Durban Declaration: 2050 – The Third Millennium of the World Forestry


Forests and People: investing in a sustainable future

Monday the 7th of September marks the starting of the XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC), the largest convention of forests in the world. This time it is on African soil, the South African. More than 3500 foresters and forest supporters gather, share their expertise and experiences from around the world; various cultures, ethnicities are gathered around one common voice. How to sustain the people and preserve the forests? What could be the take home recipe for solving this dilemma?

The Congress is foreseen as crucial and a key occasion, as the world will be entering a new development era with the adoption of the post-2015 sustainable development goals and the Conference of Parties for the convention on Climate change.

The Congress will be the first global forestry event after this, and it can therefore play a pivotal role in helping to define a sustainability roadmap.

Five days of interactive discussions, effective transfer of knowledge, where information is channeled to the world. Processes, problems, various issues, are to be raised, solutions were broached, and promoted but no single recipe has been broadcasted.

The Roadmap to Durban

The IVth World Forestry Congress comes ahead two important international events with important landmarks to impact the future of the planet, its people and its resources.

What thoughts can we offer for discussion on the table? What we want for the future of our forests? What future we want for our people? The people of the forests.

The organizers, FAO and the South African Government have pulled up resources to engage the consultation process of stakeholders’ way before the Congress with the aim to build a new vision – a new way of thinking and acting – for the future of forests and forestry in sustainable development at all levels.

A consultative process is put on track involving forest-sector stakeholders at the global, regional and national levels, FAO’s regional forestry commissions, officials in the host country, and FAO staff, as well as the international Advisory Committee for the XIV WFC. Key elements for the new vision for forests and forestry were identified in the lead-up to the XIV World Forestry Congress.

Discussing forests and forestry reveals key challenges that need to be further explored and would present important food for thought during the Durban congress, identifying a contained set of key aspects as to help focus Congress deliberations: Food security, livelihood of the people, community development, and integrated system of land uses in relation to sustainability and climate change.

The inputs of Congress participants are the way to identify the seeds for investing in the future. All Congress participants are able to engage in the process by making their voices heard at plenary sessions, sub-theme sessions and special events to reach consensus views.

Forest and sustainable development: the way through

The approach to sustainability is of major importance. Is it the forest, the people, the resources, the trees? What about the climate change? How the forests could contribute to mitigating the effect of the climate change? How would this impact the forest people?
A new way of thinking and acting – a new vision for the forests and the forestry sector is paved. The important dimension to retain is sustainability.

What is sustainability? Around 140 definitions are found for the present word. How sustainability is foreseen from the forest and the forestry perspective?

Investing in forests and forestry is about investing in the people and their livelihoods, especially the rural poor, youth and women. In turn, this is investment in sustainable development and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Durban: The way forward

All thoughts collected, views recorded, opinions registered, the XIVth World forestry Congress held in Durban from 7th to the 11th of September 2015 is expected to compile the information, the opinion and the best practices into three main synthesis documents. These documents are to become important landmarks in the forests and the forestry sector.

The A new vision – a new way of thinking and acting – for the future of forests and forestry in sustainable development at all levels. A compiled document which will include, inter alia, conclusions and recommendations collected throughout the congress sessions and discussion themes and subthemes representing the consensus views of the Congress.

A statement, with clear message on the role of forests in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), directed to delegates at the UN General Assembly and other relevant bodies and processes.

One voice for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on the role of forests that can play to contribute to the new climate-change regime.

Three important landmarks are spotted for the African partner. It is of no doubt that the XIVth World Forestry congress marks a new beginning for the forest and the forestry sector. Pushing forward the recommendations and conclusions of the congress is no doubt the way to instigate the new millennium of the forests of the people; a sustainable future to be traced in partnership with others.

A one voice one message is turned to thousand voices for one message.

At that point, the message is to be heard at all levels, all congresses and international fora. At that time, only then, sustainability is pursued and livelihood is secured and people are equitably served.

Read more on FAO website

Blogpost by Patricia R.Sfeir – patricia.sfeir(at)
Picture courtesy: Forests Communication Network

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