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Restoring Asia’s forests crucial for global climate, biodiversity goals, and livelihoods

Bangkok, 16 November, 2023 (GNP): Building momentum toward greater investment in Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) in Asia involving both public and private sectors is critical to meet the challenges of climate change and secure millions of livelihoods across the region, an FLR investment forum heard today.

While some progress has been made in reforestation efforts in Asia and the Pacific, the region has continued to witness a decline in natural forests in recent years.

In order to reverse this trend, countries across the region have recognized that investing in FLR is in everyone’s best interests.

To support this aspiration, a Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) Asia Investment Forum was held in Bangkok on 15-16 November, bringing together partners and investors to identify opportunities and modalities for collaboration to strengthen FLR investments in Asia.

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This event, co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), attracted more than 300 registrants from both public and private sectors, as well as Civil Society Organizations.

In total, participants from about 50 countries and 55 organizations deliberated on how to collectively accelerate FLR in Asia to meet several climate, biodiversity and land degradation related targets committed by the countries under the three Rio Conventions.

They discussed strategies to translate the aspirations of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, co-led by FAO and UNEP to field-level results. Delegates from six partner countries including Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste shared their perspectives on challenges and opportunities in upscaling FLR, as identified within the scope of an FAO Regional Technical Cooperation Project (2021-2023). Delegates from Bhutan, China, Japan, Mongolia and Viet Nam also shared their perspectives the way forward.

Participants discussed ways to accelerate FLR for more resilient and sustainable agrifood systems. This discussion took place in the context of advancing the implementation of the Regional Strategy and Action Plan on FLR and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Critical Investment:
Since sustainable FLR finance is essential for meeting restoration commitments, the forum emphasize the importance of more collaborative action and coordinated investments.
“FAO has been at the forefront for advancing FLR in the region both in the context of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and within the framework of the regional strategy and action plan on FLR. I am glad to see several key partners and investors to deliberate on FLR investments and the framework at this Forum,” said Robert Simpson, Special Advisor at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in his opening remarks.

Satrio Adi Wicaksono, Programme Officer, IUCN Asia Regional Office explained various innovative finance options and the relevance of directing such investments for successful FL on the ground. Makiko Yashiro, Programme Management Officer, UNEP highlighted that, “The Forest Landscape Restoration Regional Programmatic Framework plays a catalytic role in further scaling up our actions towards FLR in the Asia-Pacific region, through directing private sector investment towards supporting restoration efforts, building on innovative financing mechanisms and initiatives showcased by partners at this meeting”. The delegates also highlighted the importance of more active private sector engagement and the creation of scalable business models.

Illias Animon, FAO Forestry Officer, emphasized the need of strengthening further partnerships in all possible ways. He highlighted the need for gaining synergies to promote more coordinated and collaborative actions and strengthening the linkages between FLR and sustainable value chains.

The agreed-upon actions and shared ideas at the event are expected to help advance a stronger regional FLR movement that can support the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Asia.