The recent FOREST EUROPE Expert Level Meeting (ELM), held in Dresden, Germany, marked the opportunity for the first in-person gathering under German chairmanship since the pandemic. The meeting, attended by 59 delegates from 27 signatory countries, the European Commission, and 12 observer organizations, provided a platform for exchanging ideas, discussing future working modalities, and making decisions regarding the organization of the 9th Ministerial Conference next year in Bonn. The ELM produced fruitful results to set the course for future FOREST EUROPE efforts.
Rapid Response Mechanism: supporting the Ukrainian forest sector and its forests
The ELM acknowledged the full implementation of the Ministerial Decision to support the Ukrainian forest sector and its forests from August 2022, which was created within FOREST EUROPE’s rapid response mechanism to react to emerging issues of relevance. The ELM recognized the importance of Ukraine’s forests and the challenges they face due to the war and demonstrated a strong commitment to helping the country in recovering. ELM’s delegates also agreed to a smooth transfer of the work to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to ensure continued support and cooperation in the region.
The 2nd High-Level Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and resilience
The ELM delegates supported the organization of the 2nd High-Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD), which will be held in Berlin on November 9, 2023, providing a platform for policymakers, experts, practitioners, forest owners, students, researchers, and interested stakeholders to discuss how SFM can maintain and enhance forest resilience, from an environmental, social, and economic perspective. With a hybrid meeting format, the event aims to harness high-level speakers’ collective knowledge and experience to chart a path to a more sustainable future. Stay tuned to our social media for updates, or visit talks.foresteurope.org.
Think Tank on the dynamic concept of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)
The presentation of the ongoing efforts of the Think Tank about SFM highlighted the need to address gaps in current policy developments and emphasized the importance of developing tools and instruments to enhance SFM. The ELM recognized its relevance as a core activity of FOREST EUROPE. Additionally, forest monitoring was emphasized as a synergistic approach, and the importance of creating new narratives on SFM as a dynamic concept was underscored. The delegates’ opinion reinforces the significance of these efforts and sets the stage for future progress in SFM, monitoring, and reporting.
Preparations for the 9th Ministerial Conference in 2024
The meeting concluded with discussions on the preparations for the upcoming 9th Ministerial Conference (9MC), scheduled for October 1-2, 2024, near Bonn, Germany. As a significant event during the FOREST EUROPE signatory’s term, the conference represents the decision-making body of the process and marks the end of the German chairmanship. Ministers of signatory countries, renowned experts, and high-level representatives from observers’ organizations from the pan-European region will convene to discuss strategies and actions shaping the future of our forests. One key goal is to make the SFM concept fit for the future and to establish a Forest Risk Facility (FoRISK), to address forest risks, like climate change, forest fires, and biodiversity loss.
Green Jobs and Forest Education developments
The report on Green Jobs and Forest Education emphasized involving future generations and addressing challenges in shaping innovative pathways. Engaging policymakers is crucial in finding collaborative solutions to these challenges. The benefits and shortage of skilled personnel associated with Green Jobs and Forest Education were acknowledged, and the ELM offered guidance for future efforts in green job development and forest education.
Field trip on the second day after the conference
After being in a meeting room, an exciting field excursion took place to delve into the practical application of SFM in the State forests of Saxony, followed by a visit to the esteemed Campus Tharandt, one of the oldest forestry educational institutions worldwide, established in 1811.
What have we learned?
It is important to maintain the momentum and build on the results of this meeting. Collaborative efforts, sound policy frameworks, and proactive measures are critical to achieving the vision of SFM for the benefit of current and future generations. The ELM demonstrated what can be achieved when nations, international organizations, and NGOs join in their pursuit of a more sustainable future.