|Launch of Awareness program for architecture students on the use of légal and certified timber Speech by President Jacques Chirac, Cité de l’Architecture, Paris, Tuesday, September 28, 2010Download President Chirac speech (pdf)|
Dear Minister, Frederic Mitterrand,
Dear President, François de Mazières,
Dear Jean Nouvel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Dear Friends,
My foundation has made deforestation and desertification its priorities because they are both vital issues in both geopolitics and development.
They are issues that touch upon the environment and climate change, loss of biodiversity, food security, population displacement, and the disappearance of cultures and languages.
Nearly 200 000 hectares of tropical forests vanish every week. Biodiversity and natural resources have never been so threatened, as are the millions of individuals who depend on the forests for their daily survival.
This summer, the heat waves and floods in Pakistan as well as the drought in Niger and the ensuing food crisis forcefully reminded us once more of the devastating consequences of improper land management.
Businesses, NGOs, and ordinary citizens are already hard at work in the field fighting deforestation.
In Copenhagen, political leaders that agreed our forests need to be saved. Next November in Cancun, they must go further. Governments must reach an agreement in order to rise to the post-Kyoto challenge.
Solutions are at hand; but they necessitate strong State commitments. They also need for producers and consumers of wood to work even more closely. As President of the Fondation, I wanted to participate in the struggle by committing my foundation to promoting sustainable forest stewardship, one that fulfills the requirements of FSC certification. The Fondation Chirac is currently involved in projects in the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and in Togo in particular. All these projects focus specifically on social aspects:
– Thus, the Centre of Social Excellence in Yaoundé, trains African experts to
accompany logging companies;
– A community radio, Biso na Biso, associated with the Congolaise Industrielle du Bois, allows local populations to participate in the management of concessions;
– Finally, the strengthening of land tenure rights, in partnership with French no Overall, the African continent currently boasts nearly 4.4 million hectares of FSC-certified forests. This figure was a mere 40,000 hectares five years ago.
I would like to salute the ongoing efforts by producer-countries. However, these results are not sufficient. Today, only 7% of the world’s industrial wood is certified. The World Bank estimates that 20% of tropical forest loss is a result of excessive logging. The world’s largest importer of wood is the European Union, particularly France, and both have their own share of responsibility.
In this context, the forthcoming enforcement of EU regulations prohibiting illegal timber from entering the Union’s territory constitutes a crucial step. Companies and timber producing countries however need much more active support. Consumers need to be better informed of their efforts. This is why we are meeting here today.
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank the President of the Cité de l’Architecture, François de Mazières, for his excellent welcome.
Awareness programs in Architecture Schools aim to involve architects, in their role as purchasing advisors, in the development of legal and certified timber use. The Ministry of Culture and Communication and the French Fund for Global Environment have enthusiastically agreed to partner with the Fondation. With their help, we are building this first step together.
Thank you, Mr. Minister, my dear Frédéric Mitterrand, for your personal involvement and your support. Allow me also to thank Anne-José Arlot and Jean Gautier.
Architects launch all building projects and can therefore recommend the use of certified wood. They are the relays for logging companies’ efforts and good practices. As tomorrow’s architects, the students of the 20 National Schools of Architecture must realize the importance of their role in encouraging responsible forest management. I want to warmly welcome Ms. Emmanuelle Grundmann, specialist of the rainforest.
Throughout the month of October, she will travel to each school to inform students about these issues through a series of conferences.
With her, our future architects will discover the availability and role of each species. They will learn about the daily lives of these forests’ populations and the importance of preserving the diversity of these territories’ fauna and flora.
Let us hope that with them and under the aegis of Jean Nouvel, the acclaimed sponsor of this project, a virtuous circle will commence, capable of transforming construction into a active protector of forests.