Youth must be given the skills to shape evolving forestry sector, FAO Director-General says

QU Dongyu addresses youth event A Bright Future for Forestry

©FAO: Giuseppe Carotenuto

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu speaks at A bright future for forestry - Investing in youth career development at FAO headquarters in Rome

©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto


Rome – Investing in a sustainable future means investing in youth, QU Dongyu, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today told attendees of the event A bright future for forestry: Investing in youth career development.

Young professionals from FAO’s Forestry Division and the Global Network for Forestry Young Professionals organised the event. It took place as part of the 26th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), FAO’s highest statutory body dealing with the forestry sector.

"One of the key messages from this week’s session of COFO is that healthy forests mean healthy societies, healthy economies and healthy ecosystems. To achieve this, we must continue planting the seeds and seedlings for a better, more sustainable future," Qu said. "And we cannot do that without the youth – together with all of you here today, and those of you online. You are our next generation of leaders, business makers and ordinary workers, and the bridge to a healthy future."

He added that the role of forestry is changing and is increasingly recognized as a crucial part of the solution in addressing today’s complex global challenges ranging from climate to hunger and from poverty to socio-economic inequalities.

There is a growing demand for expertise in sustainable forest management, forest conservation and restoration, agroforestry and in forest-based bio-economies and the forest sector must be made more appealing to young people, the Director-General said.

Qu said we must ensure young people have the skills to shape a continuously evolving forest sector: by investing in education and career development; by highlighting the expertise and contributions of young professionals; and by providing appealing opportunities for youth to thrive and emerge as leaders.

“Investing in a sustainable future means investing in youth,” Qu said.

The Director-General also pointed to the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, which embraces “youth, gender and inclusion’’ as a cross-cutting theme for all FAO’s work.

Global Assessment of Forest Education

The event also saw the launch of the Global Assessment of Forest Education published jointly by FAO, the International Tropical Timber Organization  and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. It is based on the results of the 2020 Global Forest Education Survey and looks at education and training related to forests at all levels of formal education.

Forestry education must be developed and used far more effectively, across all age groups and career stages, to ensure that we have the people, skills, policies and public awareness needed to protect forests, the report said. It highlights the need for inclusive solutions that take into account local relevance, digital divides, language barriers and a gender and racial/ethnic balance in forest education programs and the workforce. 

A bright future for forestry highlighted how young professionals and the forest sector are contributing to the achievement of the Work with Us - Youth Call for Action, which calls on the forest sector to work together with youth and young professionals towards a more inclusive and enabling forestry sector. The event provided examples of career development programmes and initiatives in forestry that can be replicated and scaled up by Members. 

A panel session also took place during A bright future for forestry, held as a hybrid event at FAO headquarters in Rome.


Sean Sampson FAO News and Media (Rome) [email protected]

FAO News and Media (+39) 06 570 53625 [email protected]