Economies in Greater Central Asia are close geographic neighbors with similar topography and natural conditions. Close cooperation moving forward is vital to sustainable economic and social development.
APFNet Executive Director Mr. Qu Guilin addresses participants at the first Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry in Greater Central Asia
At the opening remarks of the first Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry in Greater Central Asia (the Meeting), Mr. Qu Guilin, APFNet’s Executive Director, emphasized that “increased cooperation between China, Central Asian economies and Mongolia – the “New Silk Road” – will play a key role in facilitating sustainable social and economic development in the region.”
The Meeting took place from 30 to 31 May 2016 in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, and culminated in the adoption of the “Astana Declaration” (the Declaration).
The Declaration recognizes the important contribution of sustainable development and management of forests to social, economic and environmental development in the region. It also emphasizes the need for closer regional cooperation in the conservation, protection and reproduction of forests, and the mitigation of negative impacts of climate change, desertification and land degradation.
The Declaration agrees that cooperation in forestry in the Greater Central Asian region will focus on the following four areas:
1. Taking into account the policies and main activities in the field of forestry of the representatives of participating economies of the first meeting of ministers responsible for forestry.
2. Encouraging forest authorities of the participating economies to increase forest cover in the Greater Central Asia region and to reduce forest fires, forest pests and diseases, illegal logging, and desertification and degradation.
3. Promoting cross-border and regional cooperation, legislative development, joint programs and projects and research and development. The most promising areas for cooperation include:
• Mitigating the impact of climate change and decline in the health of forests
• Preventing cross-border forest fires
• Combating forest land degradation and desertification
• Promoting development of a regional forest monitoring system
• Promoting biological methods for forest protection
• Promoting development of sustainable forest plantations in desert areas
• Conservation and utilization of forest genetic resources
• Promoting development of methodologies for assessing the value of forest ecosystem services
• Promoting capacity building and training of forestry specialists
4. Ensuring effective regional and cross-border cooperation in the economies of Great Central Asia by:
• Organizing and maintaining interdepartmental relations
• Developing and coordinating mechanisms of interaction between the economies
• Preparing and organizing meetings/conferences for heads and experts of forestry authorities for discussion of major regional forestry issues
A new platform for forestry cooperation in Greater Central Asia
The Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry in Greater Central Asia is the only platform for dialogue and exchange on forestry in the region. This initial meeting marks the first time that forestry ministers in Greater Central Asia have gathered to discuss experiences and know-how.
The leaders of seven forestry bureaus and over 40 officials from China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia attended the meeting. The meeting is a joint-initiative of the State Forestry Administration of China and APFNet, and was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan.
First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry in Greater Central Asia
The conference aimed to strengthen commitment to forestry, identify opportunities for cooperation and promote the coordinated development of forestry in the region, in line with the “One Belt, One Road” initiative - a means of promoting closer financial, cultural and academic cooperation across Eurasia.
Ministers discussed the economics of forest development, forestry priorities and other important issues affecting forestry in the region. APFNet has singled out the Greater Central Asian region as one of its key areas of focus in its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan and will work closely with economies in the region to tailor activities to their specific needs and requirements.
The opening Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry in Greater Central Asia marked an important first step in promoting regional forestry cooperation. It was agreed that APFNet will organize the second Ministerial Meeting in 2018 to build upon the initial commitments made under the Astana Declaration.