Officials, experts and scholars from 46 countries around the world gathered in Songdo, Incheon, on Monday for a five-day international conference on the future of forestry and the challenges that Asia-Pacific as a region faces today.
Co-organized by the Korea Forest Service and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the 28th Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission and the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019 will discuss the role of forestry in mitigating climate change and achieving sustainable development and carbon reduction goals, officials said.
Participants attend Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019, which runs through Friday in Songdo, Incheon. (KFS)
Calling for stronger global efforts to address climate change, Hiroto Mitsugi, assistant director-general of the Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said actions needed to be accelerated to ensure forests make a sufficient global contribution to achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement.
Hiroto Mitsugi, assistant director-general of the Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
“The (Asia-Pacific Forestry) Week will emphasize the value of forests in building peace and improving well-being – topics that are more relevant than ever given the current global challenges we face,” he said, noting carbon emissions unabated, trade wars, looming downturn and growing hunger.
“In these challenging times, we all have important roles to play in mainstreaming forests and forestry and their pivotal roles in tackling the most critical global issues,” he said.
Under the theme of “forest for peace and well-being,” the forum will also highlight the role of forests in implementing peace in conflict areas or marginalized areas due to desertification. The conferences will also focus on improving the quality of life, such as “forest rest and healing,” and creating forest-related jobs.
The forest week opens with a keynote speech by Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations and current president and chair of Global Green Growth Institute. Ban, who launched the International Year of Forests in 2011, during his second term as the eighth Secretary-General of UN, and continued his support for the Peace Forest Initiative to enhance trust and build lasting peace in post conflict situations, organizers said.
Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific (KFS)
Also at the opening ceremony Tuesday, Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific will also launch the Asia-Pacific Forest Sector Outlook Study III, a new session exploring the future of forests, peace and well-being in 2030. It will highlight how well-balanced human-nature interactions could change the world. The session will consider both forests and wider aspects of our future in 2030, according to statements.
In the forest week, a total of 64 exhibitors, including the host KFS, participate to showcase the forests of today and the future. Organizers operate separate field trips to demilitarized zone, the National Center for Forest Therapy in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, and forest management complex in Garisan in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province to demonstrate Korea’s policy work and sustainable forest management practices.
“We are pleased to showcase our experience, landscapes and forests, and to provide an opportunity for our participants to commune with nature,” Kim Jae-hyun, minister of Korea Forest Service, in a welcoming message.
“APFW 2019 will provide an opportunity for a broad range of participants from the government, academia, private sector and civil society to share knowledge and experience to promote the use of forests for peace and well-being.”
By Cho Chung-un, Lee Kwon-hyoung