‘Obsolete’ market system to blame for deforestation, Papua New Guinea tells UN

27 September 2008
Deputy Prime Minister Puka Temu of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

The current global economic system is to fault for deforestation, Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Prime Minister told the General Assembly’s high-level debate today, stressing the need to protect the South Pacific nation’s rainforests from degredation.

The current global economic system is to fault for deforestation, Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Prime Minister told the General Assembly’s high-level debate today, stressing the need to protect the South Pacific nation’s rainforests from degredation.

“Deforestation is a complex subject, but – put simply – it is driven by the fact that the world values forests more dead than alive!” Puka Temu said. “Traditional economic theory – which considers ecosystem services a ‘common good’ and thus free to all – is primarily responsible for the massive loss of the world’s forests!”

Rural communities, which depend on and care for the forests, are forced to seek alternate ways of making a living, giving up opportunities to be gained from producing products such as timer, palm oil, coffee and cocoa, he said.

“The international commodity markets, in fact, have hardly changed from colonial times,” the official pointed out.

“The environment is devastated, rural communities stay poor, and the rich shift the blame,” he said.

Wealthier nations blame developing countries’ “lack of governance and corruption,” but Mr. Temu said that “symptoms of obsolete market constructs” are what in fact propel deforestration.

He called on world leaders to formulate a new economic theory and market system that allow for a sustainable future.

Roughly $20 billion will be needed annually to slash carbon emissions from deforestation by half. “But this would be a wise investment, even for this one ecosystem service alone,” the Deputy Prime Minister told the Assembly’s General Debate.

Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled a pioneering initiative aimed at combating climate change through creating incentives to reverse the trend of deforestation.

The UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Programme is designed to tip the fiscal balance in favour of sustainable management of forests, simultaneously bringing economic benefits to participating countries and contributing to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Initially nine countries – Bolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zambia – will receive assistance through the Programme to reduce the role deforestation plays in amassing greenhouse gases.

 

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