Summary: 13 December 2007, Bali - Remarks by Stavros Dimas, Member of the European Commission, responsible for the Environment; opening of Commission side event: "Supporting efforts to combat deforestation - the European perspective" at the UN Climate Change Conference.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening, and welcome to this side event at which we will present the European perspective on supporting efforts to tackle deforestation.
Combating deforestation is at the core of many important European environmental and development policy goals and has taken up much of our attention and energy over these past few days. I would like to thank the speakers who have come to share their knowledge and experience with us, particularly Ms Puspa Dewi Liman, Deputy Director for program and evaluation at the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.
Reducing emissions from deforestation is one of the key elements of Europe's vision for a post 2012 climate change regime. All of us here know that emissions from deforestation account for about 20% of global CO2 emissions, so addressing this issue is an important step towards mitigating climate change. But it is of course only one element. A comprehensive strategy also needs to include emissions reductions by industrialised countries and efforts to limit the increase of emissions in developing countries.
Let me underline that reducing emissions from deforestation is not an alternative to making ambitious emissions reductions in other sectors.
When we address deforestation in the context of climate change, we also have to bear in mind the many functions of forests, such as protection of biodiversity and of watersheds and soils. Forests play an important role in poverty reduction by providing products and services for millions of the world's most marginalised people, including indigenous communities.
When managed sustainably, forests are a renewable resource, providing food, energy, employment and materials for society.
We recognise that there are multiple drivers of deforestation, which act both directly and indirectly and at different levels, from the local to the international. Often the drivers are from outside the forest sector and coordinating across different sectors to address them is a major challenge.
Given the different situations of different countries, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. Deforestation can be local problem or a national one, and solutions must be designed to address the specific situation.
We need financial mechanisms and support measures at the international level. National governments need to develop ambitious legislation and implementation measures. The private sector must play a constructive role, including in financing.
However we will not succeed if the drivers of deforestation in a particular area are not taken into account, or if there is no "ownership" of action to address deforestation at the local level.
It is of critical importance to build on lessons learned from the past and from ongoing experiences.
The European Commission is a major provider of development cooperation concerning forests, making available around €40 million per year.
Through this funding, the Commission has supported the conservation and sustainable management of forests in most key regions of the world, and in particular the three main tropical forest areas: South East Asia, the Congo Basin and Amazonia.
The EU has developed the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade initiative - our FLEGT Action Plan - since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. We have done so by building on traditional forestry cooperation activities. FLEGT aims to improve forest governance through a variety of measures, including a scheme to ensure that timber exports to the EU are verified as legal. Indonesia is an important partner in this initiative.
We are also active in the research field. Just 10 days ago the Commission published an international call for proposals to address deforestation in tropical areas with a budget of 4 million euros. Through this call research will provide input to the policy approaches under discussion in the climate change convention.
At this evening's event, we will be presenting our approach to promoting sustainable forest management and combating deforestation using the example of programmes in Indonesia and Central Africa. We will also explain to you how and why this approach has changed over time. This could provide food for thought in the context of our discussions under the Convention.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tackling deforestation is a complex challenge. I believe we will be more successful if we coordinate our efforts and learn from past experiences. The EU stands ready to contribute actively to finding solutions.