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How did the Asian and Pacific countries position themselves at COP26?


  • The Asian and Pacific countries are well positioned for pivotal roles in global climate action, especially in the land-use sector.
  • The best opportunity to integrate climate interventions is through national economic development plans, especially post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

Asian and Pacific countries have taken on pivotal roles in many of the COP26 interventions. By signing the Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use, such countries as Indonesia have provided essential traction. Strategic negotiations around such issues as ending coal use and the inclusion of references to trade under the UNFCCC led to significant changes in the eventual Glasgow Climate Pact.

The experiences of the ASEAN Negotiating Group for Agriculture provide lessons for engagement in global climate discussions. They show that even when a group is initially small and has limited traction, incremental capacity-building and targeted amplification of interventions through consolidated efforts can lead to huge impact. 

Looking ahead, countries in the Asia–Pacific region are well positioned to take decisive action on climate change, particularly throughout the land-use sector, which is the source of a significant proportion of the region’s emissions. For example, the sector is responsible for 46 percent of emissions in the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“Countries in the Asia–Pacific region are positioned well in terms of contributing to mitigating climate change. The economies showcase a range of policies and plans to promote sustainable forest management. The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration means, to some extent, domestic and international political commitment to sustainable forest management at global scale.” — Lu De, Executive Director, Asia–Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation

Almost all countries in the region are applying measures and targets to reduce land degradation and restore degraded forests. In addition to the Nationally Determined Contributions , these include forest cover targets, reforestation targets, land degradation neutrality targets and forest tenure reforms. The more ambitious of these targets, however, are conditional on countries receiving international support. 

Developed countries have failed to meet a commitment made under the Paris Agreement to provide developing countries with US$100 billion of climate finance per year. This has fuelled concerns that funding may not materialize on the scale needed or committed to deliver these targets. The impacts of COVID-19 on national economies and the prioritization of immediate public services cannot be overstated.

This poses a significant challenge but also creates an opportunity for transitions to green economies. The experts said national development plans are urgently need to embed forests, climate-resilient agriculture and sustainable land-use management within their overall economic approaches.