Minister Podgoršek at the Third Ministerial Conference of the Forestry Cooperation Mechanism between China and Central and Eastern European Countries
In his opening speech to the conference, Minister Jože Podgoršek greeted all ministers, heads of delegation and conference participants. He said that five years have passed since the establishment of the Forestry Mechanism 17 + 1 and that “Slovenia attaches great importance to cooperation in forestry and beyond in the whole community of the initiative 17 +1 and remains committed to working closely with all partners. initiative to meet our common interests and achieve major goals. ”He stressed:“ Together we have achieved a number of important results in the field of cooperation in scientific research and education and in the area of business and investment opportunities throughout the forest-timber chain. Yet our task within the partnership remains the same – to find the best possible solutions – not only in terms of funding scientific projects and common research, but also for business and investment opportunities and the rise of new start-ups in the field of forestry and forest-wood sectors. “
Ministers then discussed the role of forests and the forest industry in the bioeconomy, particularly in light of the challenges of achieving sustainable development and addressing climate change. They also discussed cooperation opportunities between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the field of forest bioeconomy.
Mr Podgoršek presented Slovenia as a country rich in forests, saying that 60% of its territory is covered by forests. “In Slovenia, we follow the principles of close to nature and sustainable forest management, which is reflected in stable and biologically diverse forests. We pay great attention to the protective, biotic and hydrological functions of the forest. Because of these roles, forests are of great importance in mitigating the effects of climate change. In addition, forests are also an important sink for carbon dioxide. Slovenian forests thus contribute significantly to the preservation of biodiversity, employment and income of rural communities ”, added the Minister.
Considering natural conditions, woody biomass is the most common raw material in Slovenia. Its accessibility and availability are crucial for the transition to the bioeconomy, which is one of the strategic development priorities in Slovenia. The bioeconomy is linked to the sustainable development goals of major national documents, such as the Vision for Slovenia 2050, the Slovenian Development Strategy 2030 and the Smart specialization strategy.
Minister Podgoršek went on to say that in the Slovenian Development Strategy 2030, the government of the Republic of Slovenia summarizes the concepts of the bioeconomy in two of the twelve objectives: a low carbon circular economy (with the aim of increasing the share of renewable energies in final energy consumption) and the sustainable management of natural resources (with the aim of increasing the share of agricultural area used in relation to the total area, improving the quality of waterways and reducing the ecological footprint).
At the political level, the bioeconomy is also defined in the 2018 Roadmap for the development of the circular economy, which highlights four areas: the food system, forest value chains, manufacturing and mobility.
In the forestry sector, the objectives are detailed in the National forestry program, which sets the most important long-term and short-term directions for forest management, and Operational program for the implementation of the National Forestry Program 2017-2021.
In the field of wood economics, the Slovenian industrial strategy 2021-2030 is in preparation. It will establish guidelines for the further development of the Slovenian industry in the period 2021-2030, with the aim of making the Slovenian industry greener, more creative and smarter. This includes the transition to a low carbon circular economy, the decarbonization of energy intensive industries, sustainable mobility and the transition to an industry based on wood and other renewable natural materials.
Wood plays an important role among energy products in the Law on Renewable Energy Sources, which is in the process of adoption. The broader area of climate change is regulated by the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan. This action strategy document defines objectives, policies and measures for each of the five dimensions of the Energy Union for the period up to 2030 (with a view to 2040): decarbonisation (gas emissions greenhouse effect and renewable energy sources), energy efficiency and security, the internal market and research, innovation and competitiveness.
“Slovenia considers cooperation in the field of science and development to be the most important part of the cooperation mechanism in forestry. We believe that cooperation in the development of new materials and new wood products would contribute to the development of the bioeconomy. In doing so, it is important to promote and encourage the integration of companies operating in the forest-timber sector ”, underlined Mr. Podgoršek.
The exchange of experts and young scientists is also crucial to increase the exchange of existing knowledge and the development of new products and materials.
At the end of the Third Ministerial Conference, ministers declared the Beijing Declaration on Cooperation in Forest Bioeconomics, which is not binding under international law for member countries of the 17 + 1 initiative.
Cooperation in the 17 + 1 mechanism is part of the broader initiative for enhanced cooperation between seventeen countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary , Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia) and China. Countries play an important role in promoting sustainable and multifunctional forest management, protection of wetlands and wild animals, development of green economy and ecological culture. They work together to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the goal of sustainable forest management.
The Forestry Mechanism 17 + 1 is open to all interested companies and scientific research institutions aiming to develop cooperation with their partners operating in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in China in the field of forestry and forest sectors. -wood. The Republic of Slovenia coordinates the 17 + 1 forestry mechanism. Its executive coordinating body is based at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Republic of Slovenia.