MEDIA BACKGROUNDER: “International Conference on Rural Livelihoods, Forests and Biodiversity” May 19-23, Bonn

May 19 Kunst-Und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
May 20 – 23 Stadthalle Bad-Godesberg

BONN: 19 May 2003. The Vice-President of the World Bank, leading German Government representatives and over one hundred of the world’s forest experts and officials are meeting in Bonn, Germany, to put the future of the world’s tropical forests back on the global environmental agenda.

Despite increasing rates of deforestation, loss of forest biodiversity, and escalating rates of poverty among the world’s millions of forest-dependent communities, forests in recent years have received diminishing attention from the media and the general public.

David Kaimowitz, Director General of one of the event organizers, the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research, says the deteriorating state of the world’s forests receives less public attention now for a number of reasons.

"At the 1993 Earth Summit in Rio di Janeiro the loss of tropical forests was one of the key global environmental concerns. But people have now almost forgotten about forests. This is partly because of a sense of pessimism that nothing can be done to save the forests and partly because other environmental issues have become prominent," Kaimowitz said.

The "International Conference on Rural Livelihoods, Forests and Biodiversity" aims to refocus world attention on the importance of forests, highlighting the many ways in which they are important to the world’s environmental and economic prosperity and giving examples of successful forestry practices.

The conference will survey the current state of knowledge on forests and rural livelihoods, enhance public awareness about the global significance of forests, and identify concrete proposals for action. The results of the conference will be conveyed to the 4th United Nations Forum on Forests.

The conference features a series of days in which some 200 participants will examine how current knowledge and future research can best ensure forests help reduce poverty for millions of the world’s rural poor while maintaining their rich biodiversity.

Key speakers and presenters will include Erich Stather, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) , Ian Johnson, World Bank Senior Vice President, H.E. Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry, Republic of Congo, and David Kaimowitz.

Forests are inseparable from what UN Secretary General Kofi Anan has identified as the building blocks of international development: water, energy, health, agriculture and bio-diversity. Speakers at this week’s conference will touch on all of these issues in a series of discussions about forests, bio-diversity and livelihoods.

Forests provide a wide variety of goods for both trade and household use. These include timber, fuelwood, charcoal, rattan, game, fruit and medicinal herbs. Forests also provide people with a source of emergency sustenance during times of crop failure, conflict or natural disaster. Clearing forests for farming or timber harvesting may provide some short-term economic benefits, but often undermine long-term local livelihoods. At the same time, forest loss threatens biodiversity and the environmental services forests provide such as preventing global warming.

  • Fifty selected papers will be presented covering a range of forest themes:
  • Forests as safety-nets
  • Non-timber forest products, small-scale logging, and rural livelihoods
  • The contributions of plantations and agroforestry to rural livelihoods
  • Improving livelihoods and protecting biodiversity
  • Forest certification and rural livelihoods
  • International dimensions of forests and rural livelihoods
  • Community forestry and rural livelihoods

Key Media Events and Speakers

In addition to press conferences and events of interest to the media, forest experts from around the world will be available for interviews during the week. Please check the list of presenters and contact: Holger Baum 0172 651 9228 or Oliver Hanschke 0177 447 1032

Welcome and opening remarks 19 May 09:30 – 10:45

  • Erich Stather, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ)
  • Ulrich Hauschild, Mayor of Bonn
  • Ulrich Popp, Director General, InWEnt
  • Jagmohan Maini, Chair, Center for International Forestry Research
  • Pekka Patosaari, Head, United Nations Forum on Forests

Combating poverty and protecting the environment through international partnerships 19 May 10:45 – 11:00

  • Ian Johnson, Senior Vice President for Economically and Socially Sustainable Development of the World Bank and Chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

Press conference 19 May 11:00 – 11:45

  • Ian Johnson, David Kaimowitiz and Erich Stather will be available for questions from the media as well as present short statements on . . . . . . .

Forests for people and the environment: Why this conference? 11:45 – 12:00

  • David Kaimowitz, Director General, Center for International Forestry Research

Challenges and opportunities for forests in the Congo basin 12:00 – 12:30

  • H.E. Mr. Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry, Republic of Congo

Panel discussion 19 May 13:30 – 15:30
Reconciling conservation and development: Can it be achieved?

  • Moderator: Ranga Yogeshwar
  • Achim Steiner, Director General, IUCN
  • Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India
  • Claude Martin, Director General, WWF
  • Juan Mayr, Former Minister of Environment, Colombia
  • El Hadj Sène, Director, Forest Resources Division, FAO

Greenpeace side event 20 May 19:30 – 21:00

Panel discussion: Sustainable development in African forests to protect rural livelihoods: What are the impacts of illegal logging and conflict timber?

Closing Press Conference 24 May 10:00 – 10:45

Further information:

Holger Baum 0172 651 9228
Media Consultant
Oliver Hanschke 0177 447 1032
Beratungsgruppe Entwicklungsorientierte Agrarforschung (BEAF)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)

The organizers

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and InWEnt (Capacity Building International), in collaboration with Germany’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit’ (GTZ) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Other Sponsors

United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), Swedish International Biodiversity Programme (SWIBP), Centre Technique d’Agriculture et dévelopment rural (CTA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)