Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

10th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF10) “Forests for People” Awards Ceremony

Distinguished Guests,

In 2011, we celebrated the first-ever International Year of Forests. This provided an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness about Forests for People through innovative communication media.

It was the first time the United Nations Forum on Forests tapped into the transformative power of art, film and relatable human stories to engage global public action for forests, and the people and communities that depend on them. 

The first International Forest Film Festival and Forest Heroes Awards were truly ground-breaking. They provided a launching pad for today’s Forests for People awards. These now include photography as one of the creative mediums through which stories of people’s relationship to forests can be shared. 

Raising awareness about the many benefits of forests is critical. Their role as a vital natural resource that underpins poverty eradication, conflict and climate change in the post-2015 process cannot be over emphasized.

The United Nations General Assembly designated 21 March as the International Day of Forests. I recently had the privilege of launching the very first International Day of Forests in Beijing, at a tree-planting ceremony in the Tongzhou District.  It was a unique platform to raise awareness about forests and their vital contributions to sustainable development.

Today’s event is a celebration of both the importance and beauty of forests, through inspiring heroic stories, cinematic art and stunning visual images.  It is a vital reminder of the intricate and complex relationship between forests and people, the central theme of all three awards. 

The winners of these awards are remarkable individuals who have been working to make a difference through community activities, film, or photography. 

Their stories serve as inspiration to us all. Any meaningful debate on forests is drawn from the lessons we learn from people-centred approaches and community, and national-level action. The fate of forests truly rests in the hands of people.

Distinguished guests,

It is estimated that more than 1.6 billion people, nearly a quarter of the world’s population, depend on forests for their livelihoods and subsistence needs.

Over the past two days Ministers and other high-level representatives have emphasized how forests directly contribute to economic development by providing jobs, income, and vital goods for families and communities.

Your films, photos and heroic stories illustrate in a very personal way why we are here. We are counting on you, as experts, leaders, artists and change-agents who care about forests, to help us continue to inspire action for forests.

Thank you.