31.05.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector; UN News Centre; UN-REDD

Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Amazon, Congo, and Borneo-Mekong Forest Basins

© UN photo P. SudhakaranThe rain forest showing destruction of the canopy in the state of Acre in Western Brazil.

The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Amazon, Congo, and Borneo-Mekong Forest Basins held in Brazzaville, Congo from 31 May to 3 June will foster discussion among 35 nations covering the three major rainforest regions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and contribute to the sustainable management of forest ecosystems. Those efforts, in turn, would ensure a greater contribution to global climate regulation, poverty eradication and economic development efforts.

The Summit is backed by the United Nations and will count with UNESCO’s participation. Partners include 13 donor countries, multiple branches of the United Nations, the African Union, and the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), among others.

The Amazon Basin of South America, the Congo Basin in Central Africa, and the Borneo-Mekong Basin in South-East Asia make up 80 per cent of the world’s rainforests and contain two thirds of its biodiversity. Forest loss is accelerating at a rapid pace across much of the three basins, and forest degradation and destruction now account for 20 per cent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

UNESCO wishes to reinforce cooperation with its partners and to create synergies in the efforts to conserve biodiversity conservation and safeguard cultural diversity, notably through the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The network’s 56 biosphere Reserves in 16 countries in those three tropical forest basins provide a strong platform to promote the exchange of information and experience and to foster comparative analyses. MAB was instrumental in the conclusion of the agreement on South-South Network Cooperation for Sustainable Development in the Three Main Humid Tropical Regions of the World signed in Jeju, Republic of Korea, in 2009.

The World Heritage Convention has also proven to be an effective normative tool for the conservation of nature. Today, there are 38 World Heritage sites in the three basins, covering roughly 31 million Ha.

Henri Djombo, Minister of Sustainable Development, Forestry and Environment of the Republic of the Congo, said it is hoped that the summit will achieve “a treaty or an agreement” for the sustainable management of the ecosystems of the three regions.

The four-day meeting is also part of celebrations of the International Year of Forests (2011).

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