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Forest Protection Is Climate Protection, GLOBE Forum Told

BRASILIA, Brazil, February 24, 2008 (ENS) – To combat global warming, the rich countries must create a fund to conserve the Amazon rainforest, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told 100 parliamentarians from around the world Thursday in Brasilia. At the meeting, senior executives of 20 of the world’s largest forestry companies announced that tropical forestry would be based on certified sustainable forest management by the year 2015.

The two day Brasilia Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change is the latest in a series of key global forums on climate change that link directly to the Group of Eight, G8, process. It was hosted by the Brazilian Congress on behalf of GLOBE International and the Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development.

Legislators attended from the G8 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the United States – as well as from the emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Mexico.

The lawmakers met to draw up proposals for addressing climate change to be taken to the next G8 meeting in July in Japan.

President Lula da Silva addresses the
GLOBE Forum (Photo courtesy MMA)

During his speech, President Lula argued that in addition to meeting their own emission targets the developed countries should support the climate change and forest conservation efforts that are already being undertaken by Brazil because they benefit the entire planet.

Conservation of the Amazon rainforest helps reduce atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, maintaining the cycle of rains and the necessary conservation of biodiversity, he said.

Lula suggested that the wealthy countries pay the costs of reducing deforestation and the protection of forests by means of voluntary contribution, a proposal he has made at the past two United Nations climate change conferences in Nairobi in 2006 and in Bali in 2007.

The president said that in the last four years Brazil has invested more than US$250 million to combat deforestation of the Amazon, “an unprecedented amount of resources, but far short of the required to fully reverse the framework of the region.”

Environment Minister Marina Silva
(Photo courtesy MMA)

Environment Minister Marina Silva said that actions by the Brazilian government have brought the rate of deforestation down 59 percent over the last three years, even after the 10 percent increase in deforestation in the last four months of 2007, detected by satellite monitoring by the National Institute for Space Research, INPE.

Brazil will achieve a reduction of deforestation also in 2008, Silva said.

The forestry executives have been participating in GLOBE’s ongoing dialogue on Illegal Logging and Sustainable Forestry along with senior lawmakers and representatives of civil society and international organizations. More than U$15 billion dollars are estimated to be lost per year in government revenues to developing countries due to illegal logging practices.

Environment Minister Silva emphasized that the Brazilian government is dealing with illegal logging with an “agenda of force” including surveillance, repression and penalties and at the same time is investing in alternatives for sustainable development.

“As senior executives of companies dependent on the integrity of tropical forests we understand and acknowledge the problems caused by tropical deforestation and degradation,” said Andres Gut, chairman of Precious Woods, a major timber producer in Brazil and Central Africa. “We firmly believe that tropical timber production remains a vital economic activity but only when conducted on a sustainable basis and certified accordingly.”

The vision set out by the forestry CEOs is based on six pillars:

* Credibly certified sustainable forest management
* Forest revenue generation that includes timber, non-timber products, and ecosystem services
* Collaboration between forest enterprises and local communities
* Coherent and efficient markets for forestry products worldwide
* Technology transfer to enable value-adding in timber producing countries to boost job creation
* Financing mechanisms tailored to the needs of the source countries

“This vision from the private sector is not a public relations exercise – it represents a statement of genuine intent that will require radical change in the way business operates,” said GLOBE’s Forestry Dialogue Chairman Barry Gardiner MP, who is also the UK prime minister’s special envoy on forestry.

“This step from the industry will need to be matched by political commitments to develop new financing mechanisms that recognize the true value of forests, within ecosystems services,’’ said Gardiner, who has been working closely with this group of forestry CEOs.

Roadbuilding opens the Amazon rainforest to logging, ranching and agriculture. (Photo courtesy MMA)

With the increased political focus on the role of forests, in particular following the UN Bali Conference climate agreement that set a Road Map for achieving a successor to the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012, the forestry CEOs wanted to look at how their sector will change and the potential impacts on their business models.

They considered a range of business models from the timber producers in Africa or Latin America, to the timber importers such as Japan, Europe or the United States, to the building merchants and construction companies.

“Governments, legislators, forestry companies, local actors and consumers of forest products and services all need to work together to ensure the long term integrity of tropical forests, which deliver such a wide range of values to society, both locally and globally,” said Simon Fineman, chief executive of Timbmet, the UK’s largest hardwoods importer.

The CEOs propose policy measures to be implemented now – improvements to public procurement policies in producer and consumer countries, specific legislation, access to capital, protection for investors, transparency, value-added processing, and development assistance.

They recommend developing new mechanisms in areas such as global product licensing, ecosystem service markets, and incentives for avoiding deforestation.

Herbert Reef, chief executive of Reef Hout, a timber producing company in Brazil and Cameroon, said, “We are working vigorously to implement credibly certified sustainable forest management practices, which conserve forest resources, protect the interests of local communities, and ensure long-term revenue generation from forest goods, such as timber, and services, such as carbon storage.”

Commenting on the forestry executives’ statement, Katherine Sierra, vice president of sustainable development with the World Bank, said, “It is critical for producers and importers of timber to move their business to the forefront of sustainability by endorsing socially and environmentally responsible practices. This statement of leading companies and their CEOs represents a significant step forward.”

The Forestry CEOs Group includes:

* Balfour Beatty Group (UK & Global)
* DLH-tt Group (Global)
* Rougier (France, Cameroon, Gabon)
* Inter-African Forest Industries Association (representing 90 timber producing companies)
* John Bitar & Co (Ghana)
* Precious Woods (Brazil, Gabon, Central America)
* Reef Hout (Brazil, Cameroon)
* Likouala Timber (Republic of Congo – Brazzaville)
* Timbmet Group (UK)
* Samartex & Plywood Company (Ghana)
* Saint Gobain Building Distribution (UK)

The GLOBE 2012 climate change paper discussed by the legislators in Brasilia centers on the role of biodiversity and ecosystems, which are viewed as allies in the face of climate change.

The head table at the GLOBE Forum
in Brasilia. (Photo courtesy MMA)

Mitigation targets are clearly needed to limit the global temperature increase to no more than +2° Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels, but these targets need to be coupled with effective measures for technology transfer and adaptation for developing countries, the paper says.

The option of biofuels as a mitigation measure needs to be critically assessed when looking at the greenhouse gas emissions of the whole cycle of production, as well as its impacts on biodiversity and livelihoods.

Finally, the GLOBE paper urges that the UNFCCC negotiation process should allow a more equitable participation from all stakeholders, including women, indigenous communities and representatives from developing countries.

More information on GLOBE is online at:

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