence in the direction of scientific research, development and solutions. Examples of solutions coming from geoengineering, carbon capture and storage, mining, pharmaceuticals, climate tech (including surveillance, tracking, bio and nanotech ), and financial markets mean these are the technologies at the table and prompt investment in these practices. Many groups are labelling these 'false solutions'.

This year, 686 fossil fuel lobbyists were represented, 25% more than in 2021(8). Less than half of this figure were original peoples and nations represented through the UN accreditation system. This is even though original peoples and nations currently safeguard 80% of the world's biodiversity(9). Rarely is there ethical consultation on the design or ramifications of the mechanisms presented despite the assumption that all communities will want to work under this level of control.

The calls from official groups representing women, such as Women and Gender Constituency(10), to the UNFCCC, are that we focus on solutions that care for communities and ecosystems. Centring "the leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and women in all their diversity to manage land in sustainable ways, through ecosystem-based approaches and free, prior and informed consent."

TreeSisters will continue to focus on contributing in ways we can be confident are positively and directly impacting trees and their communities. We will also maintain a watchful eye on world governments' measures to lessen the destruction of our home, climate cycles and the exploitation of people and natural resources. Yet while the same methods that brought about these issues are touted as the solution, our hopes will remain focused on routes that support the inherent rights of all beings.

The ancient climate anchors of mountains, forests and waters, as represented by the human communities who live with them, will never have the same lobbying influence or money behind them. Instead, they have the infinite wealth of the conscious intelligence of Nature and knowledge of how to live in balance and safeguard healthy living ecosystems and eco-centred cultures. The voices of landscapes with great mountains, forests and lakes come through when national negotiators, original peoples and lawyers address the rights of nature and peoples. Nature and communities are where the real power lies. Providing the shared wealth, eco-centred decision making and long-term solutions these conferences are surely looking for.


Footnotes & references





5. 6.






Small Running Title

How Your Mangrove Trees are Saving Lives and Landscapes

bottom of page