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International Day of Forests - The contribution of forests to sustainability and development

21 March 2013

UNOG Library Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland


The United Nations General Assembly has passed a draft resolution to designate 21 March each year as World Forest Day, encouraging all Member States to organize forest-related activities. This resolution marks the importance of forests and their contribution to human enlightenment. Forests have always played a major role in human history. Over time, the interaction between humans and forests has changed in response to social and economic changes. A historical perspective reveals the importance of striking a balance between conservation and use in order to ensure the full range of forests’ economic, social and environmental contributions.Sustainability which is founded upon these core concepts found its roots in scientific forestry more than three centuries ago.


For example, in 1713, Hans Carl von Carlowitz, Chief Mining Administrator at the court of Kursachsen in Freiberg (Saxony), published his work “Sylvicultura oeconomica” in which he demanded that no more trees should be felled than could be replaced through the planned sowing and planting of new trees. He called this approach “nachhaltig” (in English: sustainable). Similar concepts appeared around the same time in other countries.


The science and practice of forestry have evolved and expanded over the centuries, from focusing on the preservation of forest capital while ensuring the sustainable production of wood, to including a deeper understanding of sustainable development.


Objective of the discussion:

To highlight the contribution of forestry to our society and to celebrate the first ever official World Forest Day, the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section together with the United Nations Office in Geneva, is organizing a high level policy talk on ‘The contribution of forests to sustainability and development”.

A distinguished group of speakers will debate on these issues and present success stories as well as their vision, illustrating how maintaining the health and productivity of forests in different regions of the world have contributed and will continue to contribute to sustainable development.

Although national priorities may differ between countries, there is consensus that sustainable forest management remains a shared objective, not only between countries with similar levels of forest cover, but between those with quite different experiences.

Join us to discuss how sustainable forest management can respond to a variety of needs from multiple stakeholders and create a healthier society.




Welcome addresses by Ambassador Thomas Fitschen and Mr. Sven Alkalaj; moderated by Mr. David Chikvaidze.
Mr. Clemens Neumann, Mr. Panfilov, Mr. Cumming (Translator).Ms. Eva Müller, Ambassador Manuel B. Dengo, Mr. Neumann and Mr. Panfilov.
Mr. Alexander Panfilov and Mr. Heikki Granholm (moderator)Mr. Marc Palahi, Ms. Müller, Ambassador Dengo, Mr. Neumann and Mr. Panfilov
Ambassador Manuel B. DengoMs. Müller, Mr. Palahi and Mr. Neumann
Ms. Müller and Ambassador B. DengoMr. John Innes and Ms. Müller
Mr. John InnesMr. Marc Palahi
Mr. Heikki Granholm (Moderator)Dr. Vittorio De Cristofaro
Reception sponsored by the Mission of Germany to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva


Welcome Addresses

Thomas Fitschen
Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in GenevaPDF
Mr. Sven Alkalaj
United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for EuropePDF



Alexander Panfilov
State Secretary, Deputy Head of the Federal Forestry Agency, Russian Federation PDF
Clemens Neumann
Director-General, Bio-based Economy, Sustainable Agriculture and Consummer Protection of Germany (BMELV)PDF
Manuel B. Dengo
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office and other International Organization in GenevaPDF
Eva Müller
Director, Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsPDF
John Innes
Dean and Professor, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, CanadaPDF
Marc Palahi
Deputy Director, European Forest InstitutePDF
Vittorio De Cristofaro
Directorate-general for nature and sea protection PDF