BOGOR, Indonesia (Landscape News) – Discussions at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) in Indonesia next week will kick off with a focus on how best to balance economic development and biodiversity conservation while reducing carbon emissions.
International delegates are gathering in the historic city of Yogyakarta, the heartland of Javanese culture, to attend preliminary meetings in preparation for the conference, which will run from April 23 to 25 and is expected to attract 600 delegates.
In the Asia-Pacific region, forests make up 26 percent of land area, covering 740 million hectares of land. Worldwide, the area contributes 18 per cent of total forest cover, making careful management vital to keep global warming in check and meet goals established by the U.N. Paris Agreement.
The agreement struck at U.N. climate talks in 2015 obliges countries to keep global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
“Through this summit and the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) we will strengthen our regional collaboration and enhance our efforts, domestically and globally, for the welfare of humanity and nature,” said Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Indonesia’s minister of environment and forestry.
Under the terms of the Paris accord, each country must prepare, communicate and maintain nationally determined contributions (NDCs), a process supported by the NDC Partnership (NDCP). In country capacity building, financial support and information sharing form the main mandate of the partnership.
Forests are important for three key reasons, said Lee Cando, NDCP regional specialist for Asia and the Pacific.
They act as carbon sinks to offset the effects of warming emissions, but they are also a source of emissions through deforestation.
“Forests are also a foundation for livelihoods and food security of a significant portion of country populations, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable,” she said.
The Asia-Pacific region is under threat in part due to agricultural expansion to meet food security needs.
Delegates will discuss how to conserve ecosystem balance, biodiversity and the existence of forest resources amid sustainable development initiatives.
Also in line with the APRP, which coordinates the rainforest conference every two years, delegates will explore ways to reduce emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation, a U.N. carbon trading initiative known as REDD+.
Conference discussions on forests dovetail with the anti-poverty U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which will also play a central role in conversations on how to shape national policies to contribute to a reduction in rainforest loss and support sustainable economic development.
Strengthening forest governance is also key, and delegates are expected to discuss ways to fight illegal logging. Representatives from timber, palm and other commodity-based, restoration focused companies, financial institutions, and professional services, will participate.
More than 450 million people rely on forests for their livelihoods in the Asia Pacific region, and the summit, this year titled “Protecting Forests and People, Supporting Economic Growth,” also offers the chance for countries to promote projects that aim to balance economics and conserve forests.
In addition to Paris Agreement NDCs, topics will include restoration and sustainable management of peatlands, mangroves and blue carbon, community forestry, ecotourism, and investment and trade.
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