At the request of the Yokohama City Council, ITTO’s Executive Director Emmanuel Ze Meka addressed the Council today in a specially convened session. Yokohama has hosted the ITTO headquarters since the Organization commenced operational activities in 1986. Mr. Ze Meka thanked the city and its residents for more than 20 years of support and urged the city to continue to back ITTO as it tackled new challenges to the sustainable management of tropical forests. He stressed that core issues addressed by ITTO such as climate change, poverty, illegal logging and biodiversity are all linked and that strategies to tackle them require the type of holistic approach embodied in the concept of sustainable forest management that ITTO has been promoting throughout its existence. He also focused on the importance of environmental education in tackling such problems and offered ITTO’s input to engaging with local children (possibly together with those from other countries to promote international understanding) about important issues facing tropical forests.
Mr. Ze Meka presented a plan for an ITTO-sponsored international conference on the role of sustainable management of tropical forests in mitigating climate change in Yokohama in the spring of 2008. Having just returned from COP 13 of the UNFCCC in Bali, Indonesia, he stressed the importance of this initiative for helping ITTO to formulate activities to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tropical forests. Mr. Ze Meka noted that further enhancing cooperation between ITTO and the city of Yokohama in areas such as public education and sustainable management of tropical forests would contribute to the battle against climate change, a problem with grave implications for humanity.
Mr. Ze Meka also congratulated the city of Yokohama for being selected to host the fourth international conference on African development (TICAD IV) in April 2008, an event which will also place the issue of climate change high on its agenda and in which ITTO will actively participate.