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Korea advocates for forests for peace, launches ‘Peace Forest Initiative’

Korea advocates for forests for peace, launches ‘Peace Forest Initiative’
September 13
13:14 2019

Nivedita Khandekar

New Delhi: At a time when conflicts, climate change and natural disasters are wreaking havoc for the humanity, South Korea is banking on forests to restore not just land but also peace between any two conflicting countries.

Launching the ‘Peace Forest Initiative’ on the sidelines of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at Greater Noida near here, Jae-hyun Kim, Minister for the Korean Forest Service (KFS) said, “The land was divided because of the border but actually the ecosystem was the same.”

The PFI, he said, is not restricted to his country and their neighbour – the two nations have been in conflict for over half a century – but for all countries that have a border conflict. “Peru and Ecuador have shown interest. We have not yet spoken with North Korea, but we would definitely be interested in developing forests in our De-militarised zone (DMZ),” he told reporters immediately after launching the PFIon September 10.

For now, this is only in the realm of discussion and ideas but with the official launch, Kim hopes that there would be clarity on lot of issues, including finance, once things get rolling.

The idea is to build trust and peace for restoration of the land degraded due to conflict with the help of local community; this will also generate jobs and while the two neighbours discuss how to restore land, there will be efforts at bringing peace between them too, he said.

The initiative is designed to provide a practical platform that will foster international collaboration by demonstrating the value of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN, SGD target 15.3) in cross-border post-conflict situations. Cooperative efforts on actions such as sustainable land management, forestry and land rehabilitation can facilitate economic cooperation, while supporting the achievement of multiple SDG targets.

“The Peace Forest Initiative could ultimately contribute to the alleviation of political tension, reconciliation and can become a part of permanent peace building processes. COP14 will provide an opportunity for relevant and like-minded stakeholders to discuss the future initiative as a way to deliver common sustainable development goals (SDGs),” official sources at the UNCCD said.

LDN is defined as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems” by the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the UN, had lent his support to the initiative when it was discussed at the Global LDN Forum, co-hosted by the Korea Forest Service (KFS) and the UNCCD in Seoul, Korea. “With growing pressures on our lands, we – as both the caretakers and offenders of our planet – need to prevent future losses in social, natural and economic capital through the development and implementation of land degradation neutrality,” Moon had said.

Earlier in July last week, the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw had visited the Republic of Korea to discuss the ‘Peace Forest Initiative’ with the Minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS) Kim Jae-Hyun as well as representatives of international organizations and diplomatic missions in Seoul.

ENDS

Nivedita Khandekar is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental and developmental issues. She can be reached at nivedita_him@rediffmail.com or follow her on twitter at @nivedita_Him

Image Courtesy : https://www.unccd.int

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