#EverythingIsConnected: trees, climate and biodiversity

Pledge by

Telefónica S.A.

1.5 million trees by 2030 to restore and conserve forest ecosystems and enhance biodiversity.

Conserving, Restoring & Growing, Enabling
This pledge will take place from
2020 to 2030
Brazil, Colombia, Spain

Company website

Pledge overview

At Telefónica we want to help tackle climate change, reverse biodiversity loss and build a greener future through digitalisation. That’s why our targets, validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), aim to reduce emissions in line with a 1.5ºC scenario through our operations, including the value chain.

Our commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, with an interim target of reducing our Scope 1+2 emissions by 90% by 2025 in our main markets, and to neutralise the unabated emissions, will allow us to deploy the most efficient telecommunications network, to create positive outcomes for nature and to position our company for long-term sustainable growth.

The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges, being climate change and biodiversity loss among the most important environmental challenges we face today. These cross-cutting issues, which are clearly interlinked and have impact on nearly all businesses and human activities, can be addressed through nature-based solutions.

Therefore, Telefónica’s unabated emissions will be removed from the atmosphere preferably through nature-based solutions, such as afforestation under ecological principles, reforestation or sustainable forest management. These sustainable and regenerative actions do not only help to store GHG from the atmosphere, but they also improve soil health, enhance biodiversity, reduce deforestation and forest degradation, improve water quality, reduce the risk of natural disasters and increase well-being of local communities.

Supporting these commitments, Telefónica has already planted or conserved over 240,000 trees since 2020 through projects such as Telefónica’s Forest in Spain, projects supporting conservation initiatives of Brazilian ecosystems or engagement initiatives with employees and customers. Telefónica is expanding this effort and expects to plant 1,5 million trees by 2030.

We are currently in the process of identifying the precise absorption projects, having already defined some key characteristics for them, such as use of native species, additional and long-term impact, alignment with social and environmental co-benefits, development under recognised international standards or national schemes and location in geographical regions where Telefónica operates.

Actions in this pledge

  • Conserving trees and forest landscapes

    Supporting actions
    Permanent conservation
    Secure a forest through acquisition or legal agreement to avoid planned or unplanned deforestation or degradation, and/or ensure permanent conservation of land
    Additional details

    In the short-medium term (2020-2025), Telefónica is committed to supporting projects that prevent deforestation and ecosystem degradation and generate emissions reduction carbon credits. In this way, we contribute to stop deforestation, supporting the conservation of existing forest landscapes and promoting the development of indigenous peoples and local communities, providing for sustainable livelihoods.

    These types of projects are especially relevant in some regions where Telefónica has operations, such as Brazil, Peru or Colombia, which have a high rate of deforestation.

    In 2020 and 2021, Telefónica Brazil has supported the conservation of forest ecosystems and landscapes through local REDD+ projects, which have prevented 220,000 trees from disappearing.

    Specifically, these are the Cikel Brazilian Amazon REDD+ and Vale do Jari REDD+ projects, which support the conservation of existing forest carbon stocks and sustainable forest management, both verified with the international VCS standard.


    400,000 trees
  • Restoring and growing trees and forest landscapes

    Supporting actions
    Re-establishment of forest through planting and/or deliberate seeding on land classified as forest, that has been degraded or where trees are unlikely to regenerate naturally
    Additional details

    At Telefónica we are committed to neutralise the GHG emissions that we are not able to reduce, and nature-based carbon removal projects will be the preferred option. From 2025 and onwards we will implement reforestation and afforestation projects that sequester the same amount of carbon emissions than our Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our main markets. Therefore, we have set a target of growing 1.1 million trees by 2030, which will approximately remove more than 400,000 tCO2e from the atmosphere.

    At Telefónica’s corporate level, we have defined a set of criteria for selecting the carbon removal projects and we are currently working in establishing a portfolio of reforestation and afforestation projects that comply with these internal requirements.

    In 2020, Telefónica Spain launched the Telefónica Forest in Palencia (Spain). This reforestation project, which has planted over 12,500 trees of native species in 15 hectares, will help to recover a degraded agricultural area, transforming it for forestry purposes, involving rural communities and boosting the local economy by generating employment. "Telefónica Forest" is expected to absorb 3,000 tonnes of CO2 over its life cycle.

    In addition, in 2021, Telefónica Germany neutralised 20% of its scope 1 and 2 emissions through the Gold Standard-certified CO2OL Tropical Mix project. The project aims to restore land which was used in the past for extensive cattle ranching and convert it into mixed forests by planting 20 different native tree species and protecting more than 30 other species. In addition, the project contributes to biodiversity conservation and provides sustainable timber and cocoa production, certified by FSC, which also improves the economic and social situation of local communities.

    Restoring & Growing

    1,100,000 trees
  • Enabling activities for trees and forest landscapes

    Supporting actions
    Education and capacity building
    Forest / tree species conservation and restoration education programmes, targeted educational and behaviour change campaigns, training and capacity building, including promotion of local and traditional knowledge and practices
    Community mobilisation
    Community mobilisation and engagement activities for conservation, restoration and reforestation, including enabling systems of community governance, etc.
    Additional details

    Telefónica Group has a social action and volunteering corporate programme, “Fundación Telefónica”, which is aimed at all active and retired employees who wish to contribute with their knowledge, time and enthusiasm for the benefit of the community and the environment. Within the Telefónica Volunteers programme, which takes place at all the countries where the company operates, lots of activities are carried out in various fields of action, such as the inclusion of people at risk of social exclusion, helping people with disabilities and/or illnesses, caring for the environment and biodiversity and protecting children, always working with expert social organisations.

    Related to the environmental volunteer activities, engagement activities of our employees for conservation, restoration and reforestation are frequent, as well as targeted educational and behavioural change campaigns. For instance, in 2020 and 2021 more than 2,000 Telefónica’s volunteers participated with over 4,000 hours in reforestation or planting projects, planting around 12,000 plants or trees, and helping restore affected areas.

    In addition, our on-line sales channel “tu.com” allows our customers to offset for free the carbon footprint related to their purchases, considering the life cycle emissions of the mobile phone or the device (tablet, smartwatch, etc) they are buying. This initiative makes our customers aware of their environmental impact and encourages them to reduce their footprint and make purchasing decisions based on sustainability criteria. Specifically, our customers can choose to offset their emissions from Madre de Dios Amazonian REDD+ Project in Peru which helps local families by financing and overseeing the sustainable harvesting of Brazilian nuts; the Reforestation of the Alto Tajo Natural Park in Spain which plants native species to revitalise the area's flora and attract native fauna or a sustainable agriculture project in the Jari Valley in Brazil, that promotes sustainable agriculture and forest conservation. The investment of Telefónica in these projects in 2020 has involved the planting of approximately 1,000 trees.

    Also worth to mention is the campaign “One cell phone, one tree”, in which Telefónica HISPAM pledged to plant one tree for each mobile device that customers would return to our stores or premises. As a result of this initiative, 7.5 ha in the “Nevado de Toluca” national forest reserve (Zinacantepec) in Mexico were reforested in 2021 with 5,250 pine trees.


Carbon benefits

700,000 tonnes co2e in 10 years

Our ecologically and socially responsible approach

Telefónica is committed to work with our project partners in order to ensure that ecological and social issues are considered in our projects and that they generate a positive impact for nature and local communities.

We will comply with relevant recognized standards and guidelines for social and environmental responsible nature-based solutions (such as the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards which identify projects that simultaneously address climate change, support local communities and smallholders, and conserve biodiversity) and we will prioritise projects that select native vegetal species, schedule the planting in an appropriate season according to local climate conditions, have environmental and social co-benefits, work with local communities and involve stakeholders that will be impacted by the project.

Telefónica has defined a clear set of criteria when selecting its carbon offset projects to ensure high quality impacts, such as additionality, long-term impact, certification with recognised international standards or national schemes, verified by an accredited third party, alignment with social and environmental co-benefits and located in regions where Telefónica operates.

The ongoing and future reforestation and conservation projects from which we have bought carbon offsets are certified under credible, high-quality and independent carbon credit standards, such as Gold Standard and VCS or national schemes, such as the Registry of the Spanish Office for Climate Change. In addition, some of these projects are also certified under the requirements of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCB).

Where reforestation activities cannot be certified (for example in the corporate volunteer planting initiatives where scale is not sufficient), Telefónica is always working with local and reputable NGOs.

Our system of accreditation

Telefónica only invests in conservation, afforestation or reforestation projects that certify their carbon removals or emission reductions with recognised international standards (including Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard -VCS- and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard - CCB), or national schemes (Spanish Office for Climate Change - OECC) and are verified by an accredited third-party.

All future project developers and partners will have to undergo a due diligence process and comply with Telefónica’s criteria (additionality, permanence, environmental and social co-benefits).

Our partners

“Grupo Sylvestris” and other local tree planting suppliers and international developers of reforestation and conservation projects.

Local NGOs (e.g. Fundación Juan XXIII Roncalli, Fundación Plantarse or Ecoherencia) for the corporate volunteer initiatives.

Our locations

We are working at locations across Brazil, Colombia, and Spain.

We also have ongoing activities in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Our implementation progress

Pledge implementation progress reporting is managed in collaboration with IUCN’s Restoration Barometer, and is required annually from the year following pledge publication.