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Bamboo and rattan: natural elements for South-South partnerships

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15Nov

[The below is a statement given at COP 21. INBAR participated in the South-South Climate Change Collaboration Forum on December 6.]

The mutual exchange of knowledge, innovations and technologies among partners across the Global South are key to the wider development of bamboo and rattan.

The recent rise of China, India, and Brazil on the international stage has brought a new dynamic to global trade and development – South-South Cooperation. This shift has generated new partnerships, strengthened the exchange of expertise, and supported the development, adaptation and transfer of appropriate technologies and innovations throughout the developing world.

Bamboo and rattan lend themselves to this type of exchange: they grow mainly in the planet’s tropical belt, close to millions of rural communities, and the core expertise needed to develop these resources – to protect landscapes, create jobs and boost green economies – resides in the Global South.

In this sense INBAR has always used a South-South Partnership approach to support bamboo and rattan resource countries to improve rural livelihoods. Almost all of INBAR’s Member States are from the Global South, located in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

And today, as bamboo and rattan grow in popularity among global consumers, we see the equation evolving to a South-South-North dynamic. This translates to a win-win-win – for communities, local and national economies, and consumers of high-value bamboo and rattan goods.

Bamboo and rattan development expertise has always been in the South and as Northern countries enter the bamboo economy, they bring new expertise – on design, production technologies, and standards. These are the keys to access high value consumer markets.

We often speak of the economic and livelihood benefits of bamboo for rural communities. At COP 21 we are stressing the significant environmental benefits that these plants bring. They offer real solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Here the key words are carbon sequestration, protecting and expanding forests, and restoring degraded landscapes.

Many of our efforts have been supported by China, our host country, which is the world’s leader in bamboo processing and value chain development, and a producer of rattan. China has supported the development of bamboo and rattan sectors across the Global South for many years and shared its practical expertise with partner countries.

China’s innovations and policy support have seen its domestic bamboo sector grow from a subsistence activity in the 1980s to a vast industry that is now worth some USD30 billion per year, employs 7.75 million people, and has restored over 3 million hectares of degraded land.

This know-how is being transferred to partners across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Much of this is facilitated by INBAR in development projects and capacity strengthening initiatives that help low-income countries develop their fledgling bamboo sectors. The result for countries: new climate-smart industries that support sustainable livelihoods, reduce poverty, and protect our natural environment.

Other examples of south-south bamboo and rattan initiatives in action include:

– The Netherlands-China-East Africa partnership to transfer technology and business know-how – to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
– Bamboo charcoal partnerships in Ghana and Ethiopia to build the skills of government agencies and rural communities to produce this green energy product.
– A bamboo construction scheme in Latin America which shares know-how between Colombia, Peru and Ecuador on construction skills and the creation of national building codes.
– An initiative funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Research (IFAD) which transfers expertise from India to Tanzania, Ethiopia and Madagascar.
– Capacity development of 700 trainees from 70 countries on policy and enterprise development to strengthen national bamboo sectors.

These initiatives demonstrate two things: they reveal the significant potential of bamboo and rattan; and identify the south-south partnerships needed to effectively harness these strategic resources for sustainable development. Building on these collaborations will offer countries a multitude of climate-smart solutions to tackle the effects of climate change in the years and decades ahead.