Smaller nations are already feeling the effects of climate change and are working towards more sustainable development policies by encouraging closer collaborations between government, private sector, NGOs and development partners. This was the message from leaders in the Pacific Islands as they began the second day of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
Speaking at the summit Mr Osea Naiqamu, Minister for Fisheries and Forestry for Fiji, called for the integration of policies in working towards stronger policies for sustainable forest and land management. “We are moving in a time where forestry can no longer be separate from agriculture and fisheries.” The island nation is among several vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the worst cyclone on record hit his country in March this year, leaving widespread damage and 44 dead.
Echoing this message, Vanuatu’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Mr Matai Seremaiah, said his country developed a climate change policy and put 20,000 hectares of natural forests under protection to reinvigorate their forests.
Private sector representatives say they are also keen to invest and partner with governments, communities and forestry experts to develop and implement forest conservation projects. Mr Dharsono Hartono, Chief Executive Officer of Indonesian company Rimba Makmur Utama, believes more participation in critical areas from the private sector can benefit communities.
“We need to show that we can generate revenue by selling the carbon credits to make the projects sustainable. Then, we can attract other private sectors partners to get involved and improve the lives of smallholders.’’
At the summit’s opening speech, Dr Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), called for an integrated approach to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement, and to redefine ‘forestry’ to achieve poverty alleviation, improved health and economic benefits.
“We will not realize the full potential of forests and forestry in sustainable development unless we work across traditional institutional boundaries. The common denominator that brings us together is landscapes. Landscapes with a wide diversity in shapes and sizes will be a cornerstone for the future we want.”
This year’s summit is hosted by the Government of Brunei Darussalam; and supported by the Government of Australia, with CIFOR as the science and engagement advisor.