Dec 17, 2009
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Designer Vivienne Westwood & artist Maya Lin call for crucial forest agreement at COP 15

Dec 17, 2009

Copenhagen, 16 December 2009 - Heads of state from Guyana, Gabon and Papua New Guinea, as well as artists, and fashion designers turned out in force for the world's forests at a special gala event in Copenhagen.

Vivienne Westwood

The event, during the UN climate change meeting, was aimed at supporting more funding toward slowing deforestation, a major contributor to climate change, also linked to poverty.

So far, six developed countries have committed US$3.5 billion in early funding for forest preservation in the first concrete financial commitment in Copenhagen.

The US, UK, France, Japan, Australia and Norway have pledged money over the next three years to kick-start a global financial fund, called REDD+, under which rich countries would pay developing nations to preserve and enhance their vital forests.

According to the rainforest nations, 20-25 billion euros are needed for capacity building, so that countries can deliver the full mitigation potential of forests for climate and local communities, when performance payments are due after 2013.

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) has had wide support from rich and poor countries in the talks in the Danish capital, but kick-start funding has been a key demand from developing nations.

"We have shown over and over again that leaving forests standing saves billions of dollars. I ask us all to celebrate tonight, but not to be starry-eyed. It is not money for free, it is payments for performance. REDD will not develop its potential outside of an ambitious climate deal," said Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana, during the gala event.

"REDD represents one of the greatest opportunities for dealing with the twin challenges of climate change and environmental degradation. It is also a central measure towards a Green Economy in terms of jobs and livelihoods," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Deforestation is responsible for nearly a fifth of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions and curbing forest loss is regarded as a key way to brake the pace of global warming.

Maya Lin, the world-renowned artist and designer debuted her new media piece - Unchopping a Tree - and British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Anvil Knitwear joined forces to launch a limited edition T-shirt today to support the efforts of rainforest nations.

"I am so glad to have had the opportunity to do this tiny, tiny thing - design a T-shirt - every little bit helps," said Vivienne Westwood. "ACT FAST/SLOW DOWN and stop climate change. That's the message. We must all commit ourselves. Say YES to the Rainforest."

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