Colombia and Norway step up efforts to tackle tropical deforestation

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg urge world leaders to make tackling tropical deforestation a top priority in the lead-up to COP21 in Paris.

This was one of the key messages that emerged from the bilateral meeting and press conference in Oslo today. After the meeting Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development and Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment released a Joint Statement (pdf) outlining their common ambitions for a climate and forest partnership to be established by the end of the year.

Colombia’s rainforest is among the richest forests in terms of its biodiversity on earth, and it is home to local communities, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian communities that have invaluable cultural heritage.

‘Protecting our remaining natural forests is a priority and my Government is fully committed to our goal of zero net deforestation in the Colombian Amazon by 2020. We firmly believe it is possible to both protect and restore our forests while increasing agricultural production and growing our rural economies’, said Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos. 

Last year, Norway and Colombia endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests (pdf), and thereby made a commitment to do their part to reduce and eventually halt natural global forest loss. Colombia was also one of the driving forces behind the Lima Challenge, a ground-breaking initiative taken by 14 forest countries during COP20 in Lima last year, where they made a commitment to significantly reducing deforestation and challenged developed countries to support them through international collaboration.

‘Unless we all work together to protect and restore the world’s tropical forests, we will not be able to reach the two degree target, build resilience to the inevitable consequences of climate change, or develop more productive and sustainable agriculture to feed a growing world population. We applaud the leadership shown by Colombia and other tropical forest countries’, said Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

There is growing evidence that green economic growth, social development and reduced deforestation can be combined. Colombia is one of the forward-looking countries that is embarking on a low-deforestation development path. It recently launched green growth as a core pillar of its new National Development Plan.