CBFP Facilitator Delegate attends Washington Global Forest Leaders Forum

(World Bank Press Release) International efforts to combat climate change received a boost with consensus amongst a diverse group of global forest leaders on a new set of principles dealing with sustainable forestry. A two-day meeting in Washington, organized by The Forests Dialogue (TFD) in conjunction with the World Bank, covered a wide range of issues. These included how to deal with the drivers of deforestation to supporting local processes that clarify and strengthen land tenure, property and carbon rights. Together, the six agreed principles help reinforce the message that sustainable forest management is central to combating climate change and needs to be reflected more fully in the on-going global climate change policy discussions.

Participants recommended, however, sharpening the principles to make them more action-oriented and client-focused. A final statement which encapsulates the principles will be launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October 2008, and presented to the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention in Poznan, Poland, in December.

“We know that if we are going to be successful in tackling climate change we have to do it in partnership and we must involve those who manage the forest resources on the ground,” said Stewart Maginnis, Head of the Forest Conservation Program at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one of the co-leaders of TFD. “We need every sector represented in these discussions and that’s what we had here.”

The Washington meeting was the culmination of seven months of global dialogue, led by TFD, with a wide range of stakeholder groups. That dialogue refined a multi-stakeholder vision for the role forests should play in future climate change arrangements. The Washington meeting was called to obtain support of that vision from the leaders of organizations and groups active in the conservation and management of forests. The meeting was attended by over 100 leaders and participants from governments, international institutions, the conservation community, indigenous peoples’ groups, forest owners’ associations, research agencies, and the private sector.

“In addressing climate change, business has an important role to play in spreading the practice of sustainable forest management to produce fiber for wood and timber products and bio-energy, and deliver crucial ecosystem services like water and carbon ,” said James Griffiths, Managing Director at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, TFD’s other co-leader. “This group is in the unique position to both reduce its carbon emissions and sequester more carbon in forests and harvested wood products.”

Participants agreed that the world’s forests have immense potential to address the causes and consequences of climate change and help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if managed sustainably. Forests store five times more carbon than what is in the atmosphere, and over one billion people depend on forests or agro-forestry for income, food, energy, medicines, or shelter. Manufactured forest products contribute US$450 billion a year to the world economy. Yet, despite their importance, 12-14 million hectares of forests are being destroyed every year.

“Despite the varied perspectives and interests of leaders from different sectors and from around the world, there was real and welcome agreement on the fundamental importance of several key principles of sustainable forest management in addressing climate change,” said Gerhard Dieterle, World Bank Forestry Advisor. “We have also received valuable feedback on how to further strengthen a consensus document on these principles,” he added.

The Forest Dialogue was established as a result of the first CEO Forest Forum hosted by the World Bank in 1998. The Dialogue seeks to support and reinforce existing efforts related to forest management. Members participate as individuals, not organizational delegates, and reflect diverse perspectives.

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