RAFT explores a key Summit theme – How to attract and secure large-scale investment of private capital in sustainable forestry projects in Asia Pacific?
If you’ve attended some of the big global and regional forestry events lately, you may have found yourself rubbing shoulders not only with the usual government officials, technical experts and forestry companies, but increasingly with bankers and financial analysts and advisers as well.
This was true of the Asia Pacific Rainforest Summit held from 3-5 August in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, where participation from private sector was strong, not only from the forestry sector, but from the financial world as well.
The event sought to capture the momentum of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals, and explore ways to realize the potential of forests in reaching these bold and necessary targets.
The Paris Agreement in particular, which urges countries to take action to conserve and enhance their forests, has widely been seen as a signal to global financial and energy markets of the need to shift investment away from sectors that have traditionally contributed to the problem of climate change, to low carbon sectors.
The forestry sector in Asia Pacific, where 500 million people depend directly on the forest, and many millions more indirectly through the production, sale and use of wood products, is one such sector. However, sustainable forestry projects in the region remain predominantly publicly funded, with very little private capital finding its way to the forest floor.
With the growing interest from the financial sector and recognition of the scale of investment needed to transition large and complex forestry sectors to a new, sustainable business model, there is clearly an opportunity as well as an imperative to direct more private capital towards sustainable forestry projects in the region.
But the multi-billion dollar question remains, how?
We talked to some of the experts and stakeholders who have been following this issue for some time, to get their take on both the obstacles and the actions needed to unlock large-scale financing for sustainable forestry in Asia Pacific.
Paul Tregidgo, Vice Chairman, Debt Capital Markets, Credit Suisse, on the role of private capital in funding sustainable forestry and how to get there.
Howard Bamsey, Honorary Professor, College of Asia Pacific, Australian National University, on the role of governments in unlocking large-scale financing for sustainable forestry.
Kushla Munro, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Government, on the role of events like the Asia Pacific Rainforest Summit in achieving sustainable forestry at a regional scale.