The 5th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry was held on August 23-25 was chaired by Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Sipla-archa.
In a statement, the Chair provided an assessment of the prevailing views of all APEC member economies as expressed during the course of a meeting. The Chair highlighted commitments from member economies to advance environmentally sustainable and resilient growth and the sustainable management of forest resources to combat illegal logging and associated trade, to exchange best practices, and to promote economic policies and capacity building programmes, the press release stated.
According to the Chair’s statement, the meeting acknowledged Thailand’s host year theme on ‘Open. Connect. Balance’ with the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model that integrates three economic approaches, where technology and innovation are used to create value, reduce waste, and promote a sustainable business model.
“The priority of ‘Balance’ refers to balance all aspects which focusses on promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, with forest resource as one of the key focus areas,” said the Chair. “The meeting also re-emphasised the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, which affirmed the commitment to deliver an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community, and to promote economic policies, cooperation and growth which support global efforts to comprehensively address all environmental challenges, including climate change, extreme weather and natural disasters, and to deliver a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment.”
The statement also mentioned that the welcoming of the Aotearoa Plan of Action, “which sets out individual and collective actions towards achieving the Vision which includes addressing all environmental challenges and support sustainable growth.” In addition, the meeting “congratulated economies on the achievement of the APEC 2020 Forest Cover Goal, set out in the 2007 Sydney APEC Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development, as the region’s forest cover increased by 27.9 million hectares between 2007 and 2020, exceeding the original goal of 20 million hectares by 2020, and acknowledging the support of Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other forest-related organisations”.
The Chair’s statement highlighted that the meeting addressed important issues. This includes reaffirming the implementation of the existing APEC commitments that relate to sustainable forest management, forest conservation and forest restoration.
It was shared that ministers agreed to “Intensify our efforts to maintain forest cover, halt and reverse forest loss, restore and sustainably manage forests as well as increase forest and green areas in urban and sub-urban areas, to enhance livelihoods while also increasing attention to vulnerable groups, including women, youth and girls in all their diversity.”
They committed to “strengthen the cooperation in combatting illegal logging and associated trade, by establishing and implementing effective policies within individual economies, sharing information and best practices among APEC economies and promoting legal timber trade”.
The statement also highlighted further strengthening cooperation with international organisations and other relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, in combatting illegal logging, promoting legal timber trade through joint participation in EGILAT (APEC Experts’ Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade) and other initiatives and enhancing the use of wood and wood products derived from sustainable forest management.
Another area was to “reinforce existing domestic efforts and multilateral cooperation, to work with private sector actors in the international trade of forest products.”
This is in addition to promoting and intensifying “exchange of scientific knowledge to improve the science-policy interface in sustainable forest management and legal timber trade, including through cooperation, technology development and voluntary technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, and capacity-building, between APEC economies”.
Also addressed was to “integrate the consideration of forests and sustainable forest management into post-COVID-19 economic recovery, including climate and development policies, where relevant”, as well as to “contribute efforts to the work under international forest related agreements, declarations, and conventions as relevant”.
A penultimate area mentioned in the statement is to “support climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, along with efforts toward effectively addressing climate change, through sustainable forest management, conservation, reforestation, and afforestation as well as sustainable wood use”.
Lastly, the statement shared that another important issue addressed in the meeting was to “encourage the application of more holistic and synergised approaches, such as BCG economy model in forest sector, particularly in sustainable forest management, to advance the existing work in promote inclusive development in and across our economies”.