Rome/Québec City, 29 September 2003
-- "By harmonizing the needs of people and
the planet for forest services we can progress along the path of
sustainable development," the XII World Forestry
Congress underlined at the conclusion of a week-long intensive
debate on the future of forests.
In a final
statement released in Québec City, Canada, on Sunday 28
September, the Congress stated that "forests have
enormous potential to make an invaluable contribution to the
imperatives of this era: for environmental security, poverty
alleviation, social justice, enhancement of human well-being,
equity for present and future generations."
"However, harmonization between people and
the planet cannot be achieved by forest managers alone. Bridges
must be built with other sectors," according to the
Congress final statement.
first time, the World Forestry Congress has addressed what
humans need from the forest, what the forest can provide
sustainably and the harmonization between the two," FAO
Assistant Director-General M. Hosny El-Lakany said.
Dr. El-Lakany, who heads FAO's Forestry
Department, indicated that the Québec gathering helped to bring
about more awareness that forest issues should be reinstated on
the political agenda at the highest level.
An FAO global forest resources assessment completed in
2000 reveals an annual net reduction of 12.4 million hectares of
forest in tropical developing countries over the previous
decade. Worldwide, some 1.6 billion people rely on forests for
The participants in the
Congress pledged to work towards reducing deforestation
significantly over the next decades, expanding or maintaining
forest cover, enhancing forest restoration and strengthening the
role of plantations in supplying wood products.
The right of indigenous peoples, forest communities,
forest workers and professionals were re-emphasized, and their
role in decision-making related to forest management and
utilization have been recognized, Dr. El-Lakany indicated.
He also said that the balance between
economic, environmental and social aspects of forests was
reiterated at Québec City.
envision a future with social justice, economic benefits from
sustainable forest management, participatory governance and
responsible use of forest resources," according to the
final statement of the Congress.
"We also envision a future where healthy
forests supply the full spectrum of products and services: soil
and water conservation, maintenance of biodiversity, climate
regulation, carbon sequestration; where forest cover is
increasing, where forest fragmentation is decreasing, and where
degradation is halted."
From talk to action
To realize this vision, the Congress called for
sustained political commitment, a stronger forest sector,
bridges with other partners and sectors, sustained international
cooperation, recognition of the knowledge of indigenous people
and management of forests and trees at local and regional
Above all, the Congress urged
countries to move the intergovernmental dialogue on forests from
talk to action.
The final statement urged
the world community to promote policies, partnerships,
education, management and better monitoring, evaluation and
reporting on progress in achieving the balance between the needs
of people and the planet.
recognized that forest education and research are essential for
sustainable forest management.
Participants in the Congress pledged to exert renewed
efforts to ensure that forests make a strong contribution to the
achievement of the Millenium Development Goals and other
internationally agreed targets.
Congress requested FAO to monitor, assess and report on progress
on the implementation of the conclusions outlined in its final
statement. A progress report will be presented to the XIII
World Forestry Congress to take place in 2009.
The XII World Forestry Congress held from 21to 28
September 2003 in Québec City, Canada, attracted more than 4 000
participants from more than 140 countries.
A wide spectrum of issues, in context of the Congress
theme: Forests, Source of Life, was considered under three
programme areas: Forests for People, Forests for the Planet and
People and Forests in Harmony.
included various levels of government and international
organizations, NGOs, individuals from rural communities, private
forest owners, labour, indigenous people, youth, industry,
environmental organizations and scientific and academic
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