The Seoul Forest Declaration calls for shared responsibility over forests across institutions, sectors, and stakeholders.
It stresses that “[i]nvestment in forest and landscape restoration globally must be at least tripled by 2030” to implement global commitments and meet internationally agreed targets and goals.
A Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood and a youth call for action are also among the main outcomes of the Congress.
Delegates at the 15th meeting of the World Forestry Congress (XV WFC) called for immediate action to protect forests, forestry, and forest stakeholders as providers of nature-based solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, hunger, and poverty. They encouraged “actions for a green, healthy and resilient future with forests” as a contribution to the SDGs, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized by the Korea Forest Service (KFS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), XV World Forestry Congress took place in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 2-6 May 2022. Convening in a hybrid format, the Congress brought together representatives from governments and public agencies, international organizations, the private sector, academic and research institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community and Indigenous organizations.
The main outcome of the Congress – the Seoul Forest Declaration – conveys urgent messages on sustainable forests. The Declaration calls for shared responsibility over forests across institutions, sectors, and stakeholders. It stresses that “[i]nvestment in forest and landscape restoration globally must be at least tripled by 2030” to implement global commitments and meet internationally agreed targets and goals.
The Declaration underscores the need for sustainable production and consumption supported by policies that “foster innovative green financing mechanisms to upscale investment in forest conservation, restoration and sustainable use.” It recommends transforming the building sector by using legal, sustainably produced wood, which can “provide renewable energy and innovative new materials” and support the “move towards a circular bio-economy and climate neutrality.”
The Declaration also highlights the role of healthy forests in preventing future pandemics and supporting human well-being, and calls for innovative technologies to enable evidence-based decision making and effective communication on forests and landscapes.
The WFC Bulletin by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) notes that the main outcomes of the Congress also include:
- detailed action proposals following the six sub-themes of the Congress, namely: 1) reversing deforestation and forest degradation; 2) nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation; 3) green pathways to growth and sustainability; 4) forests and human health; 5) managing and communicating forest information, data, and knowledge; and 6) enhancing management and cooperation;
- a Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood; and
- a youth call for action.
Key events included: the launch of FAO’s State of the World’s Forests 2022 report; the High-Level Roundtable on the Peace Forest Initiative (PFI); the Ministerial Forum on Financing; the Ministerial Forum on Sustainable Wood; the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Dialogue; two full-day forums on forest fires and on private sector investment; the launch of the Assuring the Future of Forests with Integrated Risk Management (AFFIRM) Mechanism for fire management; and the Sustaining an Abundance of Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) initiative.
Special events on investing in young forestry professionals and career development, on forests in a post-COVID-19 world, and on sustainable forests and green energy also convened. The Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award 2022 went to Cécile Ndjebet, African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests.
The XV World Forestry Congress convened ahead of the 17th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 17) meeting in New York, US, from 9-13 May 2022. [ENB Coverage of XV World Forestry Congress] [WFC Summary of XV World Forestry Congress]