Forests, people and sustainable development

July 13, 2015


The central theme of the XIV World Forestry Congress is Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future. The aim is to show that investment in forestry is an investment in people and, in turn, an investment in sustainable development.

The programme of activities will encompass a week of technical sessions and special events, side events and round-table discussions on six thematic areas covering all key aspects of forests and sustainable development.

The Congress will be a key occasion to gather, share expertise and experience, and highlight the many benefits that forests provide.

Sessions on six sub-themes will highlight the role of forests in sustaining life, acting as buffers against environmental change and inspiring new technologies and products, as well as the need to integrate forests and other land uses and to improve forest monitoring and governance.

A dynamic Congress

The Congress will feature an impressive line-up of key speakers including ministers and high-level representation from the African Union Commission and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests as well as from the private sector.

The technical programme boasts over 800 technical papers, posters and videos on a wide range of forestry topics, which have been submitted by people around the globe, and some 180 side events.

Paving the way to a new climate change agreement

The Congress will issue a series of key outcome messages geared towards strengthening the role of forests and forestry in sustainable development. These messages will underscore forestry’s contribution to the implementation of the new post-2015 agenda, and help pave the road to a new climate change agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Paris in December.

Focus on special events

A series of pre-Congress and special events will take place throughout the Congress and in the days immediately before the event. Here are just a few:

Pre-Congress event: Research Symposium on Underpinning sustainable tree plantations in Southern Africa (4 September 2015)

Come early for this one-day pre-Congress symposium, which will showcase the depth and breadth of forestry research across South Africa and highlight how research provides innovation, knowledge and technology to influence policy and strategic decision-making.

The symposium will also provide an excellent opportunity for South African and international participants to engage in dialogue, heighten collaboration and grow partnerships. Keynote and invited speakers will highlight research initiatives from across the country’s forest research community and the critical role of research in supporting decision-making at all levels across both public and private sectors.

Special event: International Forests and Water Dialogue (8-9 September 2015)

Forests use water, but they also provide water. As global demand for fresh water rises and water grows scarcer, we need to balance trade-offs between the ecosystem services provided by forests and trees and forest-induced changes in water availability.

Why forests and water?

  • One in six people do not have access to safe drinking water
  • 80% of the global population live in areas where water resources are insecure
  • More than 1.3 of the world’s major cities rely on drinking water from forested areas
  • While demand for fresh water is rising, supply is growing scarcer

Join this special event to see the finalization and launch of a Five-year Forests and Water Action Plan, which calls for action in the areas of science, policy, economics and forest practices.

3 August 2013, Cartago, Costa Rica - A waterfall in a  wildlife natural park.

Special event: Wildlife Forum (9 September 2015)

Sign up for the Wildlife Forum to address challenges and opportunities in sustainable wildlife management! This special event will showcase the experiences of countries, organizations, indigenous peoples, local communities and the private sector in addressing poverty alleviation and livelihood security issues while safeguarding the world’s rich and diverse wildlife.

Organized by the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management, the Wildlife Forum will focus on:

  • community-based management and governance
  • wildlife crime and legality issues
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • bushmeat, food security and livelihoods

Everyone attending the Congress is welcome.

Young people - get involved!

Giving young people a voice is one of the highest priorities of the XIV World Forestry Congress. There is no sustainable future without investing in the new generation. The Congress provides an opportunity for young people to build bridges between sectors, regions, cultures and generations, and to brainstorm ways to improve the management of natural resources. It is also an opportunity to remind all stakeholders that investing in education and meaningful engagement furthers the common good: sustainable development and peaceful co-existence. Young people are encouraged to attend and contribute to all Congress sessions as well as three dedicated youth sessions:

  • 6 September 2015: Youth orientation meeting - Setting the stage
  • 7 September 2015: Workshop - Building bridges: halt forest loss through cross-sectorial approaches
  • 8 September 2015: Special Event - Forests for the future: the role of youth engagement and education

Post a picture in the We love forests photo gallery

Young people around the world are showing their love for forests by posting pictures of themselves hugging trees, posing with trees or kissing a tree. All you have to do is post a picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and tag it #Forests2015 #Y4Forests2015. Photos from around the world are featuring on an online gallery and will also be shown at the Congress!

YOUTH TREE web pic

Showcase your forestry projects on the #Forests2015 blog

The #Forests2015 blog provides a platform to showcase forestry projects, visions and ideas ahead of the Congress. Anyone can submit a blogpost: students can describe their work and field experiences, researchers can illustrate their findings, farmers can submit stories on how they converted research into practice, and policymakers and advocacy groups can showcase the projects they have implemented. Blog posts received before 31 July 2015 will also be automatically entered into the #Forests2015 blog competition, with some great prizes up for grabs.

For more information on how young people are getting involved – and how you can sponsor youth presence at the Congress as well as a global mentoring legacy programme – visit

Calling all architects – enter the TREEHOUSING International Wood Design Competition

The TREEHOUSING International Wood Design Competition challenges architecture students, professional architects and designers to develop innovative and sustainable wood housing and urban building solutions for a growing world population. A grand prize of $6,000 USD as well as second and student prizes will be awarded in each of two categories:


TREEHOUSING GLOBAL: Affordable Wood Housing

Canadian architect Michael Green, author of The Case for Tall Wood Buildings, will lead the jury, and winners will be announced at the XIV World Forestry Congress.

Visit for more information.

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