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Event 16 + 1: “Slovenia has a few centuries worth of knowledge and tradition in forestry – forestry is the source of energy and life”

Brdo Pri Kranju, 24th May 2016 – The first high-level meeting on the coordination mechanism between the People’s Republic of China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Business and Investment Conference of the Forest Wood Chain was held today in Brdo pri Kranju. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The high-level meeting was chaired by Minister Dejan Židan, who held the opening speech, saying, among other things, that Slovenia, as a country where 60% of the territory is covered in forest, is aware of the significance of sustainable management of natural resources and the extent to which these resources are tied to the efforts towards reducing climate change impacts. “For this reason, we especially welcome any willingness to exchange experience, expertise and efforts to include forestry into the sustainable management of natural resources and into the green economies of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and China.”

With the support received at the 4th Summit of the leaders of CEE countries and China in November 2015, Slovenia became the coordinator in establishing a mechanism for coordinating cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and CEE countries in the field of forestry. The result of such acknowledgement and confidence in Slovenia is today’s first meeting of the 16 + 1 coordination mechanism. The chairman of this event, Minister Dejan Židan, the Minister for forestry of the People's Republic of China Zhang Jianlong and other delegation leaders signed a cooperation action plan within the mechanism for coordinating the cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and CEE countries. By signing this plan, Slovenia assumed the role of the coordinator and, together with the representatives of the remaining 15 CEE countries and China, formed the coordination authority that will be responsible for carrying out specific tasks with the purpose of achieving sustainable management in forests, enhancing economic cooperation between countries, and exchanging experience in the scientific field. The coordination authority will be led by a representative of Slovenia, while other members will be appointed by the competent ministers from all participating countries. 


As mentioned by Minister Dejan Židan in his introductory speech, today’s meeting has a symbolic meaning because the last week in May has, for the past 40 years, been dedicated to Slovenian forests. This year's common thread of the forest week are events taking place under the slogan “Forests for tomorrow – let us preserve them!”, reflecting the commitment to a sustainable use of forests. According to the Minister, forests are extremely important in improving the living conditions for the society in general. “They are a key natural element for encouraging green growth, they can considerably affect climate change mitigation and generally encourage social and economic development. They are definitely of key importance for the development of what is known as the green economy.” 


At the press conference following the event, Minister Dejan Židan said that the priorities set by Slovenia have been coordinated with China. “The key priorities within the mechanism are the exchange of competences and expert information, the coordination of countries in science and research, the enhancement of economic cooperation in forestry and the timber industry, and the pursuit of green economy's recognisability in all countries that signed the Action Plan.” When asked what our country can offer to the 16 + 1 group, Dejan Židan replied: “Slovenia can provide an information platform for activities in forestry and the timber industry and, most of all, highly technological know-how and opportunities for investments in Slovenia.” The Minister added that this mechanism givesSlovenia recognition that its path in the field of forestry is the correct one. Furthermore, he emphasised the economic exchange as an extremely important benefit gained from the cooperation and also added that “the Slovenian timber industry has, once again, started to grow in the recent years and has been operating with profit. The mutual exchange with China will provide an opportunity for us to create new jobs within this important industry known as the green economy.” According to the Minister, Slovenia places great emphasis on the cooperation within the 16 + 1 mechanism, and the signed documents, including the Action Plan, will contribute to a successful cooperation in enhancing trade and new investments in business, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, and, last but not least, also in enhancing the development of the entire forest and wood chain. The Minister concluded his speech by pointing out that Slovenia is aware of how important is the sustainable management of natural resources and how closely these resources are tied to the efforts towards reducing the  climate change impacts. In his opinion, such cooperation would certainly contribute to the exchange of experience and best practices, as well as the inclusion of forestry into the sustainable management of natural resources and into the green economies of Central and Eastern European Countries and China. “We are aware that the coordination mechanism is necessary as there is truly a great need for economic cooperation. I believe that, in five years, we will be able to say today was a historical moment for Slovenia as well as for China,” added Dejan Židan.


The Administrator of State Forestry Administration of the People's Republic of China Zhang Jianlong emphasised at the press conference that today was a historical day, adding that forests are one of the greatest treasures, important for the existence of humanity and culture. According to him, China is developing new policies and methods for a sustainable green development of forests in China. According to Zhang Jianlong, China would like to see more cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries in the field of forestry, science and the green economy. 


In the afternoon, Minister Dejan Židan and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Jianlong addressed those attending the business meeting in the field of forestry and the timber industry, where over 60 companies from China and Slovenia were present. Both ministers also took part in the signing of a first business cooperation agreement between the Slovenian company called Lesko and the Natural Home company from China.



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