ANNEX 6 OPENING SESSION WELCOME REMARKS
H.E MRS ANN OLLESTAD, AMBASSADOR OF NORWAY TO THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNION OF MYNANMAR
FOURTH GEGG FORUM, 3 FEBRUARY 2015, NAY PYI TAW
President of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar, U Thein Sein, Union Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am honored and proud to stand before you at the fourth Green Economy Green Growth Forum. The theme of this year’s GEGG forum is timely. We live in a globalized world, where regional cooperation and integration is paramount. Climate change is a global concern and cross-border and regional cooperation is essential for sustainable solutions. The fourth GEGG Forum provides an important arena for raising awareness on environmental and climate concerns, promoting the application of scientific and technical solutions to implement sustainable practices, and fostering cooperation with regional and international partners.
Myanmar is a country in a unique position: it can learn from the mistakes of other countries and choose to bring the country on a green development path. It can leapfrog technology and make larger investments in green growth and renewable energy than other countries have done. This, however, is not an easy task. Based on experiences from my own country, and from other countries in Europe, I know how difficult it can be to create a broad political consensus on the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and invest in green solutions. This is a challenge. At the same time, Myanmar is strategically located in a region where energy is becoming a scarce resource. Expanding cooperation and deepening regional integration for sustainable natural resources will become increasingly important in the years to come.
I recently had the privilege to visit the Naga Hills in the North-Western corner of Myanmar, one of the most remote areas of this beautiful country. The purpose of the trip was to visit Norwegian-funded community projects aimed to raise awareness about the link between deforestation and climate change. Travelling through the region, I witnessed the large scars of deforestation in these landscapes. The causes of deforestation and other types of environmental degradation are comprehensive. They require a holistic and integrated solution, where theory is put into practice and scientific solutions applied. Raising awareness is an important first step to promoting sustainable management of natural resources. There is much to learn from regional experiences in this area.
Norway has been a strong supporter of the Green Economy Green Growth Myanmar (not for profit) Association since the first GEGG Forum in 2011. I have been very encouraged to witness how, year by year, the GEGG Forums have become an increasingly influential arena for policy discussions on green growth. This year, the GEGG Forum is a four-day event, taking place in two cities, touching upon a wide variety of topics, ranging from agriculture and livestock/fisheries, environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure, capacity building for climate change related financial mechanisms, renewable energy and responsible tourism.
In December 2014, the GEGG Center of Excellence for Greening and the ASEAN Institute for Green Economy were launched by his Majesty King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway. These initiatives provide an important platform for promoting practices of green growth, and may serve as a regional hub for cooperation on these issues.
I look forward to fruitful discussions at today’s forum.