Forests underpin life on Earth and have a key role in sustainable development. From tackling poverty and hunger to mitigating climate change and conserving biodiversity, the benefits of forests and trees span multiple goals and targets across the 2030 Agenda. Yet these valuable ecosystems are under increasing pressure from deforestation, forest degradation, unsustainable practices and the effects of climate change.
The XV World Forestry Congress provided a crucial opportunity for the global forest community to ensure that forests are an integral part of discussions and decisions within the 2030 Agenda, as well as the global COVID-19 recovery approaches. The world’s largest ever gathering on forests adopted the Seoul Forest Declaration, with a key focus on how forests can help combat the multiple crises humanity faces, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, hunger and poverty.The gathering, co-organized by the Republic of Korea and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) drew more than 15, 000 participants from over 160 countries either in person or online, in the first event of its kind since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A brief history of the World Forestry Congress
Since the first World Forestry Congress was held in Rome in 1926, about every six years, the Congress has been providing a forum for inclusive discussion on the key challenges and way forward for the forestry sector. In 1954, FAO was entrusted with supporting Congress preparations in close cooperation with the host country and proudly continues to do so today. More information on past Congresses can be found here.
The XV World Forestry Congress
The fifteenth Congress was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea, in Seoul, from 2 to 6 May 2022. At the world’s largest gathering on forests, stakeholders urged immediate action. Participants endorsed the Seoul Forest Declaration to convey the urgent need for action to achieve a green, healthy and resilient future with forests. The Congress also heard the Youth Call for Action and the Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood. A summary of the action points from the main sessions were compiled and presented.
The Republic of Korea is a country that highly values its forests for their important ecosystem services, and for health and recreation, and have many lessons learned to share with the global community.
Under the theme of Building a green, healthy and resilient future with forests, the Congress showcased the essential role of forests in the global sustainable development agenda – comprising, among other things, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals , the Global Forest Goals , the Paris Agreement on climate change, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – and it identified key measures and recommendations for enhancing this role. It also highlighted progress in the implementation of the recommendations made at the XIV World Forestry Congress in 2015.
Find out more about the thematic issues that the Congress addressed here.
Welcoming broad participation, the Congress brought together thousands of people from all regions and sectors, including the public and private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), scientific bodies, and forestry societies. By unifying such a diverse group of people who care about forests and the environment, the Congress encouraged inclusive discussions, build new partnerships, and facilitate the mainstreaming of forestry issues into global agendas on sustainable development and post-COVID-19 recovery.