When I am writing this the Rio Olympics closed just a few days ago, and congratulations, all ENPI-FLEG countries won medals in the Games. In sports the final outcome is decided during the final moments of the event, on the home stretch. In the ENPI-FLEG Program we are entering the home stretch of the journey that began in 2008. During these years we have successfully implemented activities in all seven countries as well as regionally. We have reached thousands of people who care about forests and value their contribution to our environment and societies. In all reviews and discussions with stakeholders the Program has been well received and its contribution to the forest governance agenda is well recognized.
But just like in sports, it is essential that we focus on the task at hand all the way to the finish line and beyond. It is clear that forests and their management challenges do not disappear when the Program is over. I trust that we have built a solid momentum towards our shared goals and we have mainstreamed the key FLEG principles in forest management. Issues like transparency, participation, legality and good governance have become part of the everyday lexicon in forest work and their importance is no longer challenged. Forestry is definitely more than only growing trees.
All participating countries are organizing wrap-up meetings and workshops in the coming months. These events are good opportunities to reflect the work done and what has been achieved. I hope that this is not the only thing that will be discussed. It is equally important to plan ahead and think how should we continue; how to build on the successes of ENPI-FLEG. The operating environment has changed tremendously in the past eight years. For one, it is widely recognized that governance matters and can be improved; climate change is increasingly recognized as – literally – a matter of life and death for our planet. At the same time, new ways to solve forest problems have emerged and, for example, mobile technology provides us with tools we could only dream about when St. Petersburg Declaration was signed over 10 years ago.
Just like any good athlete, we have to keep our eyes on the ball until the final whistle and then continue practicing; it is not over yet and the home stretch is actually only an interim milestone.
World Bank Co-Task Team Leader