30 September 2019 – At the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the global climate emergency was front and centre – and a delegation INBAR attended high-level events and meetings to discuss how bamboo and rattan will be an active part of the solution.
INBAR was granted Observer status to the UNGA in 2017, making 2019 only the second time that the Director General of INBAR has attended this important event. This year, Director General Ali Mchumo, accompanied by assistant Li Ting and by Global Policy Officer Borja de la Pena Escardo, attended three high level bilateral meetings with the heads of UN agencies. Meeting with Mr Jorge Chediek, Director of the United Nations Office on South South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and longtime supporter of INBAR’s work, the delegation had a fruitful discussion focussing on future priorities for the UNOSSC and logistical support for INBAR’s work.
In addition, Mr Mchumo and the delegation met with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), to which INBAR is a Permanent Observer. The final bilateral meeting was with Mr Li Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), where it was agreed to sign an institutional MOU which will outline plans for further collaboration. In addition to these formal inter-institution meetings the Climate Action Summit and UNGA provided a key opportunity for more informal discussions, which promise to flower into fruitful collaborations and directed action.
With climate change on everyone’s mind and the potential for nature based solutions like planting trees and bamboo to provide 1/3 of the action needed to combat climate change over the next decade, INBAR and the potential of bamboo and rattan were a key part of the conversation.
INBAR’s message at the UNGA Climate Action Summit was clear: Bamboo grows abundantly across the Global South and is the fastest growing plant in the world. Its fast growing properties make it particularly effective as a carbon sink. A a hectare of planted bamboo can sequester more carbon over its lifetime than certain types of tree. Bamboo rhizomes bind tightly to soil, preventing water runoff and soil erosion and restoring degraded land; and it can be harvested without killing the roots of the plant, meaning that its products can be used to create sustainable, green livelihoods without losing its ecological benefits.
INBAR is a member of the Nature Based Solutions Coalition, an initiative co-led by China and New Zealand and supported by a larger group of countries and institutions. It is fitting thus that INBAR gave a statement to the UN’s Climate Action Summit during the session held in the United Nations Economic and Social Chamber, “NBS Momentum”, discussing the role of bamboo has to play. Global Policy Officer Borja de la Pena Escardo said that:
“INBAR fully supports the nature based solutions manifesto, and we are willing to work with all the members of the NBS coalition as we have been doing with our proposals and contributions on the pathway that lead to this summit.”
INBAR and bamboo were included as part of the NBS Contributions Compendium that was compiled in advance as part of preparations for the summit and is available online here.
In addition to attending the Climate Action Summit and the UNGA itself, INBAR attended a side event on ‘Nature Based Solutions in China – Best Practices and the way forward’ hosted by international NGO The Nature Conservancy and China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. As a speaker on the panel of this event, Mr, Ali Mchumo outlined the key role that bamboo and rattan can play as nature-based solutions for sustainable development, and discussed his impressions about the work that China has already done towards these goals:
“Bamboo in China is already the sustainable timber of the future.”
The event was also an occasion to take part in a fruitful discussion with partners both old and new about current and future policy and strategy action.
As an Observer to the United Nations General Assembly, INBAR will continue to work to raise awareness, commit to action, and change minds about the potential of bamboo and rattan to provide solutions for sustainable development.