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Final Statement of the XII World Forestry Congress: envisaging a new future for forests

J.P. Koyo

Jean Prosper Koyo is the Associate General Secretary of the XII World Forestry Congress.

The deliberations of the XII World Foresty Congress, held from 21 to 28 September 2003 in Quebec City, Canada with the theme “Forests: source of life”, were formalized by the Final Statement, which gives a vision for the future of forests to the year 2021.

In the preamble of the Final Statement, the congress expressed concern about the discrepancy between the impressive progress in the development of concepts and tools, national programmes, global and regional treaties and varied partnerships among governments and international organizations, and the continued alarming rate of deforestation and degradation of forest resources.

Convinced that the needs of the planet and its people can be harmonized, and that forests have enormous potential to make a vital contribution in this regard, congress participants adopted a vision based on:

• social justice, poverty alleviation and sustained livelihoods;
• economic benefits, with recognition of the full value of forest products and services;
• healthy forests;
• the responsible use of forest resources;
• participatory and transparent governance;
• turning intergovernmental deliberations on forests into action;
• forestry research and education leading to better understanding of the complex relationship between ecosystems and human well-being.

Congress participants have committed themselves, and are urging commitment from the entire world community as well, to pursue this vision and accelerate progress by means of the following strategies: policy, institutional and governance frameworks in forestry; partnerships; research, education and capacity building; management; and monitoring.

To realize this vision, congress participants highlighted the following prerequisites:

• sustained political commitment and adequate financing;
• a strong, responsible forest sector;
• bridges with other actors and sectors;
• sustained and more effective international cooperation;
• policies based on best available science and information;
• competencies to address issues of complexity and multiple objectives;
• recognition of the considerable capital of culture, knowledge and good practice of indigenous peoples and local communities;
• management of forests and trees at local and regional scales, interfacing with human settlements, agroforestry systems, non-wood forest resources and other natural resources systems.

The congress moreover invited all governments, related agencies, professional organizations, private companies and cooperatives, communities and individuals to pursue the strategies of this vision as a contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and other internationally agreed targets.

The congress also requested FAO to present an assessment of progress on the strategies outlined in the Final Statement to the XIII World Forestry Congress.

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