MARRAKECH – Fantastic — that’s how Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar described Malaysia’s participation at the marathon United Nations conference on climate change that ended here Thursday.
For two weeks, thousands of delegates from some 190 countries have been converging in this historical Morrocan city which put up excellent conference facilities to the surprise of many and they were joined by kings, heads of state and government and ministers in charge of environment in the final week.
All came with the consensus of thrashing out ways and modalities to implement the epic Paris Agreement they endorsed in the French capital last year to tackle the looming threat of global warming.
In the words of Wan Junaidi, Malaysia’s contributions to the conference were significant and counterparts from several countries he met here acknowledged the country’s frontline role in presenting a summary report on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests or better known by its UN jargon, REDD+.
“We received congratulations from delegates and UN Representative Mr Donald Cooper who said Malaysia is now in the forefront of getting some funds from donor countries to mitigate the effects of deforestation,” he told Bernama here before leaving for Rabat enroute home.
“We are now looking for a small amount from the Climate Fund under the Paris Agreement in managing our forests. We need the funds,” he said, referring to some US$100 billion which donor countries, especially developed nations, have pledged up to 2020.
He was particularly pleased with the performance of officials from his ministry and other agencies putting up for the first time the Malaysia Pavilion to showcase Malaysia’s climate conservation programmes which he said was a hit with participants from many countries.
“In past conferences, we did not have a pavilion of our own and had to squat and be at the whims and fancies of other participating countries,” he said.
Wan Junaidi said that in the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership Roundtable chaired by Australia here, several Pacific-rim countries like Fiji and Vanuatu told him they were keen to learn from Malaysia’s sustainable forest management.
“It’s an understatement to say that we are doing well in terms of managing emission reduction and forest management matters. Malaysia also made strong statements on food security that’s being threatened by climate change and in getting international banks like the Islamic Development Bank to get involved in the Crop for the Future Programme,” he added.
Explaining the programme, the minister said food security-wise, Malaysians were taking too much for granted and everyone must be aware of the impact of climate change on food security as a whole and must be prepared for such an eventuality.
Among suggestions made were that the Crop for the Future could be implemented in even small pieces of abandoned or under-utilised land, which did not necessitate the special alienation of land but merely to utilise such land to plant crops.
“I am very impressed with what I saw in South Korea and Japan. For example, one such project done by Hyundai where on the fringe you can see people planting rice. I am seriously thinking of starting one where we bring together departments under my ministry and state governments to undertake such initiative,” said Wan Junaidi.
He said more research ought to be done on turdy and resilient crops that could be grown even on very arid conditions that didn’t require much water.
Wan Junaidi said he was also trying to get more states in Malaysia that had been carrying out logging for economic reasons to move away from this activity to boost forest conservation efforts and, in the larger picture, tackle global warming.
On this score, he said, the policy change initiated by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem in the two years since he took over was “most pleasing news”.
Adenan had announced that no more new timber concession licences would be granted under his administration and, equally significant, no more land is to be given out for new plantations.
The new policy, instead, called for increased productivity from existing licences and, if present operators did not comply with rules and methods of managing their logging areas and plantation land, their licences would be withdrawn.
And Wan Junaidi came out with this bold statement to sum up the economics of the logging industry: “Actually most states in Malaysia are doing a lot of logging even though the states themselves are not really getting a lot of revenue from logging but it gives a lot of financial returns only to the logging companies themselves”. – BERNAMA