Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you all to Vientiane, Lao P.D.R. to attend the Global Mechanism, IFAD, and FAO workshop: Climate Change Finance for Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia.
I am happy to see so many of you here, especially as one of the core ideas of this workshop is to bring together actors in the region to share information and forge ties. This is especially important considering that climate change and sustainable land management are issues that transcend national borders, and hence do not need a passport to have an effect on the lives of people.
Today we have more tools to facilitate international cooperation and alignment in the spirit of the Paris Declaration; we have the internet, advanced mapping and file sharing systems and platforms, discussion forums, we have increased awareness of stakeholders, and we have the ASEAN.
Acting together can really reduce duplication and facilitate alignment of actions relating to Climate Change Finance for Sustainable Land Management to enable an optimal atmosphere for the benefit of all, be it the public or private sector, the rural poor, emerging businesses; microfinancing and investments in general.
Climate change is something that will affect our children and grandchildren more than it affects us here today. This is why increased awareness, cooperation, and capacities of all are needed today more than ever.
I would be very happy if all participants would take this opportunity to discuss with each other in a spirit of mutual dialogue, both during the workshop events as well as outside of the technical agenda.
The issues relating to Climate Change and Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia relate to a range of several issues. These issues include speculating on land resources; the price of land has risen dramatically coinciding with the rise in global demand for raw materials such as rubber and pulpwood to meet consumer demands.
The global demand for hardwood has also risen dramatically resulting in increased amounts of timber – especially hardwood – exports within and outside the region, resulting in reduction of carbon sinks and increased GHG emissions from logging residues.
Foreign food habits are causing the growing middle classes to shift from low-carbon diets to high-carbon diets.
Hydropower dams could transform large sections of the Mekong stream into reservoirs, inundating fertile agricultural land, as well as wetlands and forests, and blocking the migration routes of aquatic resources .
FAO has worked on these issues in the past through supporting the Lao government in the fields of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security, Sustainable Forest Management, Water Resource Management, Fisheries and Aquaculture, the conservation and sustainable use of the regions indigenous resources, and training and capacity building including practical methods such as the Farmer Field School, etc.
Hence please feel free to discuss and exchange your views on anything related to Sustainable land Management and Climate Change Finance, be it REDD+, agroforestry, renewable energy, SFM, Traditional Knowledge, wetlands, waterways, or any other issue for that matter. Often times there are no wrong questions and sometimes there is no one right answer; open dialogue and cooperation will bring us steps closer to sustainability.
Also, do not forget to enjoy the atmosphere, the discussion – whether you just listen or comment - as well as the beautiful surroundings, the City of Vientiane and the beautiful country and people of Lao PDR. I wish you success.