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Top experts to convene in Forests Indonesia conference in September

Leading international and national experts on forests and their roles in supporting the economy and mitigating climate change will convene in Jakarta on 27 September 2011 to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by Indonesia in the sustainable use of this valuable resource.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), with the support of businesses, NGOs, related ministries, embassies, and international organizations, will hold the conference entitled Forests Indonesia: Alternative futures to meet demands for food, fibre, fuel and REDD+. The expected list of 39 speakers, panelists and moderators include Andrew Steer, Special Envoy on Climate Change at the World Bank, Indonesia's Minister of Forestry, H.E. Zulkifli Hasan, Head of President's Unit for Development Control and Monitoring (UKP4), H.E. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, and Mr. Nana Suparna from the Indonesian Forest Concession Holders Association. They will present their views on how the country can manage its forests in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

"More and more people realize that current land-use patterns in Indonesia are unsustainable, and that it is in the country's best interest to assess alternative options for meeting various national objectives that are currently on a collision course," said Frances Seymour, Director General of CIFOR. "We need an open and honest discussion of the interests and concerns of each stakeholder group regarding the transition into a green economy."

Indonesia is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, with the majority of emissions produced by the forestry sector. International institutions, governments and scientists have agreed that financing schemes under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and enhancing carbon stocks, or REDD+, hold the greatest promise for combating climate change in the short term. Against this backdrop, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged to reduce emissions by 26% from business-as-usual levels by 2020 and by 41% if assisted with outside funding.

However, with the economy set to grow by 7% a year and faced with increasing pressure from agricultural, mining, pulp and paper and other industries to expand their markets, concerns are growing that the President's aspirations will be severely undermined. The recent decision by the Indonesian government to impose a two-year moratorium on forest clearing concessions has been met with skepticism by some members of the business community. In particular, business leaders complain that the moratorium lacks clarity, particularly when combined with conflicting land use policies and regulations, overlapping concessions, and unresolved conflicts. Environmentalists say the current plans will be insufficient to meet emission reduction targets.

At the same time, a growing number of Indonesian businesses are recognizing that a low carbon economy, which includes the sustainable management of resources and addressing the environmental and social concerns of global markets and investors, could be a viable and profitable alternative to the business-as-usual model. Others are waiting for incentives or proof that this model could provide new business opportunities.

Forests Indonesia conference, to be held at Shangri-La hotel in Jakarta on 27 September 2011, will feature agenda-setting keynote speakers and a series of engaging discussion forums for more than 800 key stakeholders in forests under two themes:

• Trade and investment: Implications for forests
• REDD+ in transition to a low-carbon future.

Registration is free through www.ForestsIndonesia.org and simultaneous translation of the addresses and discussions into Indonesian and English will be provided. For the conference's program, complete list of speakers and other information, visit the website or write to CIFOR-ForestsIndonesia@cgiar.org.