A key conference year for tropical timber

While the pandemic may effect scheduling and the form they take, 2021 is set to be an important year for international conferences with interest and potential impacts for tropical timber and forestry sectors.

World Forestry Congress

With dates yet to be set after postponement from May, the World Forestry Congress in Seoul will address the state and future of forests globally and efforts to achieve sustainable development goals in the context of recovery from Covid-19. It will look to define the role of forests in the 2030 global development agenda and other policy frameworks, such as the Paris Agreement and Global Forest Goals. It also aims to identify measures needed for the forest sector to contribute to the post-pandemic objective to ‘build back better’.
“Forests must be an integral part of discussions and decisions to be made on sustainable development, because this will determine the health, wellbeing and stability of the planet and the people,” state the organisers.

Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity

The fifteenth meeting of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China, rescheduled from last October to the second half of 2021, will see adoption of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Billed as a ‘stepping stone towards the 2050 UN Vision of “Living in harmony with nature” ’, the goal is to mainstream biodiversity into national development plans worldwide. The draft framework sets out five long-term biodiversity goals for 2050 and 20 targets to achieve by 2030. Among the aims are to reduce extinctions and increase endangered species populations. It also sets a goal for nature to contribute ‘at least [30%] of efforts to achieve targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change’. Deforestation and its related climate impacts will, of course, be central to discussions. How ambitious decisions here will be remain to be seen, with some countries reported to be resistant to forest-related targets that restrict agriculture.

Carrefour International du Bois

The Carrefour International du Bois is scheduled to take place from May 26-28 at the Parc Beaujoire in Nantes, France. The biannual event is billed as Europe’s leading exclusively timber trade exhibition and the last show attracted 11,500 visitors from 85 countries and 563 exhibitors. The STTC and ATIBT/Fair&Precious are set to contribute to the conference programme.

IUCN World Conservation Congress

A core theme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Marseilles from September 3-11 will also be ‘nature-based climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts’. “The full potential of the world’s natural carbon sinks and reservoirs that can contribute to a climate-resilient and biodiversity-rich future has yet to be unlocked,” states the IUCN. “This will require strengthening institutional and governance capacity for ecosystem planning and management. Policy and decision-making may require trade-offs to optimise benefits for biodiversity, climate change and other relevant sectors.”

UN Climate Change Conference

Among the topics of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1-12 will be ‘green recovery’; taking the opportunity of reconstruction from pandemic to move to a lower environmental impact global economic model. “While we focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the Coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the challenges of climate change,” said Conference President UK MP Alok Sharma. “The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean, resilient recovery.”

In the lead up to the Conference, the COP26 and Tropical Forest Alliance have launched the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogues project. The aim is to accelerate  transition towards more sustainable land use practices and create ‘new opportunities for investment, jobs and livelihoods in forests, land use and agriculture and to ensure economies have a sustainable relationship with forests’. As part of this, multi-stakeholder consultations involving representatives of all parts of the forest and forest products supply chain are convening to feed their views into government to government  meetings. The tropical forest sector is urging that sustainable forest management and sustainable tropical timber production form part of discussions as vital to ensuring forest maintenance.