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Forests’ contribution to the circular economy and sustainable wood-based innovations in focus for European Forest Week and Forêt2019

If you have been following the latest news about forests, there is one topic difficult to overlook – wildfires. The number of wildfires recorded so far this year has reached a record high. Prolonged periods of climate-change related droughts may be one of the causes of the increase in wildfires. But the forests affected by these fires also harbor powerful solutions for climate action.  

The world’s forests store an estimated 296 gigatonnes of carbon in both above- and below-ground biomass. Europe’s 400 billion trees alone currently absorb almost 9 percent of the continent’s greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, trees can cool the air by 8 degrees and serve as a great source of renewable energy. Finally, forest products can contribute to reducing the use of carbon intensive materials by offering wood-based alternatives in areas ranging from the textile industry to the construction sector.

Building on this potential, the versatile and sustainable uses of wood also offer enormous possibilities to accelerate the shift to a circular economy.

“Forests and the circular economy” is the theme of European Forest Week 2019, jointly organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Anybody interested is invited to visit the Palais des Nations between the 4 and 7 November. The week will kick off with the opening of the exhibition “Forests and the Circular Economy – A future without plastics”, which will take place in the Salle des Pas Perdus at 10am on 4 November. The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) and the UUSI PUU, a network of Finish organizations aimed at promoting a wood-based bioeconomy. Visitors will be able to discover innovative wood-based alternatives for everyday objects such as packaging, clothing, construction materials, and home objects.

Having set the tone for the week, the opening of the exhibition will be followed by a wide range of activities such as the World Café on Forests for Fashion, a World Bank event on financing a wood-based circular economy and many more.

For the full program and more details on the events please consult the program of side events here.

Those who wish to learn even more about forest policies and the circular economy are in luck; this year the European Forest Week is celebrated in conjunction with Forêt2019, the Joint Session of the UNECE Committee of Forests and the Forest Industry (COFFI), and the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC). Between 4 and 7 November, UNECE member States are coming together in the Palais des Nations to discuss the role of forests in the circular economy. The session opens with a panel discussion on the topic.

Following a keynote speech by Vasileos Rizos, research fellow and head of sustainable resources and circular economy at the Centre for European Policy Studies, a range of speakers will address topics such as the substitution of banned chemicals through wood-based materials and cellulose, the World Bank’s green growth principle, and regulations needed to advance the transition to the circular economy. The panel discussion will end with the presentation of the “Geneva vision for the circular economy in the forest sector”.

Please find the full program of the joint session here.


European Forest Week 2019: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/european-forest-week/en/

Forêt2019: http://www.unece.org/forests/foret2019