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In their view
An Interview with Eva Mueller*
*Director, Forest economics, policy and products
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Q: How can the wood industry foster sustainable development in the Congo Basin countries?
Eva Mueller: The international community recognizes the immense value of tropical forest resources in the Congo Basin. Over the past years, a number of instruments have been introduced in order to make the way forest industries operate in tropical forests more sustainable. It is crucial that the wood industry continues improving their modus operandi to foster sustainable development. This way, the population living in and outside tropical forests will have better livelihood opportunities.
A well maintained forest becomes an important source of employment. In fact, tropical forests are already the second largest source of employment in Gabon and the Central African Republic. A well managed forest also contributes to social development, giving the population the means to an education, food and health.
Q: What makes this Forum different from other meetings in the Congo Basin?
Eva Mueller: Between 2010 and 2011, FAO, ITTO and ATIBT organized a series of workshops in four countries of the Congo Basin.
Held in collaboration with the host governments, the workshops outlined what is needed to make the wood industry more
and international organizations.
Together, they will identify concrete actions for attracting more investment to the forestry sector as well as adding more value to wood resources at the national level.
Q: What can be FAO’s contribution to the Brazzaville Forum?
Eva Mueller: As the specialised food agency of the United Nations, FAO is committed to fighting hunger worldwide and maintaining the natural resource base required for food security.
FAO cannot but encourage sustainable sustainable actions in the Congo Basin, and stands for facilitating inter-agency cooperation and cooperation with major stakeholders.
For example, the numerous activities carried out under the EU / FAO / FLEGT programme assisting countries in the Congo Basin to implement governance efforts, can be strengthened with the political will that the Forum is expected to reinforce. Better governance attracts more investment; more investment adds more value to wood resources; added value increases labour demand; more labour demand increases job opportunities allowing local populations to have access to a greener and brighter future.
sustainable: a strong political will, good governance, certification, responsible forest management. The ensuing recommendations have now been summarized in a White Paper (Livre blanc), which is going to be launched at the Brazzaville Forum. The White Paper is a first attempt to assess the ‘State of the wood industry’.
Even though there is still little concrete data available it can be used as a sort of baseline for reviewing progress in addressing
the challenges facing the sector.
For regional institutions such as COMIFAC, the White Paper might help advance the implementation of previous commitments, including the Convergence Plan.
Another important feature of the Forum is that it provides ample room for discussion and enables dialogue among forest industry managers, representatives of government institutions, civil society organizations, small scale enterprises, development agencies
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