1. At the invitation of the Government of Viet Nam, the twenty-second session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) was convened in Hanoi, Viet Nam, 21-25 April 2008. Delegates from 31 member countries and 6 United Nations organizations participated in the session, along with observers and representatives from 5 non-member countries and 33 regional and international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. A list of participants is given in Appendix B. The Commission welcomed the Russian Federation as a new member.
2. Recognizing the Commission’s desire to see specific Asia-Pacific regional issues recognized and articulated in wider regional and global processes, and guided by recommendations of the twenty-first session of the Commission and by the Executive Committee of the Commission, the twenty-second session of the Commission was organized as the core activity within the broad concept of Asia-Pacific Forestry Week.
3. Asia-Pacific Forestry Week attracted more than 700 participants from 55 countries. More than 40 partners supported Asia-Pacific Forestry Week with financial and in-kind contributions. Special plenary sessions were organized on three separate mornings of Forestry Week, focused on forests and human well-being, forests and climate change, and forest law compliance and governance. Twenty-eight parallel events were organized by various partners during Forestry Week. An Information Market featured 27 organizational booths, 55 posters, a photo exhibit, and three book launching events.
4. The opening session featured addresses by the Deputy Prime Minister, Government of Viet Nam, the Assistant Director-General of the Forestry Department of FAO, and prominent keynote speakers.
5. His Excellency, Hoang Trung Hai, Deputy Prime Minister, Government of Viet Nam, welcomed participants on behalf of the Government of Viet Nam. He noted the important role that forestry plays in the economy of Viet Nam, as a vital economic and technical sector. He emphasized the dramatic increase in exports of forest products during the past several years, but also highlighted the heavy dependence of many poor people living in and near forests. Mr Hai further reported Viet Nam’s impressive efforts in reforestation and forest rehabilitation, and the country’s strong commitment to sustainable forest management.
6. Mr Jan Heino, Assistant Director-General, FAO Forestry Department, welcomed participants on behalf of FAO. He thanked the Government of Viet Nam, and especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, for the preparatory work and arrangements for Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, and acknowledged the collaboration of many partner organizations in jointly organizing the event. Mr Heino noted the challenges associated with poverty reduction, climate change and biofuels development as important long-term and emerging issues for forestry.
7. Ms Sunita Narain, Director of the Centre for Science and Environment, presented the first keynote address. Ms Narain noted that the threat of climate change and the imperatives of development are providing practitioners of forestry with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. She stressed that forests are the key to poverty eradication in large areas of the developing world. Ms Narain emphasized the need to re-invent the way forests are managed and incorporated in economic planning processes. She stressed that the main challenge is in balancing forest conservation and economic development, especially in developing countries.
8. Professor Norman Myers, Fellow of the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, presented the second keynote address. He emphasized the history and future outlook for deforestation, especially in the tropics. He noted that a continuation of current levels of conservation efforts will likely result in the loss of half the planet’s species within the next several decades. Professor Myers asserted that actions in the next several decades will determine the future of the earth for the next five million years. He stressed that the situation provides an enormous opportunity for foresters to develop new, effective strategies for biodiversity conservation and forest management.
9. Ms Frances Seymour, Director-General of the Center for International Forestry Research, provided introductory remarks from the international forest research community. She emphasized that the rapidity of change and the emergence of new challenges called for urgent action. She also noted that many institutions lack capacity to deal with the complexities of the challenges and that science often does not have comprehensive answers to important questions. Ms Seymour stressed that policies need to minimize risks to the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems.