Opening Remarks by Mr. Kenichi Mizuno Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the Conference on Asia Forest Partnership (AFP) for the WSSD

July 31, 2002
Tokyo, Japan

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to have this opportunity to say a few words at the opening of this International Conference on Asia Forest Partnership (AFP) with the participation of experts from governments, international organizations, NGOs, industries and think tanks in the world.

First of all, I would like to refer to the great importance of promoting sustainable forest management in Asia, in particular, in the ASEAN region in order to advance its economic prosperity and environmental well-being. The people in Asia enjoy the blessing of nature including forests. Forests provide our lives with multiple benefits, such as conserving land and water resources, providing forest products, preserving bio-diversity.

Considerable work for sustainable forest management is already being undertaken in Asia. Governments, international organizations, NGO's and others participating in this meeting are all making contributions to this end.

Japan has been promoting sustainable forest management in the ASEAN region and in China through a variety of schemes including Official Development Assistance (ODA), various project-type bilateral technical cooperation, being one of them. Japan's contributions include technology development in Malaysia, planning research and afforestation in Vietnam, prevention of forest fire and biodiversity conservation in Indonesia, reforestation and research for agroforestry in Thailand, research for afforestation in the Philippines, afforestation and forest conservation in Laos, community forestry training in Myanmar, capacity building for forest sector in Cambodia and reforestation and research for forest conservation in China.

In addition to these bilateral efforts, Japan is also supporting many projects for capacity building, technical cooperation and various researches through ITTO, in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar and China.

In spite of these efforts by Japan and by many others, forest degradation is continuing at an alarming rate. Further action should be taken by the international community in order to ensure the multiple benefits of forests for future generations.

In a month, a very important, once-in-a-decade global conference is to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa: the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). This will be a good opportunity for all of us to re-affirm the importance of forests and to try to find concrete ways for the betterment of Asia's forests.

In the Final Report on G8 Action Programe on forests issued at the occasion of G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Whistler last June, G8 members emphasized the importance of forests in the context of the WSSD and underscored the need for new and innovative partnerships to address some of the remaining challenges in forest management.

It is against this background that Japan, in collaboration with Indonesia, has been calling on other Asian countries, donor countries and organizations and civil society to join hands in "Asia Forest Partnership (AFP)", which is a framework to improve cooperation on forests in Asia. The purpose of AFP is to promote sustainable forest management in Asia, by furthering cooperation in addressing the urgent issues, such as, forest law enforcement, illegal logging, forest fire prevention and rehabilitation and reforestation of degraded lands in Asia.

Japan is hoping to launch AFP officially, with many partners, during the session of WSSD and to hold a workshop as a "side event" for its dissemination. I believe we have made very good progress toward this goal. In the morning, experts from governments and international organizations discussed AFP and they agreed, in princeple, upon the text of AFP as Type 2 Document of WSSD. Activities by the civil society including NGOs, industries and think tanks are essential in the implementation of AFP, and they are invited to join in this partnership. For this reason I look forward to the opportunity, today, to exchange views with governments, international organizations and civil society on how to meet the challenge of promoting sustainable forest management in Asia.

Thank you.

Back to Index