Exploring the benefits of a green economy in the Heart of Borneo
Entitled, “Sabah Heart of Borneo (HoB) Green Economic Development - Engaging Business for Environment”, the opening session highlighted the strong Malaysian government and institutional support for green economic development in the HoB.
The conference was opened by the Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Hj. Aman, who emphasized the importance of the green economic approach for meeting both development needs, as well as protecting bio-diversity and achieving sustainable use of Sabah’s forest reserves.
“This year we celebrate the international year of the forest with a focus on sustainable forest management under the impetus of a green economic approach,” he said.
“For Sabah this is not just talk we have many success stories of forests that are certified and have allowed us to continue to create jobs. Sabah is also involved in the Malua Biobank, a public/private partnership which shows some of the benefits that a green economic approach can provide in the Heart of Borneo,” he said.
Datuk Sam Mannan, Director of Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), underscored the State government’s support for the development of green economic thinking in Sabah, as well as the role of WWF and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in stimulating the debate around green economy issue.
“The green economy is all about development with social and economic links – for people, planet and profits,” he said. But green economy ideas must be economically feasible and bring returns above Business as Usual. “What is the use of having ideas if you do not have the money to carry those ideas out?” He asked the audience.
A direct response to this challenge was met with the announcement at the conference of two new initiatives to support Sabah’s development of a green economy. A new cooperation agreement signed with the Agency for Remote Sensing Malaysia, to support Sabah’s REDD+ program and a cheque from Cymao Plywood SDN BHD for RM200,000 to SFD for its Forest Conservation Fund.
Datuk Sam Mannan ended his address with a note to the future, highlighting the work of WWF and its plans to showcase the development of a Green Economy in the Heart of Borneo, at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil next year.
A green economy in the Heart of Borneo on the world stageUN Resident Coordinator for Malaysia & UNDP Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Mr Kamal Malhotra, commended the SFD on its focus on a green economy, particularly in the lead up to the Rio 20+ conference in June 2012, which would elevate these issues to the world stage.
He said whatever the definition you choose for a green economy, there is no doubt that applying green economy concepts such as improved energy efficiency and renewable energy production could provide employment and economic growth, while reducing pressures on natural resources.
“It can drive technological improvements and also provide mechanisms to help prevent the destruction of nature by highlighting the benefits we obtain from environmental services,” he said
Mr Malhotra concluded by highlighting the need for a roadmap for the development of a green economy to be prepared - not just for Sabah and the Heart of Borneo - but for all regions wishing to build a green economic future.
Adam Tomasek, Leader of WWF’s Heart of Borneo Initiative, said he was encouraged by the leadership of the Malaysian government to advance the understanding and the implementation of a green economy in the Heart of Borneo.
“Bringing scientific, business and investment leaders into the same room with policy makers is an example that must be replicated if the Rio+20 Summit is to be successful next year. WWF will continue to support the multi-stakeholder process to develop green growth initiatives that deliver lasting conservation and sustainable development in the Heart of Borneo,” he said.
The two day conference convened by the Sabah Forest Department and co-hosted by WWF and UNDP will attempt to demystify the green economy concept by:
• Gaining a common understanding of the real meaning of Green economy as against Business as Usual.
• Understanding the economic contribution of HoB’s natural capital to the State Development Agenda
• Sharing knowledge on green economy incentives and the policy mechanisms needed to encourage these activities.
• Map out a strategy, or road map, for a consolidated approach to realizing a green economy in the HoB landscape.
For more information on this conference contact: HoB Communications manager, Chris Greenwood