FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

European countries aim for ‘Green Economy,’ reducing deforestation

Greening the economy and improving air quality for a better environment and human health were two main themes of the Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, held 8-10 June in Batumi, Georgia. Participating countries also emphasized agriculture, forest management, water and food as key focus issues contributing to a “Green Economy.”

The Conference provided a platform for all countries to identify urgent environmental issues, set priority directions and plan concerted efforts to promote sustainable development in the pan-European region.

The Conference endorsed a Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy in the pan-European region. The Framework equips countries with a common vision and outlines broad objectives for reducing environmental risks and contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Addressing the Conference, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia Raimund Jehle underscored the importance of Climate-Smart Agriculture – a concept introduced by FAO in 2010 that has been well received by governments, regional and international agencies, the private sector and civil society.

“Climate-Smart Agriculture includes actions on-farm and beyond the farm and incorporates policies, institutions, technologies and investments,” said Jehle. “This concept and its contribution to a Green Economy constitute an important approach to supporting countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Climate-Smart Agriculture takes an integrated approach, supporting countries and other players as they work to improve agricultural productivity and incomes, while building the resilience of agriculture to climate change. It can also reduce negative impacts of agriculture on the environment, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Dwindling forest cover and illegal logging also received attention at the Ministerial Conference. At a side event organised by the UNECE-FAO Forestry and Timber Section, the Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy was presented as a policy tool for the forest sector launched in 2013. The action plan – prepared jointly by governments, academia, industrial associations and NGOs – lists possible actions for various actors in the forest sector.

Reducing forest cover and illegal logging cause serious threat to the forests in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Aiming to support countries in this region the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section has been working on the ”Sustainable Management of Forest for Greener Economies in the Caucasus and Central Asia” project aimed to provide a long term vision for forest sector. The project was presented at the conference side event, showing the outcomes and results achieved in the regions.

One of the countries showing example by taking the first steps to implement the forest sector action plan for a green economy in forestry training and education - was Georgia. Lessons learned in this field were presented at the event by the delegate Karl Amirgulashvili, Head of Forest Policy Service of the Ministry of Environment of Georgia. He highlighted the main activities being conducted under the forest sector reform and expressed the will to contribute to the green economy and creation of green jobs in the country.

“We strongly believe of the UNECE and FAO experience and the initiatives to be greatly supportive, and as continued cooperation which could be capacity development projects aiming through training and policy advisory services to assist Georgia and other countries in the region develop and implement context specific strategies and actions to more fully harness the potential of sustainable forest management for green economies,” Amirgulashvili said.

Nearly 800 official delegates representing member States of the UNECE, organisations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organisations, Regional Environment Centres, non-governmental organisations, the business sector, media and representatives of the civil society attended the Conference.

30 June 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia