Forests in a green economy
Investing an extra 40 billion US dollars a year in forests could halve deforestation rates, drastically increase rates of tree planting and help create millions of new jobs worldwide, according to a report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The report, 'Forests in a Green Economy' launched Sunday as part of World Environment Day. Bryan Coll reports.
This increased funding – estimated at 40 billion dollars per year – would also help tackle climate change, with more trees removing more carbon from the atmosphere.
The report looks at "ecosystem services"….things like flood protection, water purification or tourism…that forests provide naturally. The UN says that investing in these services can bring big financial returns…and protect the environment.
So where would the money come from? Tim Kasten of the UN Environment Programme says the private sector…as well as governments…should be encouraged to invest:
TIM KASTEN CLIP:
We need to mobilize the investments. And that includes the private sector. Very much so. We need top create incentives to invest in forests, which will invest in our future for a green economy.
The report highlights several "success stories" … countries that have increased investment in forests…with positive results.
India – the hosts of this year's World Environment Day – recently launched its 'Green India' plan. This aims to increase forest cover across 5 million acres…and to raise forest-based incomes for 3 million families.
Speaking at the India launch of the report….Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said forests are a key part of the country's plan for sustainable development
Unlike many countries, India is a net reforester, not a deforester. We've added 300,000 hectares to our forest cover over the last 10 years. Our challenge is not so much to arrest the decline in quantity, but to improve the quality of forests. We have to strike the balance. We need the economic growth to generate the jobs for 8 to 10 million people who join the labour force every year. Yet we know that there is an imperative for sustainable development. We have to protect our forests, rivers, mountains and livelihoods. These are the challenges we face.
Forests are one of ten sectors covered by UNEP's Green Economy Initiative. …An economic model…that aims to drive growth of income and jobs, while reducing damage to the environment.
The Green Economy is one of two main themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Brazil next year.
Bryan Coll UN Radio.