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UNECE/FAO define key messages to stress the contribution of forests to a Green Economy

Published: 20 October 2011


Increasing environmental, social and economic expectations are putting unprecedented pressure on forests in the ECE region. Balancing the competing demands of climate change, while protecting the forests’ rich biodiversity, yet satisfying a growing requirement for renewable energy and the raw material needs of industry, is a key challenge, which was  discussed extensively at the recent joint session of the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC) and the ECE Timber Committee (TC), in Antalya on 10-14 October. Good information on how to integrate these different objectives is key to helping policymakers reach informed decisions that will optimize the forest sector's contribution to the green economy. Clear communication is also essential in ensuring that the right messages are delivered to the right audiences in language that is easy to understand.

To support this communication goal, the Timber Committee and European Forestry Commission sought the help of  the ECE/FAO Forest Communicators Network (FCN) during Orman 2011.  Their task was to develop a series of simple "take home messages" on "Forests in a Green Economy". There was no shortage of ideas from participants in Orman, with more than 200 written inputs. The analysis of these written comments, together with points brought out in discussion, led the FCN to identify three priority objectives for the forest sector that would help to enhance its contribution to the Green Economy.

Highlight forest benefits. Champion the multiple benefits for people, the economy and the environment of forests, forest products and services. Do so with key decision makers, business, media and the general public. Communicate the innovative potential of forest products. Examples of such innovation include smart paper, wood-based composites and cellulose-based biofuels. Participate in fora and establish dialogues to further develop interaction between the forest sector and society. A special focus of these efforts should be partners in the green economy such as green builders and biofuel providers.

Recognize the low-carbon footprint of forest products. Ensure that full life-cycle analysis is used whenever comparisons are made between forest products and alternatives; for example in green building and green public procurement schemes. In this way, the full environmental impact of all products will be taken into account and better environmental results achieved. Provide authorities with information on the full economic and environmental impact of measures that affect the forest sector so that they can make better informed decisions.

Develop green economy policies that fully benefit from forest-based measures. Provide political arguments backed by economic and scientific evidence to politicians. Use these arguments to support the role of forest products and services, as well as forest-based jobs, in the green economy.  Demonstrate the value of ecosystem services to decision makers. To achieve better environmental and economic results, take into account the value of ecosystem services in policy and regulatory decisions.

Orman 2011 recognized the need for ongoing efforts to improve the completeness of forest sector reporting, to find and develop better ways of analysing collected information, and to communicate results more effectively. The way information is passed on will be diverse and tailored to the needs of the particular audience that is being targeted. There could be benefits too from sharing what is being done in other regions in terms of developing communication strategies.

Information about this meeting is available at, http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=16262

For more information please contact:

Eve Charles
UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 3922
Email: eve.charles@unece.org
Website: www.unece.org/forests

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