By FOO YEE PING
NEW YORK: Malaysia has maintained its right to convert forests to other land uses such as agriculture although it acknowledges that deforestation may lead to climate change.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar told a special meeting of Tropical Rainforest Countries’ Leaders here on Monday: “It is to our own interest to conserve and manage our forest resources on a sustainable basis.”
He said Malaysia, just like other developing countries, should not be denied the right to development particularly to fulfil its obligation to eradicate poverty.
He added that Malaysia was blessed with relatively large tracts of natural tropical forests, which covered almost 60% of its total land area.
He stressed that any approach to resolve the problem of climate change must consider the differences between developed and developing countries.
“Developed countries have already reached a stage in their economic development where they should reduce emission of greenhouse gases,” he said.
At a separate meeting on climate change, Syed Hamid called on developed nations to take the lead on finance and economics in fighting climate change.
“Although much has been said about the need for more financing, the sad fact is that this has not been forthcoming.
“Many of the funds set up for these purposes come with conditions that sometimes render it impossible for some developing countries to receive any financing in their struggle to adapt to climate change.”
Speaking to Malaysian journalists later, Syed Hamid said there was consensus that climate change problems must be dealt with at a multilateral level and within the ambit of the United Nations.
He also said that Asean must have a uniform policy and act collectively to protect its natural resources.
Malaysia, he added, was working with Brunei and Indonesia to protect the heart of Borneo.