Korea, ASEAN forest cooperation: hope for 600 mil. people

The leaders of Indonesia and Cambodia have stressed the need for cooperation between Korea and ASEAN on the forestry sector at the 2014 Special ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting on Forestry, held on December 11 in Busan.

“The two countries [Korea and Indonesia] commenced cooperation on the forestry sector in 1968. Back then, Korea was one of the first countries to invest in the forestry industry in Indonesia,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo in the keynote speech.

“I hope that Korea and ASEAN will continue to strengthen and emphasize mutual cooperation as they move toward a system of sustainable forest management for the prosperity of the people,” the Indonesian leader stressed.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen remarked that, “Covering 50 percent of the land area of the ten ASEAN states, forests are a key resource in the region’s development, are needed in the global efforts to deal with climate change and are part of the people`s food supply.”

“I hope that Korea and ASEAN will keep working together on the forestry sector, with the help of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCo). Such cooperation will definitely give hope to ASEAN’s 600 million people,” the Cambodian prime minister said.

The forest ministerial meeting was held on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit held in the port city of Busan on December 11 and 12.

Those in attendance at the conference included forest ministers and vice ministers from Korea and the ten ASEAN states, as well as Executive Director of the AFoCo Hadi Susanto Pasaribu and Secretary General Le Luong Minh of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Forest ministers, vice ministers and other participants listen as Indonesian President Joko Widodo gives a speech during the 2014 Special ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting on Forestry in Busan on December 11.

The forest experts vowed to focus their efforts on increasing forestry cooperation and activities, as well as on dealing with issues involving the forestry sector more effectively.

They also agreed to work together constantly to effectively carry out items agreed upon in the 2012 AFoCo Agreement. The agreement stipulates that Korea and ASEAN should share knowledge and expertise on how to realize low-carbon green growth and how to handle threatening climate change across the regions. In the treaty, the ASEAN states also agreed to have countries of Southwest, Northeast and Central Asia join their efforts by 2016, efforts for sustainable forest management and more effective handling of climate change effects.

The meeting wrapped up with the adoption of an ASEAN-Korea Forest Ministers’ joint communiqué. The joint statement focused on ASEAN countries’ joint response to future forest disasters and on the expansion of the AFoCo.

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