XV World Forestry Congress: Young people call for more opportunities, training and political participation in the forest sector

Young people call for more opportunities, training and political participation in the forest sector

©FAO/Pilar Valbuena


Seoul – Over 600 youth and young professionals engaged in the forest sector have called for better opportunities, training and a platform to make their voices heard in a call to action issued at the close of the XV World Forestry Congress (WFC).

The Work with Us: Youth Call for Action was led by the United Nations Forum on Forests Major Group for Children and Youth (UNFF-MGCY), the WFC Youth Coalition organizations and supported by the XV World Forestry Congress Secretariat, after extensive consultation in five regions of the world.

It called for more inclusive and equitable access to quality forest education, training, and decent employment and career development opportunities for youth. The document highlighted the need for greater access to finance and investment to support youth entrepreneurship, as well as increased gender equity and empowerment of young women in the forest sector. Crucially, it called for a vote and voice for youth in forest policy and decision-making platforms.

The XV World Forestry Congress, which took place in the South Korean capital from 2-6 May, was the largest ever gathering of forest stakeholders and provided an opportunity to youth and young professionals to say how they want to be involved  in creating a sustainable future with forests. On the opening day of the congress, youth delegates met with the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, QU Dongyu, who congratulated them on their involvement and commitment.

Focus on youth engagement

Ahead of the Congress, youth and young professionals engaged in a series of activities to enhance capacity building and networking, and to foster inclusive and intergenerational dialogue for better decisions and programmes in the forest sector.

More than 100 people took part in the Green Mentorship Program, organized by the World Forestry Congress in partnership with Project Learning Tree Canada, an environmental education program, in response to the need for “mentorship” identified by youth during the XIV World Forestry Congress in 2015. The six-month programme designed to nurture next generation leaders for the forest sector has helped mentees to grow their networks, build confidence and soft skills, plan their forest sector career pathway, and assert themselves in the sector.

Several other initiatives in the run up to the Congress also helped ensure strong youth engagement.

The World Forest Voices Podcast promoted intergenerational dialogue in the forest sector; an online webinar series aimed at empowering and building the capacity of youth and young professionals to contribute to the Congress and the broader forest sector; and competitions encouraged youth to voice their experience and thoughts.