The Paramaribo Dialogue: A Country-Led Initiative on Financing for Sustainable Forest Management In Support of the UN Forum on ForestsMs. Stephanie Caswell, Director, Environment and Natural Resources Conservation
September 8, 2008
Mr. President, Excellencies, friends and colleagues. The United States is pleased to co-sponsor the “Paramaribo Dialogue” on Financing for SFM. – And we warmly thank the Government of Suriname for inviting and welcoming us to Suriname.
The United Kingdom, Norway and the Africa Development Bank have launched the Congo Basin Forest Fund to help protect the region’s forests and promote livelihoods. Over 200 million dollars has been pledged so far. This is in addition to funds being generated through the Congo Basin Forest Partnership -- which since 2002 has mobilized 85 million dollars from the US alone.
These and other new and emerging funds represent a significant increase in the future flow of financial resources to developing countries – And we will learn more about them this week.
However, the reality is that public financing generated from taxpayers in donor countries will never be sufficient to support ALL the efforts of ALL countries to improve their forest management and governance.
What this new influx of public money can and should do is provide a catalyst for leveraging much greater funding from private and other non-government sources. The question is how?
For example, commercial timber harvesting and processing is worth billions of dollars a year. How can countries create an enabling environment that makes investing in SFM attractive to domestic and foreign companies?
Many countries are developing innovative ways at local and national levels to value forest ecosystem services, such as water, soil, carbon and biodiversity, to generate revenue from and for forests. What can governments do to institutionalize payments for ecosystem services and how can the international community assist?
In the last decade, we have seen the enormous funding power of philanthropic foundations and celebrity causes that are focused on poverty alleviation, food security, community development and the environment? How can we tap into this funding for forests?
We hope to work together this week to begin to answer some of these questions and identify what could be a tremendous portfolio of opportunities to generate financing for forests. We will hear from some wonderful speakers on this “portfolio” of opportunities.
While there have been many meetings on forest financing over the years, this meeting may be the first to bring together not only forest experts, but also financial experts – people who know how to raise money and generate revenue.
Our goal is to educate ourselves and each other on what is already happening around the world and what is possible. We want all of you to tell us about the tools you are using -- and that others could also use -- to give economic value to forests locally, nationally and globally.
This is not a negotiation. It’s not a dry run for the UNFF experts group which will meet in Vienna in November. While we hope our interaction here will help inform that discussion, we are not seeking to force a consensus.
So I encourage all of you to listen. Participate. Share your knowledge and experiences. And help us identify practical ways to conserve the economic, social and environmental benefits provided by forests.
Released on September 10, 2008