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UNECE and FAO discuss role of forests in a green economy at Rio+20

Published: 22 June 2012

An event organized by UNECE in cooperation with FAO, WHAT IS YOUR PRIORITY ACTION FOR THE FOREST SECTOR TO SHOW THE WAY TOWARDS A GREEN ECONOMY? was held today in Rio de Janeiro to discuss priority actions for the forest sector in a green economy.

In his opening statement, Mr. Sven Alkalaj, UNECE Executive Secretary, said that  UNECE and FAO have been working together for the last year and a half to prepare an Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy. He stressed that ACTION is the focus of our efforts, and only action could facilitate the transition towards a green economy, as forests are faced with more and more demands. “What we call the multinationality of forests will be tested as we ask forests to store more carbon and conserve more biodiversity while at the same time increasing their productivity and diversifying their products, from raw materials, to wood for energy, to non-food forest products” he added.

A message from Mr. Eduardo Rojas, Assistant Director General of FAO on Forestry stressed that the UNECE-FAO Action Plan is intended to define the ways in which the UNECE region’s forest sector can or could contribute to the development of a green economy, and monitor progress but also share and promote best practices in this field, building on cooperation between all the actors in the field, at the national, regional and international levels.

Priority actions for their respective countries were presented by Mr. Jari Koskinen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, Dr. Veysel Erog’lu, Minister of Forest and Water Affairs of Turkey, and Mr. Magnus Kindbom, Vice Minister for Rural Affairs of Sweden.  

Finland stressed the importance of promoting the transition towards a bio-based economy and in particular the key role that forests and forest products can have in this context. In this regard the Minister stressed the need for investments in green bio products and the need to seize the many  opportunities offered by forest based products that can for instance be used in the building sector.

Turkey noted how forests are already contributing to a green economy in the country, through products, ecosystem services and green jobs. Economic incentives and measures will be developed in Turkey for instance to support ecosystem services. Other mechanisms already exist, for instance to share the benefits generated by ecotourism and hunting. with local populations.

Sweden presented the country’s priorities currently included in the ‘Forest Kingdom’ a four-years strategy for Swedish forests, which covers four main pillars: sustainable use of forests, processing and innovation, experiences and recreation and ‘Sweden in the world’.

Through a participatory exercise, the audience present at the event had the opportunity to write their priority action on a postcard that was collected by the Secretariat and would contribute to the further development of the UNECE-FAO Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy.

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