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Opening Remarks by Angela Cropper, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme on 'The Role of Tropical Forests in combating climate change: a new role for the UN'

Oslo, 18 June 2009 - I am honoured to be invited to take part in this 20th anniversary celebratory conference of the Rainforest Foundation in Norway. I congratulate its founders and associates for that progressive, forward-looking and exemplary step that you took so long ago to examine issues relating to tropical forests of the world. I also would like to congratulate its 55 current partners from developing countries who have pooled their efforts together with the Foundation.

Thank you to Trudie Styler for your moving opening remarks - and Ellen for your stewardship of the Foundation.

The Norwegian Foundation has sustained the effort for the protection of tropical forests for 20 years, and contributed to bringing the significance of forests for humankind for attention and action by policy makers, including your own government. And it is clear that its significance goes way beyond its capacity to store carbon.

Obviously the value of forests is different for different societies or groups who benefit from forests, and the particular ways in which they benefit. This is explained conceptually in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report, which advanced our understanding about the role of ecosystems for human well-being by putting into the literature the categories of services or benefits derived from them namely, provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services. There are complex connections among these categories, and the relative value we place on forests is influenced by the economic, ecological and cultural contexts in which forests occur.

But I believe that there is increasing commonality across societies in acknowledging the way in which forests contribute to the driving forces of climate change, the way in which forests are likely to be impacted by the force of climate change, and their potential for contributing to its mitigation. Even though there may not yet be agreement about how precisely we should respond to this complex relationship.



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