Countdown to the XIV World Forestry Congress

August 26, 2015

Wood For Livelihood Ethiopia: Dorze woman traveling through the mountains of Entoto carrying a load of 6 meters and 40 kg of eucalyptus branches and leaves to sell at the local market. XIVWFC 2015 Forests and People photo competition entry from Tsigie Befekadu. Image © Tsigie Befekadu

In less than a fortnight the XIV World Forestry Congress (XIV WFC) will be taking place for the first time on African soil since its inception in 1926. From 7-11 September 2015, Durban South Africa will be hosting game-changing dialogues critical for a sustainable future, bringing scientists, environmentalists, researchers, architects, photographers, economists, professors, engineers, ecologists and many more experts from around the globe together. The Congress is set to be 2015's most engaging and dynamic forestry event...

Next month Durban's International Convention Centre (ICC) will host a diverse XIV WFC programme based on the theme: 'Forests and People: Invest­ing in a Sustainable Future.' In an attempt to bring forestry into the mainstream and explore solutions to the global crisis, the Congress will bring the world’s foresters, forest supporters, youth leaders and the public together to share expertise and experiences in order to re-envision the future as we enter a new era in development.

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South Africa's Secretary General to the XIV WFC, Trevor Abrahams speaking at the pre-XIV World Forestry Congress regional meeting in Bangkok, July 2015.

The opening of the XIV WFC kicks off on 7 September with cultural performances and addresses by esteemed leaders to welcome the world to South Africa and Durban, specifically. Opening the Congress will be South African President – Jacob Zuma, Mr Edward Senzo Mchunu – The Honourable Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, HRH Prince Laurent of Belgium – Special Ambassador to FAO for Forests and the Environment and the Prince Laurent Foundation, as well as HE Senzeni Zokwana – Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries South Africa; among many other local and international leaders.

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Community forest members, indigenous peoples and smallholders from Asia gathered in Bangkok in July 2015 to ensure their views are heard in the upcoming XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban.

The main theme, 'Forests and People: Invest­ing in a Sustainable Future', aims to demonstrate that investment in forestry is an investment in people and, in turn, an investment in sustainable development. The programme is packed with activities and the week will host numerous technical sessions, special events, side events and discussions exploring six crucial sub-themes being:

Sub-theme 1: Forests for Socio-economic Development and Food Security
Sub-theme 2: Building Resilience with Forests
Sub-theme 3: Integrating Forests and Other Land Uses
Sub-theme 4: Encouraging Product Innovation and Sustainable Trade
Sub-theme 5: Monitoring Forests for Better Decision-Making
Sub-theme 6: Improving Governance by Building Capacity

South Africa's Secretary General to the XIV WFC, Trevor Abrahams (middle) at the pre-XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC) regional meeting in Bangkok, July 2015.

South Africa's Secretary General to the XIV WFC, Trevor Abrahams (middle) at the pre-XIV World Forestry Congress regional meeting in Bangkok, July 2015.

The Congress will bring the world to South Africa with over 200 visiting speakers from countries such as Indonesia, Nepal, Sweden, China, Ghana, Tanzania, Guatemala, Australia and many more. The week long Congress will host the likes of Mr Paulo Adario – Senior Forest Strategist at Green Peace International, Ms Tanya Abrahamse – Chief Executive Officer of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Ms Elizabeth Backteman – State Secretary of the Ministry for Rural Affairs Government of Sweden, Ms Susan Braatz –Senior Forestry Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as well as youth speakers Charles Batte (Uganda), Sekar Ayu Woro Yunita (Indonesia), Jossio Guillén (Panama) and many more thought leaders from almost every curve of the planet!

Forests are vital to millions of livelihoods around the world, food-security, clean-water, our entire eco-system and our very existence.This Congress is the most important forestry-related dialogue to take place this year. Let the countdown to a sustainable future begin...

"Our forests play a significant role in terms of poverty eradication through job creation, economic growth and supply of basic needs... The theme for the Congress puts the peoples of the world at the heart of forests and I sincerely trust that the meeting will yield the desired objectives including that of ensuring a sus­tainable future for the forests..." – Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries South Africa.

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Check out the XIV WFP 2015 Programme here, download the timetable here, view the list of speakers here. Follow the XIV WFC on Facebook and search or post the hashtag #‎Forests2015‬. All the info you need can be found on the XIV WFC website at: webapps.daff.gov.za. Start scheduling your itinerary!

*Images © supplied by WFC and RECOFT

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