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International Day of Forests 2017

Closing remarks by Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General

Excellencies,
Distinguished panelists and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me congratulate you all for today’s excellent discussions and thank our esteemed speakers whose inspiring remarks set the scene. 

Fully reflecting the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests, we covered critical aspects of the Forests-Energy nexus. 

You highlighted how forests and wood energy solutions are significant to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as their importance for positive climate outcomes under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

We emphasized the role of wood fuel as a source of energy to billions – especially the rural poor - for cooking, heating and generating electricity. Indeed, it is often the most affordable and locally available fuel to provide a cooked meal and better nutrition, boiled water for safe drinking, and a warm dwelling. .

The meeting explored how technological development and cutting-edge products, including liquid biofuels could open new avenues for greener energy and a more sustainable future. 

Our discussions not only reminded us of the complex services forests provide – from raw material for energy generation to contributing to hydropower through watersheds to helping save energy by regulating temperatures.

We recognized that forests offer a much larger potential if sustainably managed. Inefficiencies across the production chain - from the management of the resource to the production of wood energy products and to the methods and devices for converting them to energy– are making wood energy less green than it could be. 

My message to you is simple: More energy from wood should not require more wood for energy - but better wood energy.  

This should be our guiding principle when thinking about future actions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With this in mind, let’s recall important points from today’s session. 

The following actions will help realize the full potential of wood as an economically, socially and environmentally beneficial source of energy and call on all of us to: 

  1. Promote responsible policies that encourage long-term investment in the sustainable production of wood energy, such as clear and equitable land-tenure and use rights. 
  2. Support technology transfer and foster an efficient, well-regulated woodfuel trade that generates revenue for sustainable forest management and improves rural livelihoods. 
  3. Continue to increase the area of sustainably managed forests and community woodlots thereby providing a basis for the production of clean, renewable, affordable and reliable wood energy.
  4. Encourage the widespread use of clean, cheap, efficient stoves that minimize negative impacts on health and the environment. 

FAO is committed to providing a neutral platform for negotiations and dialogue, through its governing bodies including COFO and the Regional Forestry Commissions as well as our unique linkage to the Private Sector, the Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest-based Industries and other relevant statutory bodies.

We encourage greater interaction among all the parties working to achieve sustainably managed forests, and thus greater energy security and sustainability. 

And, needless to say, FAO stands ready to collaborate and work together with member Nations, international partners and the broadest range of stakeholders to continue to promote sustainable forest management worldwide.

Thank you.