Photo: Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society.Photo: Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society

Heikki Holmås at REDD+ Talks

Last updated: 9/22/2013 // On September 18 Minister of International Development, Heikki Holmås, attended the REDD+ Talks at the Wildlife Conservation Society Headquarters in Bronx Zoo. His message to the audience was clear; the importance of the forest is much more significant than we have realized, and we all share a responsibility to address deforestation together.

REDD is a climate change mitigation strategy, a UN program designed to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests. It is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, and Norway is the program’s biggest donor. The REDD+ goes beyond the deforestation. It includes the roles of wildlife conservation, community development and job creation, basic infrastructure development, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks among other benefits. The REDD+ Talks is an initiative hoping to inspire people to reduce their emissions and to support the REDD+ projects.

Executive Director of UNEP, Achmin Steiner, Chief of the Suruí People in Brazil, Almir Narayamoga Surui, and actor and Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, Edward Norton did also speak at the REDD+ Talks. The latter dreaded to follow Holmås’ energetic speech and said “an old saying in the entertainment business is: never follow a passionate Norwegian minister”.  

In his speech Holmås emphasized the importance of working together towards shared objectives. “The developing countries can come a long way by recognizing the contributions of forests to rural development, the development countries by rewarding forest countries that deliver, and the private sector by cleaning up their supply chains through various means. What the civil society can do is to assist all three in reaching these goals”, said Holmås.

Saving the forests with a joint push

Holmås highlighted the importance of the private sector in creating a green economic development that does not lead to deforestation, particularly in the area of agricultural commodity production. He also emphasized the fact that a country can achieve both sustainable development and reduced deforestation at the same time, using Brazil as a leading example. For several years in a row the country has had a record low deforestation, and at the same time they have also had an impressive economic growth. Norway has been supporting Brazil’s efforts to reduce deforestations, and through the International Climate and Forest Initiative we have been engaged in all the major forest basins in the world, such as the Amazon, the Congo Basin and in South-East Asia. “Through our support to multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the UN, in particular the UN REDD program, we have provided support to national REDD efforts in more than forty countries”, said Holmås.

At the end of his speech he assured the audience that Norway is prepared to continue and even scale up its Climate and Forest Initiative beyond our USD 500 million per year, provided that other countries also increase their contributions. A few billion dollars annually to reward emission reductions from forests could have transformative impact, and he once again outlined that with a joint push we can eliminate deforestation from key supply chains, and reach the agreed UN goal to halt and reverse global forest loss.    

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