ROME — International Day of Forests 2021 celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests across the globe.
While the Day itself falls this year on Sunday, 21 March, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) marks the day on Friday, 19 March with a high-level online ceremony starting at 11 AM CET.
The theme for 2021 is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being.”
Forests cover just over 30 percent of the global land area, yet they provide habitat for the majority of the terrestrial plant and animal species known to science. Unfortunately, forests and the biodiversity they contain continue to be under threat from actions to convert the land to agriculture or unsustainable levels of exploitation, much of it illegal.
The International Day of Forests ceremony opens with an address by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu – who is expected to underline the links between healthy forests and healthy people and speak on how restoring forests will improve our environment, and potentially create green jobs.
Other speakers will echo some of the Director-General’s themes – including Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Ali, of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who will speak on how every tree counts to restore forest biodiversity.
Claude Nyamugabo Bazibuhe, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will speak on the imperative to regreen all continents.
Andrea Meza, Minister for Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, will call for further engagement and empowerment of people everywhere to sustainably use forests for positive change.
Forest restoration for the well-being of people and the environment will be addressed by Malik Amin Aslam, Advisor on Climate Change and Environment, Pakistan and Marieme Bekaye, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Mauritania, will speak about restoring degraded lands at a huge scale.
A final address will be given by Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner, International Partnerships, European Commission, who will speak on the European Green Deal and the role of forests globally.
Closing remarks at the ceremony will be delivered by Mette Løyche Wilkie, the Director of FAO’s Forestry Division, and Ismahane Elouafi, FAO’s Chief Scientist, will launch an afternoon of in-depth technical discussions.
The entire Forest Day ceremony will be moderated by Fiona Harvey, environment writer, The Guardian newspaper (UK)
On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national, and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns – and this year is no different. This year’s observance takes place during this the first year of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which focuses on scaling up actions that use forests to increase landscape resilience and restore productivity for the benefit of all.
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