Åpningsinnlegg på FAOs skogmøte i Roma

Klima- og miljøminister Vidar Helgesen var invitert til å holde åpningsinnlegg for FNs ernærings- og jordbruksorganisasjon, FAO, sitt store skogmøte i Roma denne uken. Her er hans innlegg:

Your Royal Highness,


Ladies and gentlemen,


Last year saw some rearkable achievements. In a world  often marked by polarization and stalemated multilateral processes, the world came together behind the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

Both achievements are truly global.

The SDGs are goals for all countries, not only for developing countries. Or rather, they make clear that all countries are actually developing countries. The moment we stop developing, we die.

The Paris agreement, likewise, is the first truly global treaty to combat the truly global threat of climate change.

Forests and land use are at the heart of both these landmark agreements.

Forests represent 25-30 per cent of the solution to climate change.

Forests represent immense biodiversity - needed to ensure that the world gets the food, feed, fuel and fibre it needs for development.

At times I come to think that the only problem with forests is that they are not man made. If forests had been a human invention, the inventor would have received multiple Nobel prizes - medicine, economy, peace, at least! - and been one of the biggest heroes of all time.

Instead, today, man too often mismanages forests to the detriment of health, the economy and peace and stability.

Just think of food security. The current global trajectory on climate change and biodiversity loss means we are  undermining future food security.

Food security is obviously and basically about securing food, but the absence of food can also contribute to toppling  governments and be a multiplier of threats to peace and stability.

So forests, agriculture and food are matters of high politics. And therefore, forests can not be managed in isolation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Biodiversity -- as well as food security and agriculture -- are priorities of the SDGs.

The Paris Agreement also recognizes the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse effects of climate change.

If the world is to feed seven billion people- -- rising to over nine billion by 2050 -- then it is imperative to produce sufficient, safe and nutritiousquality food for all, in a way that also keeps humanity’s footprint within planetary boundaries.

When I say "within planetary boundaries", one of the key boundaries we need to respect is that between agricultural lands and the worlds remaining forest areas.

Agriculture is currently the key driver of global deforestation. This must change.

Unless the enormous emissions caused by deforestation are rapidly halted, it will be impossible to avoid global warming beyond two degrees - not to speak of the aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees.

At the same time, I fully recognize the complexities we are facing.

I have met business-leaders and politicians who have argued that "the activities that you call drivers of deforestation, are also drivers of growth".

Our common challenge, then, is to demonstrate that the protection of the world's forests can go "hand-in-hand" with food security, increased welfare and green economic growth.

Is it possible? Yes, it is possible!

It will not be easy, but the alternative pathway will lead to major future difficulties, disruptions and disasters.

The FAO can play a key role in assisting countries in developing the necessary integrated approach to land use.

This will be indispensable to facilitate the production of deforestation-free food, feed, fuel and fibre. All while maintaining ecosystem services.

The thematic focus of this meeting demonstrates that the FAO is mobilizing to take on this daunting task. Working together, sharing experiences, and integrating work streams will be important to achieve success.

Our close partner in the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative, Brazil, has had success in this respect.  They have done so by drawing on a wide basket of measures.

I noted with particular interest -- in the document on the state of the world's forests -- that over the last 25 years it has been possible to increase agricultural production and improve food security without compromising forest cover in 23 countries.

That seven of these countries did this through economic reform is important information.

It is important for the FAO to further disseminate this information,  and I challenge you to integrate the lessons learnt across the entire organization. 

I am a firm believer in the positive role the private sector can play in solving societal challenges. I am encouraged by the rapidly growing number of companies -- including many of the giant agribusiness and consumer goods companies -- that are committing to exclude deforestation from their value chains.

Governments should recognize this business-trend as an invitation to strengthen forest and land-use regulation. The responsible business actors are asking for a level playing field. A playing field where deforestation free production is the norm.

This represents the perfect setting for private public partnerships for deforestation free landscapes.

In such partnerships, the public sector should provide the regulatory framework, enforcement capacity and economic incentives.

The private sector will invest, create jobs, profit and taxable revenue.

The Tropical Forest Alliance, seated at the World Economic Forum, has been established to foster exactly such partnerships.

Through our International Climate and Forest Initiative, Norway is supporting a wide range of initiatives aiming at reducing the carbon emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. 

The FAO is a key partner in this work through the UN-REDD-programme. We look forward to continuing this cooperation. My government intends to continue our efforts and investments in this initiative at least at current level until 2020. We announced in Paris that our climate and forest efforts will continue until 2030.

The objective is “sustainable food production” systems. This was the focus of the Trondheim conference hosted by Norway earlier this year.

It includes silviculture, which must respect the carrying capacity of its local ecosystem and recognize that soils, biodiversity and water are among the planet’s most vital resources.

Continued land degradation is not a viable option: Nature’s capital will lose its innate resilience and before long, our human economic capital and economic systems also begin to lose their resilience.

We will work with FAO and Mexico as hosts of the CBD COP 13 later this year, among others to follow up the outcomes from the Trondheim conference.

Those outcomes, along with the outcomes of your work, are all pieces which when put together will enable us to achieve the sustainable developmental goals.

I wish you a fruitful and successful committee meeting. I trust that you will not shy away from the big questions in your deliberations, and that it will inspire us all.


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