There are three types of crisis that have drastically changed the global business scene and have had a great impact on the traditional business activity of companies worldwide: economic recession, the collapse of trust in companies and the acceleration of climate change.

“We are the first generation that can destroy the planet as a result of the generation of greenhouse gases, and the first that can end poverty by year 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” were the words that opened the event and kicked off the discussion in all the panels.

Within this context, the session “Building Climate Action from Ecosystems” was held on September 29 in order to explore the opportunities forests offer in terms of sustainable development to achieve SDG 13 and SDG 15. During the session, the need to adopt urgent measures to fight climate change and its effects was stressed.

Currently, 30% of the planet’s surface is covered by forests, which, in addition to securing food and refuge, are fundamental in fighting climate change, since they protect biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. Each year 13 million hectares of forest disappear, and the persistent degradation of arid areas has caused the desertification of 3.600 million hectares.

Deforestation and desertification –caused by human activities and climate change– stand as great challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and means of livelihood of millions of people who are fighting poverty. Therefore, measures are being taken to address the issues of forest management and the combat against desertification, many of which were shared at the panel consisting of renowned specialists from the public, private and international cooperation sectors.

The thematic round-table was organized by the Andean Forests Program, Conservación Internacional and CELEPSA. Here is a brief summary of the panel, with the highlights of each presentation.

Marc Dourojeanni, renowned international forest expert focused on the potential forests have to promote sustainable businesses within the context of climate change. He stressed the fact that protected natural areas are an excellent option to generate sustainable businesses while acting for climate change and protecting forests at the same time. He concluded by encouraging companies to bet on forests, since they also offer economic benefits. “It is possible to save the world while making money”, he pointed out.

Martin Jaggi, director of cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) highlighted that the Sustainable Development Goals are an opportunity for international cooperation and the private sector to make great and innovative alliances in order to foster investment that contributes to development. “It is important to emphasize that the private sector has always been a driver of growth and prosperity, and it now faces the challenge to create value looking to the future”, he noted.

Gustavo Suárez de Freitas, executive coordinator of the Forests Program of the Ministry of the Environment of Peru said that to attain sustainable forest management it is necessary to reduce the pressure on forests and increase their value in order to justify their conservation in economic terms.

He added that the government is now creating the right conditions to invest in forests, but that there is still a need to promote alliances between the public and private sectors regarding conservation and sustainable exploitation. “The conservation of forests has to be inclusive, productive and sustainable”, he pointed out.

Oscar López, representative in Peru of the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung Foundation, emphasized the need to support producers so that they can develop entrepreneurial skills that will allow them to face the challenges of the market successfully.

He noted that it is vital to provide technical support to small producers in order to help them increase the value of their businesses. “We have to focus on enhancing the competitiveness of small producers for them to be able to produce more and better”, he underlined.

Carlos Mario Méndez, environmental and social manager, projects and engineering for EPM Group from Colombia, stated that the great challenge the countries of the Andean region face is to overcome poverty, and that forests offer a great opportunity to do it. Nevertheless, he added that “it is necessary to create favorable conditions for the private sector to join the fight against climate change and bet on forests.”

At the end of the session, Carlos Adrianzén, representative of CELEPSA, agreed that there is a need to foster the engagement of the private sector in the effort towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by working jointly with the public sector. He invited companies to address climate action within their value chain and to take advantage of the opportunities forests have to offer.

The Andean Forests program is an initiative supported by the Global Program Climate Change of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in partnership with Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and CONDESAN.

For photos of the event, click here.
Useful links:
Web Andean Forests Program
Video Andean Forests Program




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La Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (COSUDE) es la entidad encargada de la cooperación internacional dentro del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores (DFAE). Con otras oficinas de la Confederación, la COSUDE es responsable de la coordinación general de la cooperación para el desarrollo y de la cooperación con los Países del Este, así como de los programas de ayuda humanitaria suizos.