The Forests Asia Summit, Jakarta, saw ministers from across Southeast Asia join CEOs, civil society leaders, development experts and the world’s top scientists, to share knowledge on how the region can accelerate the shift toward a green economy by better managing its forests and landscapes.
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions. Its economy is growing rapidly led by a rising middle class but it faces major policy challenges: inequality, uncertain land tenure, unsustainable land use, a loss of biodiversity, food insecurity and climate change. Against this backdrop, some Southeast Asian economies are adopting a green-growth approach, voluntarily establishing targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to sustainably manage their forests and landscapes. Similarly, leading businesses are committing themselves to sustainable land use and investment practices.
Still, more needs to be done. Agricultural expansion in Southeast Asia threatens the world’s third-largest tropical forest and the many ecosystem services they provide. And unsustainable land-use change has made the region one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Informed by the latest research and best practices, the Forests Asia Summit allowed participants to share knowledge with policy makers and each other in the pursuit of new green-growth pathways for development.
The Summit – organized by the Center for International Forestry Research and co-hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry – was the largest in Asia in recent years and attracted more than 1,000 leading stakeholders from Southeast Asia and across the world. Thousands more participated online or through nationwide broadcasts. There were special learning events with leading global experts on the Green Economy, the Southeast Asian haze crisis, climate change negotiations and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Forests Asia was informed by and will inform national initiatives and key processes in Southeast Asia:
- Promote bilateral and multilateral exchanges to improve the implementation of green growth policy.
- Strengthen law enforcement and governance relating to land tenure, land use and trade.
- Develop a low-carbon economy and enhance adaptation capacity to achieve win-win synergies between climate change and economic development.
- Re-affirm the potential for REDD+ in ASEAN and lessons learned thus far for climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods.
- Find the balance between economic growth and social development to reduce and prevent negative impacts to food security.
An outcome statement was compiled from reporting from the sessions at the Forests Asia Summit to provide an overview of messages throughout the conference. In summary, the reporting concludes that:
- To achieve equitable and sustainable green growth in Southeast Asia, all stakeholder groups must strive to overcome communication barriers, engage in continued, participatory dialogue, and act together within a landscape and multilevel governance framework.
- Government, the corporate sector and the finance sector must work together to create enabling conditions to unlock private capital and support investments in sustainable landscapes and smallholders.
- The scientific community, with support from the public and private sectors, must engage in integrated and targeted research aimed at increasing understanding of the dynamics that shape landscapes and communicate findings to government and business in a way that supports evidence-based changes in policy and practice toward a sustainable future and action on the ground.