September 21, 2022, New York
In the first of what will be an annual event, CfRN’s ‘Rainforest Night at Gotham,’ a tribute to the work done over the past two decades to slow deforestation, was a big hit. It took place on September 21st at Gotham Restaurant in New York City. Coinciding as it did with Climate Week and the UN General Assembly assured that the over one hundred attendees included top-notch dignitaries from rainforest nations, as well as representatives from corporations and foundations concerned with sustainability, and other attendees from a range of climate change related causes.
Her Excellency, Ève Bazaiba, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment from the Democratic Republic of Congo spoke from the heart about the importance of climate finance to her country’s forests. “Africa is at one and the same time a victim of climate change and contributes to solving the problem. That is why we need a just solution” in the form of climate finance. Baizaiba referred to the fact that Africa itself contributes a de minimus amount to the atmospheric carbon emissions annually, and its Congo Basin rainforest absorbs multiple of that.
His Excellency Lee White of Gabon is a biologist with decades of field experience who has been at the center of forest-friendly policy in Gabon. “By making our forests economically important and contributing to the economy of Gabon, that’s how we think we can make the forests survive,” White said. He told the group that the country’s offering of carbon credits from rainforests was “elephant positive,” and touted the benefits of a carbon credit from Gabon over one generated by shuttering a hypothetical factory in Europe, the difference being that Gabon’s credits promote biodiversity. In the time Gabon has aligned government policy to save its forests, its African forest elephant population has nearly doubled, White said, accounting for about two-thirds of those remaining on the planet.
Jens Nielsen, Founder and CEO of World Climate Foundation (WCF), who had hosted the well-attended World Biodiversity Summit earlier the same day, reiterated the WCF’s commitment to building a network of supportive partnerships with CfRN and other climate forward organizations. Johan Eliasch, CEO of HEAD Sports Group spoke of the importance of countries such as Sweden and Denmark and corporations domiciled there showing support for rainforest nations by buying sovereign carbon credits.
The speeches were interspersed with music, and of course, delicious food. Vocalist Stefanie Tom, from Trinidad and Tobago, and rap artist Baba Brinkman performed a climate-friendly duet. Gotham restaurant’s award-winning cuisine featured a range of tasty hors d'oeuvres and a main course of previously frozen slow-shipped salmon, wild caught from Alaska. The meal met the high standards of Paul Greenberg, author of The Climate Diet, who addressed the group at the end of the evening with a short talk on how everyone can change their diet to save the planet.
Just when it seemed that Rainforest Night could not get much better, Baba Brinkman ended the evening with a brilliant impromptu “rap up,” pulling together all the speeches and big ideas in one final song. The ending refrain was “no one can do more than us…it’s Rainforest Night so step inside for a bite…keep the target in site, reducing damage is nice, but the target is life and death. So, choose life.”