APEC to strengthen cooperation in sustainable forest management

JAKARTA – Ministers responsible for forestry from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members are pressing for deeper cooperation to curb deforestation and further biodiversity loss as the region steps up its fight against climate change and advances action for a sustainable future.

APEC economies account for more than 50% of the global forest areas, 60% of global wood products and 80% of global trade in forest products, said a release issued by the 5th APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry and received here recently.

APEC member economies have been working on their ambitious goal of increasing forest cover by at least 20 million hectares by 2020 across the region. The goal has been achieved and exceeded, as the forest cover in APEC increased by 27.9 million hectares between 2007 and 2020.

“Although we have been able to complete our mission in 2020, still, these wake-up calls — which include global environmental threats, particularly climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as economic and social consequences from the Covid-19  pandemic, and other global challenges — all remain key concerns of forest policy,” Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-archa said.

During his opening remarks at the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Varawut highlighted Thailand’s long-term strategy, the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model, to overcome the current global threats.

The model integrates three economic approaches wherein technology and innovations are used to create value and promote sustainable business models in every sector, including forestry, without undermining the need for forest products.

He acknowledged the contribution of the APEC Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade and urged member economies to strengthen cooperation and continue sharing information and best practices on combating illegal logging and associated trade among APEC economies.

“As APEC is the top destination for global forest product trade, it gives the region an additional responsibility in ensuring that forests are sustainably managed,” Varawut said.

“The world is currently jeopardized by the adverse impacts of climate change, and no matter where we are or who we are, we cannot escape from these impacts,” he added.

APEC ministers recognized that forests play a vital role in tackling climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation, especially to the process of moving towards carbon neutrality and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Hence, Varawut stressed, action is needed to maintain the forest cover and reverse forest loss, prevent forest degradation, and sustainably manage forests.

“We are increasingly made aware of the impact of extreme weather, brought about by climate change, being experienced in many parts of the world, including our region … drought, floods, heat waves … These are surely mother nature’s warning to us of the cost of inaction or slow action,” Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat Rebecca Sta Maria said.

“It is in this context that our meeting here is of significance. Forestry, with its unique role and contribution to sustainable development, has the potential to be a leading sector in achieving green growth,” she said. (Antara)