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Sustainable forest use helps tackle the climate crisis and achieve the SDGs – FAO

From drinking a glass of water to building a house, forests are precious resources for people’s lives and are key to solving many global challenges, including the climate crisis and poverty, according to a new report developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the European Forest Institute (EFI).

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FAO Director-General Dongyu Qu at a ceremony to complete the planting of 40 trees donated by the Lazio Region on the occasion of the International Day of Forests (IDF) 2022 at the G20 Green Garden, Appia Antica Archeological Park in Rome, Italy (photo courtesy FAO / Pier Paolo Cito).

The publication: Forest Products in the global bioeconomy: Enabling substitution with wood-based products and contributing to sustainable development goals, was launched today on the occasion of the International Day of Forests 2022, celebrated at the EXPO 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The report is a comprehensive document that outlines wood-based innovations that pave the way for the use of forest products in ways that decrease environmental impact and waste generation. It also offers the private sector, governments, international cooperation bodies, and researchers a set of recommendations to both enable and boost the substitution of products that are not sustainable from a social, economic on environmental perspective.

Currently, 75 percent of global material consumption is based on non-renewable resources, since the extraction, transport, processing, and disposal of these resources imply an enormous impact on the environment, climate, and biodiversity.

Wood-based products can assist with climate change mitigation by storing carbon, as the report shows, while also helping to avoid or reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the materials they substitute for, such as concrete, steel, plastics, and synthetic fibres.

High-level hybrid event to increase the momentum

Our future is unthinkable without the goods and services produced by forests. Covering about one-third of the Earth’s surface, forests provide clean water and air, timber, fuel, food. The sector employs at least 33 million people and billions of people benefit from the goods and services produced, remarked Dongyu Qu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

He was speaking at the opening of the ceremony of the International Day of Forests 2022, held in a hybrid form at the Swedish Pavilion at EXPO 2020 in Dubai and broadcast simultaneously on the web.

However, the global area of forests has been shrinking in the last decades … today, only twenty-five percent of total material demand is met by biomass, including wood, the remainder by non-renewable resources, Qu said, adding that we need to take action.

High-level participants at the ceremony included Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment, Egypt, UNFCCC COP27 Presidency, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia, Beth MacNeil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Forest Service, Vice-Chair of the FAO Committee on Forestry, Jaana Husu-Kallio, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, and Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden, Commissioner General of the Swedish Participation at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Effective problem-solving requires the involvement of all stakeholders, collaboration across disciplines and sectors, consideration of local contexts, and the use of the best available scientific knowledge, said John Parrotta, President of IUFRO, the global network for forest science cooperation, which jointly organized the ceremony with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Choose Sustainable Wood for People and Planet

The theme for International  Day of Forests 2022, annually decided upon by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, is: “Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption”, and FAO has adopted the accompanying slogan “Choose Sustainable Wood for People and Planet.”

This highlights how forests can play a critical role in achieving more sustainable production and consumption, and thus achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and SDG 15 (Life on land).

This includes improving livelihoods, contributing to healthy landscapes and cities, and reducing the world’s carbon and material footprint. Forests also underpin sustainable agricultural practices and sustainable food production. In addition, new products are rapidly emerging from forests.

Global trends underpin the important role of forest-based innovations, advances in science, and collaboration across sectors and networks to accelerate the journey towards more sustainable lifestyles, sustainable forest ecosystem services, responsible communities, and industries. The IDF event will show possible pathways towards greener, more inclusive economies and stronger, more resilient societies also on a local level, said Fredrik Ingemarson, Director of the IUFRO 2024 World Congress.

Tree planting ceremony

Also on the occasion of the International Day of Forests, the FAO Director-General, the Appia Antica Archaeological Park in Rome, and other partner institutions symbolically planted 40 new trees donated by the Lazio Region, as part of the OSSIGENO project (OXYGEN) – an initiative to offset carbon emissions and protect biodiversity.

The event took place at the G20 Green Garden and was attended by Fabio Cassese, Director-General for Development Cooperation of Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sabrina Alfonsi, Rome city Councilor for Agriculture, Environment and Waste, Marta Bonafoni, Councilor, Lazio Region and Mario Tozzi, President, Appia Antica Regional Park.

The event was conceived as an opportunity to connect citizens, old and young, and raise awareness about the work that FAO and its partners carry out, including getting people to take action for a more sustainable world.

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