Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
it is an honor to join you here today. This conference could be pivotal in the fight against climate change. And it will be, if we turn ambition into action.
I hope this climate summit marks a moment where we put forests at the center of our efforts to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
For Finland, this topic is particularly close to heart. 75 percent of our area is covered with forests. In many ways, forests are our lifeline. They have been fundamental to our economic and social development – and are perhaps one of the reasons Finland is the happiest country in the world. Moreover, forests play a big role in achieving our target of climate neutrality by 2035.
As our society has changed, the forest economy has moved from timber to value-added wood products. Latest innovations include wood fibers that can replace cotton in textile production. Also in construction and packaging wood-based products offer sustainable alternatives.
Finland’s forest resources are continuously growing. The annual increment of forests has more than doubled since the 1950s. Every year, 150 million trees are planted in Finland. During a decade, that means more than a billion. In the EU, the aim is to double the amount of trees grown annually from 300 million to 600 million.
Our example shows that it is possible to benefit from our forests economically, while also increasing their positive climate impact. In many ways, forests are a good investment.
We continue to invest in our forests. Currently, we are running a 96 million euro program to investigate and pilot climate mitigation and adaptation measures in the land-use sector.
We also cooperate with numerous countries on how to use forests for the benefit of both the economy and climate. Most recently, I discussed the topic with President Putin.
At a global level, Finnfund, a Finnish impact investor, is investing in sustainable forestry in developing countries. Finnfund is the first development financing institution with net emission negative investment portfolio, based on a large share of forestry in the portfolio.
Delivering a transition towards a forest positive global economy is not an easy task, but Finland’s example shows that it’s possible. We stand ready to share our expertise. This topic warrants the attention of world leaders. It is always worthwhile to invest in forests.