Every year on 24th January the world marks the International Day of Education whose goal is to celebrate the role of education for peace and development. This year’s theme was “to invest in people, prioritize education” with a call for maintaining strong political mobilization around education and chart the way to translate commitments and global initiatives into action. Education is one of the key areas of Forest Europe’s work with the Work Stream on Forest Education and Green Jobs striving to raise awareness about FOREST EUROPE’s contribution to the forest policy process at the Pan-European level, capacity building and showcasing green jobs in the forest sector. The workstream’s activities and goals are aligned with the need for having skilled personnel to adapt European forests to climate change and managing society’s increasing demands for forest ecosystem services.
To mark this important day, FOREST EUROPE hosted students and lecturers from the Tropical Forestry Master’s Programme (International Forest Governance & Multilateralism-Chair of Tropical and International Forestry) who were on an International Forest Governance Course Excursion to international organizations in Bonn focusing on forests and climate. They learned how FOREST EUROPE as a Pan-European voluntary high-level political process contributes to the development of common strategies to protect and sustainably manage forests while also offering a platform for intergovernmental dialogue and cooperation. Our institutional structure is made up of 45 European states and the European Union as signatories, while observers comprise of 14 countries and 45 organizations. Roundtable Meeting (RTM), Working Group and Advisory Group are some of the tools used for strategic debate while Expert Group and Workshops or Webinars are for technical debates.
Thomas Haußmann also highlighted the significance of FOREST EUROPE’s policies on forests which have a far-reaching impact even at the international level. Some examples presented include the definition of the pan-European concept of Sustainable Forest Management in 1993, the guidelines, criteria and indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. The five editions of the “State of Europe’s Forests” (SoEF) report have provided comprehensive information on the status and trends in forests and forestry in the pan-European region, based on the criteria for SFM with the current edition (SoEF 2020) produced in collaboration with the FAO and UNECE. Since its inception, Forest Europe has developed 22 Ministerial Resolutions, 2 Decisions and 2 Declarations.
The next question in the students’ minds was how they as youth could be involved in FOREST EUROPE’s activities. Since the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) is one of our partner organizations, the students could be Head of the FOREST EUROPE Sub-Commission (one of the IFSA official positions under the International Policy Commission). Forest Europe also organizes webinars and workshops targeted at students e.g. Forest Education in Africa and Europe Workshop. The Youth Forest Policy Days was also another novel project where Forest Europe partnered with IFSA to expose students to the international forest policy process by bringing experts on relevant topics, such as sustainable forest management, deforestation, landscape restoration and forest finance, to share their knowledge while also providing real-life examples of their work. The students can also join any of the three sub-groups in Work Stream 3 (Analysis, Transition and Communication/PR) or participate as observers in our events. We also provide content for the TreE-Learning Platform by IFSA and the latest course by FOREST EUROPE is available here. The Grow Green Jobs Campaign showcased endless new job opportunities in the forestry field for young people interested in working in the sector. We are exploring more ways of bringing the youth on board including in the next Ministerial Conference in 2024.
Another question the students were eager to learn more about was the desired skill set of a forestry professional required by our institution. Juliet Achieng informed the students that the importance of subject-specific skills, human relationships, leadership and other generic competencies, communication, research and data management and general academic competencies have increased over the last ten years and will continue to be important to the near future. More information is available from these studies: Green Forest Jobs in the Pan-European Region, Trends in forest-related employment and tertiary forest education, Global Assessment of Forest Education and the Global Outlook on Education.
We at FOREST EUROPE appreciate the interest of the students in our work!