Forest and Trees

Forests and trees play significant roles in the lives of Pacific Islanders, economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. In many Pacific island countries, especially on the smaller islands and atolls, agroforestry and tree crops provide most of the food, medicines, construction materials, firewood, tools and myriad of other products and services that cannot be replaced with imported substitutions. For the larger countries, forests have contributed significantly into their economic development in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment and infrastructure development. Thus, a major challenge for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) is to ensure sustainable management of their scarce and diminishing forest and tree resources, taking into account demands for economic development and the social and environmental needs of their growing populations, LRD-SPC is addressing this under its Forest & Tree programme.

Financing sustainable forest management of Pacific forests
Friday, 31 October 2014 08:23
A three-day workshop organised by Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) on the topic 'Climate change financing for forests in the Pacific' is currently under way at the Novotel Hotel in Lami, Fiji.

According to Mr Ryo Nakamura, Forest Affairs Officer with the UNFF Secretariat, UNFF is the only global intergovernmental policy platform within the UN system dealing with all issues related to forests, recognising the need to widen the debate on forests beyond deforestation and afforestation, to a broader sense of their economic, environmental and social values.

Mr Nakamura explained: ‘The central objective of UNFF is to promote sustainable forest management (SFM) worldwide and to strengthen political commitment towards SFM.

‘Against this background, the facilitative process was established in 2009 within the UNFF Secretariat to assist member states in mobilising funds for forests,’ he added.

Mr Nakamura added that, this year, they had launched a project approved by the UN General Assembly aimed at harnessing climate change finance for forests. This workshop marks the last of three global workshops will help achieve the aim.  The first was held in Tehran, Iran, earlier this year for Central Asia, and the second was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this month for the Southern Africa region.

‘The primary objective of this workshop is to identify key action points to address challenges in harnessing climate change financing for forests and to improve the flow of climate change funding in the Pacific region,’ Mr Nakamura said.

‘These action points will then serve as a basis for a regional action plan to increase climate financing for forests in the Pacific.’

Mr Nakamura also mentioned that the outcome of the workshop would be posted on the UNFF website and shared with countries of other regions.’ He said.

As part of this project, a regional study on climate change financing for forests in the Pacific is being carried out.

Its preliminary findings suggest that, while considerable progress has been made by several countries in harnessing climate change financing for forests in the region, its distribution remains highly uneven among countries in the region.

‘Climate change financing represents a formidable opportunity in today’s world in supporting the implementation of sustainable forest management. It is therefore critical to identify those key actions which will increase the levels of much-needed financing for sustainable forest management and make its distribution more equitable across the Pacific,’ Mr Nakamura said.

He added that much remains to be done, especially by regional organisations, notably SPC, which could play a key role in this regard, and UNFF is also here to assist SPC in this task through the facilitative process.

‘In this regard, the deliberations of this workshop will be of great value to broaden our understanding of how climate change financing can be harnessed for SFM at the national, regional and international levels,’ he said.

‘We are also closely following the ongoing forest financing work under the UNFCCC process, particularly under its Standing Committee on Finance. In order to have a comprehensive SFM strategy, it is critical that the finance addresses all seven elements of SFM: extent of forest resources; biological diversity; forest health and vitality; productive functions of forest resources; protective functions of forest resources; socio-economic functions; and a legal, policy and institutional framework.’

SPC’s Sairusi Bulai echoed these sentiments and acknowledged UNFF support for the Pacific in organising the workshop for the region.  He also said that the workshop was very timely, given the need of many Pacific Island countries to identify and access new funding sources to support them in implementing programmes for the better management of their forests.

‘We are willing to continue and strengthen our collaborative activities with UNFF to harness and promote sustainable forest management in Pacific Island countries,’ said Mr Bulai.

Twenty delegates from ten Pacific Island countries are attending the three-day workshop.

[Ends]

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We acknowledge our major donors/partners in supporting Forestry initiatives in the Pacific