WWF leads new sustainable strategy for China-Africa trade

Posted on 02 February 2007

Gordon Brown has today acknowledged the important role the UK must play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by encouraging sustainable trade between China and Africa. This includes support from the UK Government for a WWF project on sustainable trade in forestry and timber between China and East Africa.

Investment by the Department for International Development (DfID) will enable WWF to work with stakeholders in Africa, China and the EU to improve the quality of aid, trade, and investment reaching East Africa, thus safeguarding the future of its natural resources and protecting livelihoods.

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK, says: "China presents an enormous economic opportunity for East Africa, but the region is yet to fully reap the benefits. With support from DfID, WWF will help ensure East African countries can capitalise on this aid and investment to ensure the long term sustainability of their resources and economies. This will bring long term benefits for both sides."

In recent years, China has become a significant investor and trade and aid partner for East African countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, and Kenya. East Africa is rich in natural resources, including timber, and Mozambique and Tanzania now export more than 50 per cent of their timber to China1. Timber harvesting is occurring at an unsustainable rate with predictions that in Mozambique, the resource will be exhausted in five to ten years2.

The EU plays an important role in this trade relationship, as an end consumer of Africa's natural resources. Between 1997 and 2005, EU and US imports of Chinese forest products rose by 700 to 900 per cent.3

Dr Li Lin, Director of Conservation Strategies at WWF China says: "We must hold China, Africa, the EU and other consumer countries all accountable for improving the way our global market system functions and its impact on our planet. There needs to be a shared responsibility between the resource provider, the producer, and the consumer."

WWF believes this new approach to China-Africa-EU trade flows will be crucial in helping to build a global green economy.

David Nussbaum adds: "As leaders within the G20, China and the UK have an opportunity to demonstrate how public investments can support the move to a global economy that serves both people and nature."

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Editor's notes

WWF's China for a Global Shift Initiative seeks as one of its primary goals the promotion of win-win relationships between OECD countries and China for making China a driver for global sustainable development.

The way we live is leading to environmental threats such as climate change, species extinction, deforestation, water shortages and the collapse of fisheries. WWFs One Planet Future Campaign is working to help people live a good quality of life within the earth抯 capacity. For more information visit www.wwf.org.uk/oneplanet

In 2006, the imports of African forest products to China accounted for 2.5 million m3, or 5 per cent of total imports to China (China Customs Statistical Yearbook, data compiled by Forest Trends.)

1 Lessons Learned from a Logging Boom in Southern Tanzania, Simon Milledge, Ised Gelvas, Antje Ahrends. TRAFFIC 2007

2 Forest Governance in Zambezia: Chinese Takeaway, C Mackenzie (2006)

3 China and the Global Market for Forest Products; Transforming Trade to Benefit Forests and Livelihoods, Forest Trends, USA
White, A., Sun, X., Canby, K., Xu, J., Barr, C., Katsigris, E., Bull, G., Cossalter, C. and Nilsson, S. (2006)

For further information, please contact:

Chris Chaplin, Communications Officer, WWF China, tel. +86 10 6522 7100 ext. 3813, cchaplin@wwfchina.org

Debbie Chapman, Senior Press Officer, WWF-UK, tel. 01483 412397, 07771 818685, dchapman@wwf.org.uk