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Countries pledge to keep climate change on forest agenda

Published: 05 November 2015

Thirty-nine countries from Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia, the Caucasus and North America pledged this week to continue their efforts to build climate change into national forest programmes, plans and strategies.

The countries made their pledge during Silva 2015, the joint session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) European Forestry Commission, which took place 2-6 November 2015 in Engelberg, Switzerland, during European Forest Week.

Countries also encouraged each other to play an active part in the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and asked UNECE and FAO to work on developing global forest-related indicators related to the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, building on existing indicators.

Developing markets and investments for forest ecosystem services were of key interest to many countries, who appraised the Market Discussions of the Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry as a unique platform for information and experience exchange on forest products markets at regional level.

Doris Leuthard, Minister of Environment, Switzerland, UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia Tony Alonzi, addressed more than two hundred international participants at the opening ceremony.

Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, underlined the importance of forests in meeting the Sustainable Developments Goals and stressed the importance of taking a cross-sectoral approach.

The meeting brought together people from forestry and other sectors, including government representatives and delegations, forest owners, industry, businesses, environmental NGOs, academics and students.

The 3rd European Forest Week opened with the announcements of the winners of the FAO photo contest “Value of Forests” and the International Russian Junior Forestry Contest organized by the Russian Federation.

FAO also launched its Global Forest Resource Assessment app competition, which challenges people to use the latest FAO data to develop mobile apps that can help better manage forest resources and improve understanding of forests worldwide.

More than 25 forest-related side events took place during the week. There were almost 40 poster displays from Swiss and international research institutes and others.

Side events covered a huge range of forest-related topics, including most recent innovative applications of wood, Canadian and Central African indigenous community forest management, green jobs in the forest sector, forest biodiversity and wildlife management.

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