The Congress, held in early May, was co-organized by the Korea Forest Service and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FSC hosted and participated in several successful events, met with stakeholders and members, and showcased the importance of certification in “building a green, healthy, and resilient future with forests.” This theme of the of WFC directly links to the vision put forth in FSC’s Global Strategy 2021-2026 of resilient forests sustaining life on earth.
The Seoul Forest Declaration was adopted by the Congress, asserting that forests and associated stakeholders have nature-based solutions to crises including climate change and biodiversity loss and stating that urgent action is necessary to create a circular bioeconomy and contribute to climate neutrality.
The Congress also initiated the Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood, which calls for scaling up sustainable wood-based pathways, including increasing awareness and use of sustainable wood and driving innovation in sustainable forest management and wood value chains. FSC’s director for Asia Pacific, Cindy Cheng, participated in a plenary session on the importance of sustainable wood.
Youth empowerment was a major focus of the WFC, resulting in the Youth Call for Action, which envisions inclusive and equitable access to forest education and improved career development opportunities for youth. FSC engaged in outreach efforts with leaders of youth organizations at the Congress and discussed how we can build partnerships that empower and amplify the voices of youth within the organization.
Among the many events in which FSC took part, a highlight was a panel for young forest professionals, where Director General Kim Carstensen provided insights from his career, emphasized youth’s potential for impact, and noted that an increased focus on the intangible values of forests will expand opportunities for young professionals. Emphasizing youth’s potential opportunity for impact, Kim told participants, “Your obligation is to take an active role; our obligation is to listen.”
Sustainable investment was another major topic of discussion. In a panel which highlighted FSC certification as an attractive and increasingly necessary factor for businesses and investors, Kim spoke about topics such as making certification more accessible to smallholders, approving ecosystem services claims, and responding to the needs of the market.
FSC participated in additional events about collaboration with Indigenous communities, engagement with the Government of Gabon to ensure sustainable forest management, and forest and landscape restoration. FSC colleagues also submitted a series of papers, posters, and videos, which the WFC published online.
The holistic view of the WFC fully aligned with FSC’s Global Strategy, reinforcing the value of the solutions FSC offers. As governments, NGOs, and foresters deepen their understanding of the tangible and intangible values of forests, FSC is not only at the forefront of the sustainable wood sector but is also expanding its offerings to meet and drive demand with increased transparency in value chains and with instruments such as the Ecosystem Services Procedure and the upcoming restoration toolbox.