Statement at the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear FOREST EUROPE colleagues, 

First of all, I would like to thank the Spanish government for arranging this conference here in the city of Madrid. 

The development towards a green economy,  is increasingly important in Europe.   

We all agree that forests have an important role in the green economy. Strengthening the role of forests in the green economy cannot be done by politicians alone, it is a major task for the sector itself. The challenge for us as politicians responsible for forests is to recognize that this tasks requires long-term visions. Our task will be to provide the enabling environment for the transformation that is needed in the forest sector in Europe. International cooperation is an important part of this, and is crucial for the forest sector. 

The development towards a green economy is driven by the need to shift from fossil energy and fossil based raw materials, in order to mitigate climate change and provide sustainable economic growth. In Norway, we are now facing decreasing oil prices. This may contribute to advancing the development of green economy in Norway, This is an opportunity for the forest sector. 

Other benefits from forests depend on the ability to make the sector profitable. The current status and development of our forest provides opportunities for increased use of biomass for energy, to substitute more energy demanding construction material by wood, create employment opportunities - and to enhance the environmental values of our forests. 

In Oslo we adopted vision, goals and targets for European Forests towards 2020. We need to strengthen our efforts in order to reach these targets. I think it is crucial that we continue to improve the Forest Europe tools for sustainable forest management. There are changing demands and changing conditions which we must be aware of and integrate into our forest strategies. 

It is our job, during the years to come, to turn the visions of a green economy into reality through an industry based on renewable resources. Previously we have learned from the past and made incremental adjustments when developing the forest sector. Now we have to think bigger. We have to make significant moves. We need to make a leap into the age of bioeconomy or green economy. Let us stop talking about how the forest sector can contribute to the green economy. The forest sector is green economy. It is in our hands, as the forest policy makers in Europe, to contribute to the development of the green economy further, and to convey the importance of sustainable forest management to other sectors. 

Thank you for your attention.