The Asia Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) and Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (APFW 2019) were held at Incheon, the Republic of Korea during 17-21 June 2019. This was one of the largest and most important forestry gatherings in the Asia-Pacific region. The events were co-hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Korea Forest Service (KFS). APFC is one of the six regional forestry commissions established by FAO to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss and address forest issues at the regional level. APFC is composed of 34 member countries, and its sessions are attended by the member countries and invited international organizations as observers.
APFW 2019 is an open forestry gathering in the Asia-Pacific region which is conducted every four years in conjunction with the APFC session. The overall theme this time was “Forests for peace and well-being”, reflecting the positive dimensions of forestry and the need to proactively integrate forestry into the wider context of the environment, society, and sustainable development, under which economic, social, human, and cultural dimensions are also considered.
The events witnessed the participation of organizations from different parts of the world and collaborators including government, civil society, research, academia, and the private sector. Plenaries, dialogues, sessions, seminars, workshops, field trips, canopy room events, cultural shows, and much more were organized among various other events to discuss the issues faced by the forestry sector.
The Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) participated in the APFC and APFW 2019 from 17 June to 21 June 2019 along with the Member Countries, International and Regional Forestry organizations. NCCF was represented by Mr. Sachin Jain, Convener-Founder, NCCF, and Mr. A.K. Srivastava, Executive Director, NCCF.
NCCF representatives made valuable remarks in the plenary sessions: 1. Forests for Peace and Well-being: Towards a Brighter Future, 2. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Accelerating the Forestry Contribution and 3. Journey to 2030: the Future for Forestry in Asia and the Pacific, highlighting the contribution of forest certification as an efficient tool to promote SFM, REDD+, SDGs, NDC commitments as also the objectives of various international commitments under the UNFCCC, UNCCD, and UNCBD, etc.
NCCF also attended all the events organized by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and made a meaningful contribution to diverse issues related to forest certification, particularly in the context of India.
PEFC organized a session, Development of Synergies between PEFC and Other Initiatives such as FLEGT Utilizing Experience in ASEAN, as part of Stream 4: Promoting Responsible Trade and Markets of APFW. There were discussions on the emerging trends in trade, markets, and consumer behavior of timber and non-timber forest products as well as forest ecosystem services. The primary focus was on: ensuring the sustainability of forest products (timber and non-timber); empowering community enterprises; promoting smallholder interests; exploring forest investment opportunities; improving synergy between FLEGT and other initiatives; developing integrated forest management approaches; and enhancing transparency in managing agricultural systems in forests.
A need was felt that India should also have a mechanism like FLEGT to ban the import of illegal timber, if any, and to encourage the use of certified wood and wood products.
An important highlight of the APFW was the launch of the Third Asia-Pacific Forest Sector Outlook Study. Mr. Thomas Hofer, Senior Forestry Officer, FAO, Regional Office, Asia, and Pacific in his closing address, highlighted the take-home messages which were prominently discussed in the Outlook Study: “The theme of APFW, Forests for Peace and Well-being, recognizes that the issues of forests go beyond forestry and that forests have a fundamental role not only on bringing benefits to the society but goes deep down to healing bodies and reducing stress at an individual level.”
The APFW 2019 concluded with the robust recommendation that forests are key to delivering on the SDGs, NDCs, and meeting objectives of various international commitments under the UNFCCC, UNCCD, and UNCBD, etc. We need to promote forestry beyond the forests, with their contributions to addressing key challenges such as water security, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk management, biodiversity conservation, combating desertification, enhancing health and well-being of people, and promoting peace.