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FAO appoints Prince Laurent of Belgium Special Ambassador for Forests and the Environment

His Highness highlights the crucial role forests play in agricultural development in the developing world

FAO Director-General and Prince Laurent of Belgium.

23 June 2014, Rome - Prince Laurent of Belgium was today appointed FAO Special Ambassador for Forests and the Environment.

The announcement was made by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at the Organization’s Committee on Forests (COFO) opening ceremony in Rome.

The appointment is in recognition of Prince Laurent’s longstanding efforts to promote global development and his passion for the environment, sustainable technologies, and animal health and well-being.

As FAO Special Ambassador, Prince Laurent will help FAO raise awareness about, and foster policy dialogue on, issues related to the sustainable management of forests and other natural resources.

The FAO Director General expressed his gratitude to Prince Laurent for agreeing to advocate the cause of sustainable development as FAO Special Ambassador.

“I am convinced that his involvement will send a strong message to the international community that sustainable management of resources is an essential means to achieve adequate access to food and water for all,” Graziano da Silva said.

Highlighting FAO’s role in the fight against hunger and the protection of natural resources, Prince Laurent said: “In many regions of the developing world, agricultural development can only be achieved through sustainable preservation of forests.  Forests are key to rural development and the fight against poverty.

“I take this gesture as a recognition of my work and my involvement,” he added. “I am ready to devote myself to this mission.”

Prince Laurent described Belgium’s role as a pioneer country in forestry research and management and noted how “whether tropical, boreal, temperate or Mediterranean, forests have always played an important role in human societies in an economic, social and environmental way”.

“Sustainable management has always been a concern for me throughout the years in which I have developed activities in Europe and Africa,” he said.

The FAO Director-General stressed that Prince Laurent will also contribute “to one of humanity’s greatest collective enterprises: eradicating hunger in our lifetime.”

For 25 years, Prince Laurent acted as Chairman of the Royal Institute for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Promotion of Clean Technologies, which promoted the conservation of nature and the development of clean technologies.

Prince Laurent is also the Chairman of the European Research Group for Alternative Toxicity Testing (ERGATT).

Graziano da Silva praised his current role as President of the Prince Laurent Foundation, which is dedicated to animal welfare.

“We welcome your support for our joint effort, which is to sustainably manage forests for the progress of humanity,” said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry.

The United Nations has a tradition of enlisting the support of prominent individuals to underline priority issues and to draw attention to its activities.