XV World Forestry Congress Theme

24 - 28 May 2021 Coex, Seoul, Republic of Korea

The XV World Forestry Congress will provide a crucial opportunity for the global forestry community to consider the state and future of world forestry, particularly in the context of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Congress will showcase the essential role of forests in the global sustainable development agenda – comprising, among other things, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Forest Goals (GFGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – and it will identify key measures and recommendations for enhancing this role. The Congress will help ensure that forests are an integral part of discussions and decisions on sustainable development because of their importance for the health, well-being and stability of the planet and its peoples. It will also highlight progress in the implementation of the recommendations made at the XIV World Forestry Congress in 2015.

The theme of the XV World Forestry Congress is:

Building a Green, Healthy and
Resilient Future with Forests



XV World Forestry Congress sub-themes and topics

The six sub-themes of the XV World Forestry Congress set out below, address the most important current issues concerning forests and the products and services they provide. The sub-themes also enable the review of progress in implementing the outcomes of previous congresses, especially the Durban Declaration, and the advances being made towards a sustainable, resilient future. In particular, the sub-themes address:

  • the importance of containing and reversing forest and tree-cover loss in attaining multiple global goals;
  • forests’ role in addressing global environmental challenges, including climate change and biodiversity conservation;
  • the important contribution of forest products and services to national economies and strategies for enhanced financing in the sector;
  • the use of forest resources to improve livelihoods, health and well-being;
  • ways to improve forest monitoring, data collection and knowledge management; and
  • enhancing multistakeholder partnerships and cooperation for the improved management and utilization of forest resources.

Indicative topics are listed under each sub-theme to facilitate the preparation of sessions. This list should not be considered exhaustive.

1. Turning the tide: reversing deforestation and forest degradation

This sub-theme will discuss progress in and opportunities and priorities for addressing deforestation and forest degradation. The implementation of recent global commitments and the operationalization of major initiatives, including that of the UN Secretary-General on turning the tide on deforestation, the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, will form part of the discourse. The sub-theme will be directly relevant to SDGs 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 and 15 and GFGs 1, 2 and 4.

  • Global framework to combat deforestation and restore forest ecosystem
  • SDGs, UN Strategic Plan for Forests and GFGs, Paris Agreement, post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, New York Declaration, REDD+, and the Durban Declaration

  • Addressing the drivers of deforestation and degradation
  • Transforming agriculture, food systems and other land uses
  • Combating illegal trade of forest products, including wildlife
  • Divestment from deforestation, and pro-green incentives for responsible land use
  • Innovating deforestation-free commodities and value chains
  • Rural development initiatives to reduce pressure on forests
  • Assessing the real cost of deforestation and forest degradation

  • Improving forest governance
  • Effective policies and institutional and legal framework
  • Integrated land-use planning
  • Land degradation neutrality as a tool for forest governance

2. Nature-based solutions for climate-change adaptation and mitigation and biodiversity conservation

This sub-theme will discuss the potential of forests to provide nature-based solutions that deliver climate-change adaptation and mitigation while supporting biodiversity and securing ecosystem services. Nature-based climate change adaptation and mitigation and biodiversity conservation, contribute to the increased importance of forests. The post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is expected to set out an ambitious plan for broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity. The sub-theme will review the advances being made on reducing deforestation and forest degradation through REDD+, and plans for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which will contribute to efforts to combat climate change and safeguard biodiversity. The sub-theme will be directly relevant to SDGs 1, 2, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 and 15 and GFGs 1, 2 and 4.

  • Climate-change mitigation and adaptation
  • Adaptation planning and implementation (National Adaptation Plans, National Adaptation Programmes of Action)
  • Advances in mitigation approaches (e.g. REDD+, forest-based biofuels, Nationally Determined Contributions, Long-term Low Emissions Development Strategies)
  • Reducing risk and increasing resilience (e.g. forest fires, forest health, disasters, early warning)
  • Focus on restoration in support of mitigation and adaptation
  • Maximizing the co-benefits of adaptation and mitigation

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural/land-use sectors
  • Sustainable use and equitable access and rights to forest biodiversity
  • Adaptive and integrated management approaches
  • Managing genetic resources (incl. seed banks)

  • New avenues beyond 2020
  • The post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: ambitious new goals and framework for action
  • Supporting climate-change mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity conservation in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

3. The green pathway to growth and sustainability

This sub-theme will focus on the vital economic functions of forests and trees, including in the provision of goods and services, such as food, income, employment and ecosystem services, which are necessary for advancing inclusive and sustainable economic development. It will also address technological advances, broad initiatives to change systems of production and consumption, and the financial mechanisms currently in place and that will be needed to trigger change and sustain the sector. The sub-theme will be directly relevant to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 17 and GFGs 2, 3 and 4.

  • Forests and sustainable economic development
  • Forests in a green/bio- and circular economy
  • Legal and sustainable wood and non-wood product supply and value chains
  • Managing the economic and business impact post-COVID-19: opportunities to build back better
  • Green jobs in the forest sector – decent work incentives
  • Recognizing and supporting the role of the private sector, including forest-farmer producer organizations, small and medium-sized enterprises and indigenous communities
  • Nature’s wealth – valuing and enhancing forest ecosystem goods and services, including through payments for ecosystem services, water, ecotourism, recreation

  • Innovation in the forest industry
  • Shock-proofing the forest industry against disasters
  • Innovation in the forest sector: new products
  • The role of new and disruptive technologies

  • Financing for forests
  • Existing mechanisms for financing sustainable forest management (SFM)
  • [Re]aligning fiscal policies for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Blended finance, incl. climate finance
  • A value-chain approach to forest finance
  • Responsible investments and innovative financing for smallholders and family farmers
  • Financing for ecosystem services

4. Forests and human health: revisiting the connections

This sub-theme will discuss the reliance of the global population either directly or indirectly on forests for their livelihoods and general health and well-being. The sub-theme will also address forests as a source of refuge food and funds in times of conflict, and efforts to promote peace in forested areas. The sub-theme will be directly relevant to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15 and 16 and GFGs 1, 2 and 5.

  • Forests securing livelihoods
  • Forests for food security and poverty alleviation
  • Sustainable and resilient food systems (incl. mountain ecosystems, pastoralism, agroforestry)
  • Secure tenure, rights and access to resources
  • Forests and trees supporting inclusive rural development
  • Safety and security of forest workers

  • Forests, human health and well-being
  • Forests, human health and well-being
  • Medicinal plants for human health
  • People and wildlife: conflict and coexistence
  • Forest loss and disease transmission: reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Green infrastructure to improve urban life and livelihoods in cities

  • Forests for social inclusion and peace
  • Forest and conflicts (resolution and management)
  • Forests and forced migration
  • Forests as safety nets
  • Social protection for forest communities, incl. indigenous peoples, women, youth and peasant workers

5. Managing and communicating forest information and knowledge

This sub-theme will discuss the need for sound scientific research and information based on innovative monitoring techniques to support forest policy deliberations. It will also examine how best to enhance collaboration between science and policy and to better communicate forest issues to a wide range of audiences. The sub-theme will be directly relevant to SDGs 9, 13, 15 and 17 and GFGs 1, 4 and 6.

  • Forest monitoring and reporting
  • Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2020, Remote Sensing Survey)
  • Forest-sector statistics
  • National forest monitoring: opportunities and new technologies
  • International reporting on forests (incl. the Global Core Set, criteria and indicators)

  • Forest education, research and information
  • Forest education and a new generation of foresters
  • Innovative approaches for linking forest science and policy
  • New data to support new approaches
  • New frontiers of forest research
  • Valuing and protecting scientific and traditional knowledge
  • Citizen science

  • Managing and sharing/disseminating knowledge
  • Knowledge management tools and techniques in forestry
  • Communicating effectively within and outside the sector
  • Enhancing access to forest information and data

6. Forests without boundaries: enhancing management and cooperation

This sub-theme will draw attention to forests in the context of landscape dynamics and the multisectoral coordination and partnerships required to achieve meaningful SFM. The sub-theme will be directly relevant to SDGs 1, 2, 6, 13 and 15 and GFGs 1, 2, 5 and 6.

  • Managing forests in a broader landscape
  • The contributions of SFM to achieving the SDGs
  • New directions in SFM, including new technologies, machinery and equipment
  • Vulnerable ecosystems: highlands (mountains), drylands, peatlands, mangroves
  • Forest management challenges facing indigenous peoples and local communities

  • Promoting cooperation at all levels
  • Effective measures/practical ways for improving inter- and intrasectoral cooperation
  • Aligning policies, resources, incentives and information
  • Improving national and local coordination mechanisms to streamline actions
  • Benefits and challenges of transboundary cooperation

  • Hand in hand: harnessing existing and developing new partnerships
  • Strengthening all forms of international cooperation
  • Enhancing public–private sector collaboration
  • New coalitions between large and small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Multistakeholder partnerships to promote decentralization and strengthen family farmers, indigenous peoples’ groups, and local communities