Thank you honourable minister,
Let me start to thank our Japanese hosts and the co-chairs of the REDD+ partnership for organising this ministerial event.
Belgium attaches great importance to synergies between the three Rio Conventions. REDD+ has a great potential to do that. When protecting forests from deforestation and degradation, we can conserve biological diversity, protect other environmental services that forests provide and support development of the livelihoods of forest depending peoples.
We would therefore like to stress the implementation of these ‘synergies’ by ensuring that REDD+ activities supports the multiple functions of forests, like social and economic benefits while also protecting biodiversity. Being here in Nagoya and only a few weeks before the Climate summit in Cancun, we stand ready to progress on REDD+.
Up to now Belgium has been member of the partnership, but we did not present concrete commitments yet. I am pleased to announce that the federal government of Belgium, by his department of development cooperation, has decided to fund this year an extra 10 million euro through the Global Environmental Facility for the new programme on sustainable forest management and REDD+ activities, and this is on top of the new commitments following the last replenishment of the GEF. So this means really new and additional financial efforts as part of the fast start financing for REDD+ for this important and crucial topic.
These efforts come on top of the ordinary projects and programmes of development cooperation on sustainable forest management. Our programmes on rural infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is one of our most important partners in development cooperation, will take into account the REDD+-concept in the implementation of this specific programme. Beside this, Belgium recently supported a process to start negotiations on a voluntary partnership agreement between Congo and the European Union in the context of the European Action Plan on FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade). The implementation of REDD+ in the local systems for sustainable forest management is of uttermost importance for the Belgian development cooperation.
We believe that the interim REDD+ partnership should be an excellent platform to exchange experiences on lessons learnt and experiences between partners, from developing countries, from the donor side as well as from a broad range of stakeholders.
In our view the Partnership must also act as a platform to keep the focus in order to generate momentum and political will towards the next Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC. By delivering concrete results, the partnership can demonstrate that there is a growing willingness to conclude on the guidelines and modalities for REDD+.
I would therefore call upon the colleagues to grasp the opportunity of this COP to send a clear signal that the biodiversity community stands ready to actively cooperate with the climate change community so that mechanisms and instruments with regard to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation contains safeguards for biodiversity, and provisions for monitoring and reporting, also safeguards for upholding rights of indigenous and local communities and improved forest governance.
So, in concluding, we feel that there is plenty of work ahead and that we face a huge challenge. We therefore may hope that the procedural matters of the management of the partnership are settled, and that the partnership accelerates in delivering concrete results. We are confident that with the momentum shown at this ministerial meeting, we stand ready to collectively work together to make this happen.