Forests are at the heart of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – that was the key message that emerged in the 200 Days Countdown Event to the 15th World Forestry Congress.

The event, organised on 9 November by the Korea Forest Service, sought to draw international attention to the upcoming 2021 Congress in Seoul, themed, “Building a green, healthy and resilient future with forests”.

In a video message, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged nations to “take decisive action” on climate change, which is fuelled by forest destruction. He noted that “COVID-19 may be one of nature’s responses to the climate crisis.”

In his opening ceremony remarks Park Chong, the Minister of the Korea Forest Service, said: “Forests can be an imperative solution to the climate crisis…The world should work together to achieve sustainable development.”

Julius Chupezi Tieguhong, Chief Forestry Officer of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Centre, urged leaders to respond to the socio-economic impact of forest destruction. “This requires sustainable solutions at the local, national, regional and international levels,” he said.

“The effectiveness of desirable climate outcomes will be dependent on adequate allocation of human, financial and material resources, in which case, the role of multilateral development (institutions) cannot be underestimated,” he added.

As countries respond to challenges created by the pandemic, they are also recognising the opportunities such a crisis presents to shift the global development paradigm towards greater sustainability and greener, more inclusive economies.

Sustainable forest management can play a vital role in building resilient economies and societies that can withstand pandemics, climate change and other global challenges.

The World Forestry Congress, the largest and most significant gathering of the world’s forestry sector, is held every six years. It will take place 24 to 28 May 2021.

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