Celebrating forests for sustainable development

Forests are essential for the survival of people everywhere. They are also at the heart of sustainable development. In 2012, the UN General Assembly declared 21 March as the International Day of Forests to “celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests”. A wide range of special events will celebrate the International Day of Forests 2014.

Nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fuel, shelter and medicine. The International Day of Forests is an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate their unique personal relationship to forests and trees in their communities.

As policy makers deliberate on defining the post-2015 UN development agenda, the Day further provides an opportunity to highlight the vital role of forests in providing economic safety nets for the poor and vulnerable, in food security and nutrition, in public health, in the provision of freshwater and in building resilience of communities.

During the month of March 2014, the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFF) in UN DESA, will arrange a series of activities to celebrate the International Day of Forests at UN Headquarters in New York. The celebrations will feature a week-long series of screenings of award-winning forest films, a two-week exhibition of award-winning forest photographs and children’s art and a special half-day event on 21 March, which will be broadcast live via UN Web TV.

Special event: International Day of Forests 2014

The special event on 21 March, taking place at 10 am – 1 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters, will feature a panel discussion highlighting inspiring women who are making a difference for forests and sustainable development, as the 2014 International Day of Forests coincides with the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58).

Thought leaders, from forest heroes to film makers will share their inspiring stories of action for forests and sustainable development. The UNFF Secretariat awarded Forest Hero awards in 2012 and 2013 to celebrate “unsung heroes” who champion efforts to sustain, protect and manage forests. Film clips and film makers from the 2011 and 2013 international forest film festivals will also provide a compelling visual journey to diverse forests, as part of the event.

Forests photo and art exhibition

The two-week exhibition of award-winning forest photographs and children’s art will be on display on 17-28 March at UN Headquarters. The International Forest Photograph Award was launched in 2013 by the UNFF Secretariat in UN DESA to honor efforts that visually capture the unique connection between forests and people everywhere. Over 400 entries from 39 countries competed to win. Young students vied with professional nature photographers to showcase a personal and often extraordinary perspective of forests. The exhibit features 21 winning photographs.

In 2011, as part of the celebrations of the International Year of Forests, the UNFF Secretariat partnered with the Gabarrón Foundation to hold an international children’s art contest, with the theme of “Celebrate the Forests.” The contest challenged children and youth between the ages of 5 to 14 to use the power of imagery to increase awareness of the many benefits of forests. Over 300 children’s paintings from 27 countries competed in 2011 contest. The exhibit features 8 posters of winning paintings.

In addition, the exhibit will also feature posters of the 2013 winners of the Forest Heroes awards (from Brazil, Rwanda, Thailand, Turkey and the United States), and International Forest Short Film festival.

Forest Film Festival screenings

Film screenings, to be held from 17-20 March at 1:15-2:30 pm at UN Headquarters, will provide a window to unique and personal stories of how forests underpin sustainable development around the world from the unique biodiversity of the Amazon, to inspiring stories of landscape restoration in China and Rwanda.

The curated films from the 2011 and 2013 UN International forest film festivals feature community leaders who have inspired change through innovative approaches to afforestation and reducing land degradation. The film festivals were organized by the UNFF Secretariat in collaboration with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, to honor the creative efforts of filmmakers who visually capture what forests mean to people.

UN DESA’s United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat was designated by the General Assembly to facilitate the implementation of the International Day, in collaboration with FAO, Governments, and other members of the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests and international, regional and subregional organizations as well as relevant stakeholders, including civil society.

Visit the website of the UN Forum on Forests for more information on the International Day of Forests

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