Forest Day 5 in Durban

Lennart Ackzell reports from UNFCCC’s COP17

In every Climate change COP meeting a Forest Day is arranged with high level speakers from policy and research. This year with over 1200 participants from 86 countries.

The human oriented approach was very welcome!

The interaction between people and forest and also forest and agriculture became evident. The charismatic South African Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson cited Nelson Mandela in her opening speech and emphasized that forest is much more than CO2 and that people are dependent on the forest from various functions such as food, medicine, energy, building material, culture and better livelihoods. This human oriented approach was very welcome and in contrast to those who want to deny peoples use of the forests.

A tribute to the Noble Prize laureate Wangari

During the plenary session a tribute was made to the Noble Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, who deceased earlier this autumn. Her Green Belt Movement is about involving local people in managing the forest resources, including planting and the right to the tree value. REDD+ with a big + was evidently supported.

Agriculture needs a sustainable intensification

Among the researchers, Bob Scholes from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, underlined that agriculture needs a sustainable intensification if people are to be fed and deforestation to be halted. In 14 years there will be another billion people on earth.

Forest and the Green Economy

FAO’s Assistant Director General Eduardo Rojas, stressed the importance of forest in the Green Economy and this was sent as an important message for Rio+20. A CLI in Bonn added to this a sensible five point program about the contributions of forests to the green economy.

Better livelihoods and poverty eradication

The Forest Day was closed by the UNFCCC General Secretary Christiana Figures. She concluded that even though slow progress was made a new element was added to the negotiations. Better livelihoods and poverty eradication was added as a third leg to mitigation and adaptation.

A complete report from UNFCCC’s COP17

Please download Lennart Ackzells excellent report with more pictures from the meeting below.

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Text and foto: Lennart Ackzell, International coordinator, the Federation of Swedish Family Forest Owners