COP14: Leaders Discuss The Use Of Ecological Restoration As A Peace-Building Process

Kim Jae-Hyun in presence of UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thaiw launching Peace Forest Initiative at COP14. Photo by IISD/EN

Kim Jae-Hyun, Minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS) launched the Peace Forest Initiative, at
the ongoing 14th session of Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to
Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in India. It is designed to provide a practical platform that will
encourage international alliance by demonstrating the value of achieving land degradation
neutrality in cross-border and post-conflict situations.

Cooperative efforts on actions such as sustainable land management, forestry and land
rehabilitation can facilitate economic cooperation while supporting the achievement of
multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Kim said, “The initiative is in the early stages, and we are proposing it as a global initiative where actually all people living in border areas in many
countries can participate. We want to implement it in collaboration with UNCCD.”

Land rights expert says that this initiative could ultimately contribute to the alleviation of
political tension, reconciliation and can become a part of permanent peace-building processes
between two countries. This initiative would create more green jobs in the coming years.

Kim Jae-Hyun meets the press at UNCCD COP14. Photo by Tanmoy Bhaduri.

Kim discussed the future of Peace Forest Initiative with UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim
Thiaw last year at the first Global Land Degradation Neutrality Forum in Seoul, Korea. After the
Korean War, the whole of mountain areas surrounding the city, were deforested and degraded.
Since 1973, more than 10 billion trees were planted in Korea. It was possible through strong
leadership, people’s willingness and participation. Korea has signed MoU with 56 countries for
developing joint projects for restoration, research and knowledge sharing.

Kim further explained, “While we are looking at the ecosystem, they seem divided because of
borders, but the ecosystem is conducting as a whole. If we could restore the ecosystem in border
and conflict areas by the participation of local communities, we could contribute to ecosystem
restoration in higher magnitude. The Peace Park between Ecuador and Peru is the proof
that forestation brings peace, security and goodwill among two countries.”

The author is covering UNCCD COP 14 under Earth Journalism Network Media Fellowship.

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