COP26 President Alok Sharma’s speech at pre-COP Congo Basin Forests Dinner

Firstly, a huge thank you to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for hosting us.

I’ve just come from a meeting with the President which was extremely constructive.

We discussed a whole range of issues including protection of forests.

What was clear to me in the discussions we had was that the government here clearly recognises the need for sustainable development, the understanding that of course what we have here in the Congo basin forest is one of the great lungs of the world, absorbing 4 percent of global emissions, every year.

A recognition of that was shown at COP26 where a number of us launched the Congo Basin pledge, $1.5 billion of support over a five year period.

So thank you to all the countries that are part of that, and of course a huge thank you to all the countries who are working with us in ensuring that those funds are used appropriately.

If you look at all the funds that have been deployed out of that commitment so far, $300 million has actually been spent.

And of course we all welcome that and we want to ensure that we continue to deliver on our pledges, both on this issue but indeed on all the other pledges that have been made on finance by developed nations.

I also want to say that I hope colleagues felt that in Glasgow, we did put the issue of forest protection and restoration very much at the top of the agenda.

And my friend and colleague Zac Goldsmith who is not here, I know that he will have interacted with many of you on this issue and has done a great job in helping to pull together the Glasgow Leaders Declaration signed by 145 nations covering over 90% of the world’s forests.

And you also know that what we will be doing at COP27 formally, is launching the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership.

It is up to us to show that when we make commitments, these are not just commitments made at one conference and forgotten at the next.

These are commitments that we work to deliver on next year, the year after and the year after that. It’s vitally important that we deliver on the overall commitment we made on the Glasgow leaders pledge on reversing deforestation by 2030.

So, a huge thank you friends for coming together for this dinner, I hope we will be able to have a formal dialogue on all of these issues.

And I also want to end by thanking the Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo for the very constructive discussions we’ve had over the last couple of days as part of pre-COP.

Many of us were in Milan at the pre-COP ahead of COP26 and that provided a positive momentum going into Glasgow.

I do feel from the discussions we’ve had over the last couple of days that we are building that same positive momentum going into Sharm-El-Sheikh

So, thank you for everything that you all do through your governments but also personally on your commitment and your drive of these issues.

I, and indeed the rest of the UK government will continue to engage with all the friends around this table in the days, weeks, months, and indeed years and decades ahead.

Thank you.