megacities partner with iconic forests in an expression of solidarity and interdependence, keeping 10B tons of carbon in 40M Ha of forest

Global Cities - Global Forests [C40-F40]

What happens in the city does not stay in the city. We can no longer afford to see the world's megacities as distinct entities. Virtually everything that happens in them have global implications.

With their high concentrations of people, influence, and consumption, megacities have an enormous impact on climate change. Representing half of the world’s population and almost 70% of global emissions, what cities do will be key to meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement.

“Without action, climate change is an existential threat to our future.” - OneNYC
“Healthy forests absorb immense amounts of carbon dioxide, providing essential carbon sinks.” - World Bank Group

Cities have become increasingly distant from forests as globalization separates urban consumers from the ecosystems that support them. Few people realize that commercial-scale clearing of forests to produce globally traded commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, and pulp and paper is now the leading driver of tropical deforestation.

Perhaps as a result of this distance, cities have not systematically incorporated forest conservation into their climate change agendas. Yet the potential for doing so is immense. Stopping tropical deforestation and letting damaged forests recover could reduce current annual global greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent. Because intact forests serve as huge carbon sinks – they currently absorb at least a quarter of annual human-caused emissions – protecting and restoring forests can help counter the emissions from cities, and help keep us within a 2-degree global warming trajectory.

Cities are increasingly committed to combating climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Global Cities - Global Forests (C40-F40) proposes to link the largest and most influential cities with some of the world’s most important forests to stop the deforestation that threatens our climate and other irreplaceable natural systems. This cultural transformation would make forest awareness part of the urban fabric of cities, helping them become carbon neutral and bringing forests into the hearts and minds of their citizens.

The strategy
Currently, most cities focus climate change efforts on reducing emissions. By linking cities with forests socially, economically, and environmentally, C40-F40 will empower cities to proactively protect the globe’s most important carbon stores. Rather than simply reducing their emissions, cities will be able to help sequester millions of tons of carbon through these forest partnerships – a major step towards restoring the carbon balance in the biosphere and achieving carbon neutrality.
How it works:

Each participating city would partner with a distinct forest. Forests would be nominated based on a set of criteria, including:

  • Ecological links (e.g., watershed connections, bird migration routes, local climatic regimes),
  • Cultural, historical, economic, or political links,
  • Material or trade opportunities (forest products, goods or services),
  • Potential for, or presence of, sustainable forest management plan/approach,
  • Existing threats to the forest, and potential for the C40-F40 partnership to mitigate these.

The project will provide support and a “toolkit” to help each city select a partner forest and develop programs to support forest conservation and restoration in this forest, thereby reducing deforestation and enhancing carbon sequestration. This partnership may creatively leverage financing for forest protection (e.g., in collaboration with corporate sponsors, donors, and citizen engagement); use sustainably sourced wood from the forest in visible city landmarks (e.g., Brooklyn Bridge Forest); use other non-timber forest products in the city in a sustained and creative way (e.g., coffee, chocolate); or support travel, research, and exchanges for citizens, students, and leaders between the forest and the city. Most importantly, the C40 cities will become long-term champions for the world’s most important forests and their peoples, modelling a new type of proactive and cooperative globalization, and helping cities achieve carbon neutrality by thinking – and acting – beyond their boundaries.

What’s in it for cities?
Cities partnering with a forest will be part of a virtuous cycle of measurable emissions reduction and carbon sequestration through forest conservation. Citizens will participate through forest-city exchanges that further common objectives, such as expanding the market for forest-friendly products, sustainable education and culture opportunities for youth and adults, and will benefit from biodiversity protection and improved water and air quality. At the foundation of the partnership is a shared belief that cities are only possible if the natural world is also cared for.

Specific benefits to participating cities include:

  • Reducing carbon gaps to achieve carbon neutrality (instead of 80 x 50, achieve 100 x 50).
  • Improving sustainability of municipal procurement practices (e.g., ensuring that wood used in urban infrastructure supports rather than undermines forest conservation) and responsible consumer buying.
  • Promoting inclusivity beyond city boundaries.
  • Accessing funding from new donors and interest groups.
  • Leveraging and aligning private sector CSR commitments and inspiring citizen activism and engagement.

Building on the existiing Networks and Programmes
C40-F40 will:

  • Enhance the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Climate Positive Development Program.
  • Support the City Solutions Platform by promoting engagement between cities and the private sector to deploy climate solutions relating cities to forests.
  • Support the City Intelligence programme by linking cities’ emissions metrics (e.g. through CIRIS, CURB, and GPC) with data-driven metrics of forest carbon storage and avoided deforestation and degradation, thereby closing the carbon circle.
  • Enhance C40 Inclusive Cities to reach beyond city boundaries to marginalized communities and indigenous groups in forest landscapes.

Linking people, bridging discourses
C40-F40 would form direct connections between cities and forests, focusing on concrete ways in which urban and forest communities benefit each other. The goal will be for each city to build stories that are intuitive enough to form the basis of a school lesson plan – for instance, by focusing on the forest from which a city draws its drinking water, or linking a particular historic or new structure with the forest that grew the wood to build it. At the same time, C40-F40 will also build connections between disciplines that are too often siloed, by linking policy makers and academics from various fields – climate adaptation planning, wildlife conservation, economics, urban development – through a common connection to a particular forest.

Biodiversity, economic value, and cultural connections
C40-F40 would help advance the goals of protecting biodiversity and supporting forest-based livelihoods and communities, essential to achieving the stability in forests that lead to long-term climate benefits. The various forms that the city-forest partnerships may take will all involve one common factor: directing financial resources towards forests and the people who care for and depend on them. Equally important, C40-F40 would focus cultural attention on the partner forests by building on existing historical and economic connections and also forging new ties among previously unconnected places. The long-term sustainability of the partnerships will derive from the social and economic connections the program develops.

Working list of forest candidates include:


  • Avenue of the Baobabs, Menabe, Madagascar
  • Niger River Mangrove Forest, Nigeriac
  • Cross River Landscape, Cameroon and Nigeria
  • Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
  • Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda
  • Dlinza Forest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya
  • Makira Forest, Madagascar
  • Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda


  • Maya Biosphere Reserve, Peten, Guatemala
  • Moskitia, Honduras and Nicaragua
  • Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA
  • Great Bear Rainforest, BC, Canada
  • Boreal Forest, Ontario & Quebec, Canada
  • Madidi-Tambopata, Bolivia and Peru
  • Araucaria Forest, Auracania, Chile
  • Andean Cloud Forest, Columbia, Ecuador
  • Amazon Forest, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia


  • Yakushima Forest, Kagoshima Pref., Japan
  • Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Malaysia
  • Leuser National Park,Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia
  • Khao Sok National Park, Surat Thani, Thailand
  • Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India


  • Bialowieza Forest, Poland and Belarus
  • Rambouillet Forest, Ile de France, France
  • Black Forest, Bavaria, Germany
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
  • Foresta Umbra, Foggia, Italy


  • Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia
  • Tarkine Forest, Tasmania, Australia
  • Waipoua Forest, North Island, New Zealand

Middle East and North Africa

  • Belgrad Forest, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve, Barouk, Lebanon
  • Mamora Forest, Rabat, Morocco

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