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Seoul Forest Declaration


World Forestry Council UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


World Forestry Council: Context

  • Recently, the XV World Forestry Congress, held in Seoul, South Korea adopted the Seoul Forest Declaration identifying priority areas with potential to lead to a green, healthy and resilient future.


About World Forestry Council

  • The World Forestry Congress is held every six years.
  • The theme of World Forestry Council was Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future.
  • It was hosted by the Republic of Korea and co-organized with FAO.
  • It was the second congress held in Asia, with Indonesia hosting the first Congress in Asia in 1978.
  • The gathering drew more than 15 000 participants from over 140 countries either in person or online, in the first event of its kind since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Seoul Forest Declaration

  • The congress adopted the Seoul Forest Declaration with a key focus on how forests can help combat the multiple crises humanity faces, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, hunger and poverty.


Priority areas of action

  • Since forests transcend political, social and environmental boundaries, it is imperative that responsibility for forests should be shared and integrated across institutions, sectors and stakeholders.
  • According to the Declaration, investment in forest and landscape restoration globally needs to triple by 2030 to meet internationally agreed commitments and targets on restoring degraded land.
  • The Declaration also states that emphasis should be given to move towards a circular bioeconomy and climate neutrality.
  • The Declaration called for innovative green financing mechanisms to upscale investment in forest conservation, restoration and sustainable use, and highlighted the potential of sustainably produced wood as a renewable, recyclable and versatile material.
  • Healthy, productive forests must also be maintained to reduce the risk of future pandemics and to provide other essential benefits for human physical and mental health.
  • The Declaration also urged the continued development and use of emerging innovative technologies and mechanisms to enable evidence-based forest and landscape decision-making.


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Inclusivity and cooperation

  • To address challenges like forest management that transcend political boundaries, Congress has launched new partnerships such as the Assuring the Future of Forests with Integrated Risk Management (AFFIRM) Mechanism, and the Sustaining an Abundance of Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) initiative.
  • The outcomes of the Congress, which also included the Youth Statement on Forests and the Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood, will be transmitted to the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP15), taking place this week, as well as the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the Conventions on Biodiversity (CBD) and Climate Change (UNFCCC), and other important fora.


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