Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Perhaps we can add to that list that change is yet another certainty.
Most of the people in the room will be aware of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study coordinated by FAO. In fact, many of you will have worked on the study or contributed to it. The findings of this comprehensive four-year study were released in 2010, along with a wealth of national reports, thematic studies, policy briefs and tools to assist with strategic planning.
While the study’s findings remain extremely useful in guiding forestry development, as soon as we published the study, changes and events began to overtake us. In the past year we have seen the re-emergence of a European financial crisis; we have seen an increasingly strong interest and drive towards the principles of green economy; we have moved from the disappointments of Copenhagen, to the brighter prospects of Cancun. We have seen and experienced significant change.
This is the context within which we’ve organized this “Journey to 2020; the future for forestry in Asia and the Pacific” plenary session. It provides an opportunity for us to take stock of changes since the publication of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study and to bring together the perspectives of a world class group of speakers on how the future is likely to unfold.
I’d like to very briefly take this opportunity, on behalf of FAO, to thank all our speakers for their generous contributions of their time and expertise in sharing these perspectives with us. And to acknowledge our collaborative partner, GIZ, for their contributions and support in the preparations for this plenary session.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are anticipating an outstanding session, which I personally am looking forward to with great anticipation. With these introductory remarks, I’d now like to hand over to our chair and moderator, Mr. Anders Lonnblad, Deputy Director–General, Ministry for Rural Affairs, Sweden – who is also currently serving as the Chair of FAO’s Committee on Forestry – to say a few words and introduce the first speaker.