A four-day summit, to be held in the Republic of Congo next month, is to focus on the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the world's three major rainforest regions, UN officials said here Wednesday.
The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Amazon, Congo, and Borneo-Mekong Forest Basins is expected to attract top officials from more than 35 countries covering the three basins to discuss the common challenges faced by these vital ecosystems that support more than a billion people.
The UN-backed summit, slated to be held in Congo's capital of Brazzaville, will kick off on May 31, and it is also part of celebrations of the International Year of Forests (2011), the officials said.
The Amazon Basin of South America, the Congo Basis in Central Africa, and the Borneo-Mekong Basin in South-East Asia make up 80 percent of the world's rainforests and contain two thirds of its biodiversity.
Forest loss is accelerating at a rapid pace across much of the three basins, and forest degradation and destruction now account for 20 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
"Every one of us, all seven billion people on Earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to the health of our forest ecosystems," Jan McAlpine, director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, said at a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York. "Throughout Forests 2011, we will celebrate this intricate, interdependent relationship between forests and people."
McAlpine said that the discussions and outcomes of the summit will also feed into the preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.
Also addressing the briefing, Henri Djombo, the minister of sustainable development, forestry and environment of the Republic of Congo, said it was hoped that the summit will achieve "a treaty or an agreement" for the sustainable management of the ecosystems of the three regions.