Why we should support International Day of Forests and World Water Day

It is a busy weekend ahead on the environment calendar, with International Day of Forests on Saturday and World Water Day on Sunday. Although they don’t carry the hype of many other designated days throughout the year, they do provide a platform to raise awareness and debate the issues surrounding how we manage forest and water resources.

One third of the earth’s land mass is covered by forests. They play a vital role for the 1.6 billion people that inhabit them around the world, provide economic benefits to many industries and are a key force in the battle against climate change. Yet despite these benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

This year’s theme for International Day of Forests is “Forests and Climate Change”, highlighting forest-based solutions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more broadly forests and sustainable development.

For over two years, our affiliate Asia Pulp and Paper has been very much aligned with this theme and focused on working with governments and key stakeholders to combat deforestation. Since APP launched it Forest Conservation Policy in February 2013, the zero deforestation movement has become more global.

Late last year APP joined a number of governments, global businesses and NGOs in signing The New York Declaration on Forests – a commitment to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strive to end it by 2030. It marked watershed moment in the global effort to contain, then halt deforestation around the world. Let’s hope we can look back at it in the years to come as a milestone in forest protection.

With forest protection, also comes water management. Forests protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide. As a company that is water dependent, APP has an obligation to manage water responsibly. It was the first pulp and paper company in Indonesia to adopt the United Nations CEO Water Mandate, a global initiative to support sustainable water management principles and practices. Each year APP also celebrates World Water Day to help raise awareness of water resource issues.

Last year’s celebrations saw APP support the Community Waste Bank Program, which aims to address Jakarta’s chronic flooding problem by working with communities to collect, sell and recycle household waste. Flooding in Jakarta is caused in part by carelessly discarded waste material that blocks sewer systems and drains. APP’s goal was to show communities how employment and profit can be generated from this waste, thereby reducing pressure on the city’s drainage.

As APP continues to raise awareness for forest protection and water management, it is our hope that others will follow suit in creating innovative solutions to ensure the sustainable development of forest and water resources.