International Conference on Poverty Reduction and Forests: Tenure, Market and Policy Reforms

International Conference on Poverty Reduction and Forests: Tenure, Market and Policy Reforms

คำกล่าวเปิดงาน “International Conference on Poverty Reduction and Forests: Tenure, Market and Policy Reforms” วันที่ 4 กันยายน 2550 ณ โรงแรมอิมพีเรียล ควีนส์ ปาร์ค

Inaugural Speech

International Conference on Poverty Reduction and Forests:

Tenure, Market and Policy Reforms

4 September 2007 Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand


Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to welcome all of you to Thailand for this important conference. I am very pleased to have been invited to open the conference.

I am especially pleased because this conference is relevant to a number of themes and issues which have been of professional and personal concern to me for many years. These themes include the importance of social development, human security, rights and participatory development.

The connection between sustainable use of natural resources, including forests, and poverty reduction is important. We know that forests are crucial to the livelihood security of many poor people who live in and around them and that they can also provide increased income. We also know that, in many cases, the potential of forests to provide these benefits has not been met. It is clear that achieving the potential of forests for poverty reduction requires secure access and supportive legislation. This conference is concerned with achieving that potential.

In Thailand there has been debate for many years about a Community Forestry Bill that many of us hope will contribute to assuring secure access. I strongly hope that the Bill will be passed this year or not too long after the next general election. I also hope that it will provide clear access rights for forest dwelling people and, at the same time, ensure sustainable use of forests.

A challenge for the discussions which will occur at this conference, is to put terms like “poverty reduction” in a wider context, and to remember that poverty reduction is not only about increased income. Poverty needs to be understood in a more holistic way than a mere lack of income, although it is about that too.

While the World Bank has used the idea of an absolute poverty line of one dollar a day to stress the urgency of the global need to address poverty, it has also developed the idea that poverty can be thought of as having three dimensions. These are lack of assets, lack of security and lack of power. If we accept this concept of poverty, then addressing poverty requires addressing all of these dimensions, not just the more obvious one which is a lack of assets.

It would be a shame if we forget the importance of livelihood security and empowerment in our discussions over the next few days. It is particularly important to recognise the need to empower individual people and communities and especially to empower them to define the sort of development they need rather than having development defined by others. People must be involved in the planning process. In opening this conference I would like to challenge the participants to consider the roles of communities, civil society and the private sector as well as governments, in developing linkages between forests and poverty reduction.

I would like to thank RECOFTC, the partners of the Rights and Resources Initiative and the various donors who have supported this conference, for making it possible.

I would like to welcome all the many participants from many countries in Asia and all of the other inhabited continents to Thailand. I hope that you all enjoy your stay here and I am sure there will be many fruitful discussions and that the conference will contribute to the aims we all share.

Finally, I have great pleasure in declaring the conference open.

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