“Happy Fifth Birthday, UN-REDD!” - Celebratory Toasts on the Programme’s Fifth Anniversary
The UN-REDD Programme celebrated its Fifth Anniversary on Wednesday September 25th, 2013 with over 200 representatives of country representatives, delegates, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations, and supporters, at a reception on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York City.
The packed reception was an opportunity to toast the pioneering progress of UN-REDD partner countries and FAO, UNDP and UNEP “Delivering as One” in the five years since the Programme was unveiled on 24 September 2008 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg.
Attending the event were delegates from a wide range of countries, with representatives from Australia, Belgium, France, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, United States and Zambia. Also at the reception were prominent figures from the civil society and government sectors, including Paula Caballero, Director of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs at Colombia’s Ministry of International Affairs, and Minister Kuntoro Mangkusubroto of Indonesia.
Throughout the evening, Norway was duly recognized for its leadership on REDD+. Norway’s Minister of Environment, Bård Vegar Solhjell, toasted the Programme and confirmed Norway’s commitment to UN-REDD. He invited other donors to align together in the responsibility to address deforestation.
UN Assistant Secretary General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning, Bob Orr and UNDP Assistant Secretary General, Olav Kjorven, spoke next, reflecting on the life of the Programme and congratulating the agency staff members who have played a role in its success, with Mr. Orr saying: “You’re doing us proud.” Mr. Orr congratulated UN-REDD in particular on its collaborative model, which is reflected in the Programme’s governance structure.
The important linkages between REDD+ and addressing poverty were emphasized by Minister Kuntoro Mangkusubroto of Indonesia. “Fighting deforestation,” he said, “is only one part of a much larger battle on poverty reduction.”
Vicky Tauli-Corpus, Founder and Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation and former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, congratulated UN-REDD on the strong role it has played in raising the visibility of indigenous peoples in the climate change and forests arenas over the last five years. She identified the emergence of UN-REDD as a key to advancing the participation of indigenous peoples in climate change discussions.
Kevin Conrad, the Ambassador for Environment and Climate Change of Papua New Guinea, spoke of the global paradigm shift that REDD+ represents and reflected on the role of the UN and the need to refresh thinking in order to achieve change. Conrad urged that, “The age of renewables must dominate before the last of our forests disappear, before the sun burns out, and before the winds die away forever.”
Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, emphasized that the imperative must be to implement, and to do so at scale.
|After just five years, REDD+ is already addressing many real problems, he said, but these past five years are just the first steps on a long journey.
The evening was closed by Peter Seligmann, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Conservation International, whose inspiring and moving toast acknowledged the complexity of REDD+, and challenged countries and people to reassess our relationships with water food, air and land.
A repeating theme throughout the evening was the critical importance of REDD+ in international climate change efforts, as well as the importance of ensuring that REDD+ contributes not only to climate change mitigation, but to poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Overall, the event was celebratory and forward-looking, and a successful celebration of five years of achievements under the UN-REDD Programme.