Cihan Sultanoğlu at “The Year of Environment in The Russian Federation: Protected Areas for Sustainable Development”

Jul 13, 2017

Statement at Side Event “The Year of Environment in The Russian Federation: Protected Areas for Sustainable Development”,  the High-level Political Forum 2017


Honourable Deputy Minister, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to participate in this event on protected areas for sustainable development, and I would like to start by thanking the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN for the invitation to join this timely discussion.

It is very symbolic that we gather today on the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the key mechanism for reviewing and following up on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I am a firm believer in the promise of Agenda 2030.  I am also a firm believer that healthy biodiversity and ecosystems are the very basis for our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and that investments in nature provide one of the most efficient, inclusive and effective pathways to accelerating progress on the SDGs.

Let me explain using forests as an example.

Poverty, jobs and livelihoods:

1.3 billion people – one-fifth of the world’s population – depend on forests for their employment or livelihood. Forests play a major role in alleviating poverty, comprising between 50% and 90% of the total income for hundreds of millions of forest-dwelling households.


Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible fresh water for domestic, agricultural and industrial needs


Fuelwood and charcoal remain the most important source of energy, particularly for the world’s poorest – one out of every three households around the world – about 2.4 billion – uses wood or charcoal to cook their daily meals.


Forests sequester about 30% of all CO2 emissions. Avoiding deforestation would help contribute a 15% reduction in greenhouse gases.

Investing in the protection, restoration and sustainable use of forests – and of other ecosystems – helps us achieve multiple sustainable development goals at once. In recognition of this, UNDP has supported 130 countries in accessing $1.6 billion from the Global Environment Facility for biodiversity, while leveraging another $5.1 billion in co-financing. The dividend is measured not only in the biodiversity that has been conserved, but by the development dividends of jobs, livelihoods, food, water, health, energy and disaster risk reduction. For example, our biodiversity work has improved livelihoods for more than 223 million people.

It is in that context that I’d like to describe our partnership on protected areas with the Government of Russia. Since 2001, we have worked together to access more than $50 million in grant financing from the GEF, and leveraging almost $90 million in co-financing for protected area projects.  These projects strengthened almost a third – 30 out of 102 – of the federal nature reserves and national parks in Russia and included 2 million hectares of globally significant biodiversity into the protected area estate.

Our journey covered key ecosystems from the Taimyr plateau in the Arctic, to the Komi boreal forests in the Ural Mountains, from the Altay Sayan ecoregion to the Orenburg Steppe, from the Kamchatka’s Volcanoes and its salmon rich rivers to the productive freshwater ecosystems of the Lower Volga and the remote Comandorsky and Far Eastern marine reserves.   Recently, our programme supported the establishment of a regional protected area in the Amur Oblast of Russia through a long-term agreement with the energy sector companies working in the area.

In all projects, we helped the government invest in infrastructure, enforcement, equipment and staff, to improve the management effectiveness protected areas and unleash their economic potential.  For example, in Kamchatka, Bystrinsky Nature Park become the largest catalyst in entrepreneurship and alternative livelihoods in the area, more than doubling both the size of the local economy and the employment rate.

Managing the diverse ecosystems in the vast territory of Russia is undoubtedly an enormous task, but it is also a globally significant one.  Nearly one out of every five trees on the planet is in Russia, and these forests play a critical role in sequestering up to 600 million megatonnes of carbon. Protection, including control of forests fires, is essential to maintain this service. It is also essential for the Russian economy – forest fires between 2008 and 2010 burned more than 6 million hectares, and in 2010 caused $15 billion in damages, and a drop in national GDP of nearly 2%.  For this reason, UNDP helped Russia access over $20 million in direct and leveraged funds to strengthen forest fire management in the Komi forests across more than 1.5 million hectares, in the heart of forest fire territory.

Networks of effectively managed protected areas are a vital strategy for ensuring ecosystems are able to continue to generate jobs and livelihoods, sequester carbon and deliver on local and global SDGs. UNDP’s development strategy is to harness the contributions of protected areas to achieve Agenda 2030.  

To do this, we must start treating protected areas as societal investments, measured in terms of volumes of water, livelihoods, carbon sequestration and other development dividends. We must calculate the full impacts of illegal logging on the economy. We must ensure that legal activities from mining, transportation and other sectors do not undermine the ability of ecosystems to continue to deliver on development. And most importantly, we must position protected areas as a vehicle for SDG delivery by embedding them within national policy frameworks and plans, including national plans for water security, food security, health, employment, tourism, energy and natural disaster planning.

UNDP will continue to nurture its strategic partnership with the Russian Federation, focusing on cooperation at the regional and global level and supporting the country’s fast-growing contributions to international development.  Russia’s financial contribution to UNDP development programming around the world is rising -- since 2010 UNDP received over $61 million, including $25 million for the UNDP-Russia Trust Fund for Development and $10 million for the Trust Fund Climate Change Window that opened for business last year.

We look forward to our continued partnership with the Government of Russia and I would like to once again express gratitude to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN for hosting this important event, and to wish you success in your deliberations.

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