Building the ground for future collaboration
May 5, 2022 – At the XV World Forestry Congress (WFC), the AFoCO team met the WFC delegates of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) to share ideas and build the ground for future collaboration. As a non-political and non-profit organization that is entirely run by students, IFSA is one of the largest international networks of students in forestry and related sciences. IFSA’s core is its network of students but the organization is also involved in the international sector and provides learning opportunities to forestry students. IFSA is a globally organized and locally operated students’ organization connecting forest and related science students to their peers and forest-related organizations and policy platforms. With 133 member associations, also known as local committees (LC), spread across over 50 countries, IFSA unites thousands of students in their endeavor to learn about forests, cultures, and the environment. Recognizing the importance of engaging youths as future leaders in the sector, a dialogue meeting between AFoCO and IFSA on the occasion of WFC was proposed and arranged by internship trainee, Ms. Lee Yeji, who is also serving as CIFOR/YIL Commissioner of IFSA to raise awareness between the two organizations and explore future partnership opportunities. Ms. Yang Juyoung, an internship trainee of AFoCO, assisted with the preparation of the meeting and served as the MC.
As the meeting organizer, Ms. Lee opened the session by providing an introduction of AFoCO, its member countries, and key milestones. Following the presentation on AFoCO, IFSA delegates took turns to introduce IFSA and their work.
- As the first presenter from IFSA, Simone Massaro, IFSA’s Executive Secretary and focal member, presented general information about IFSA’s vision and mission, its strategic goals, geographical coverage, and partners. An example of projects where IFSA is engaged is the EFI-IFSA-IUFRO Capacity Development Project on Green Jobs. It investigated the transforming employment trends in the forest sector from students’, universities’, and policy makers’ perspectives.
- Isabelle Claire, IFSA’s Internal Councilor, elaborated on how the organization operates by showing the IFSA organizational structure. Among the departments she showed is the Internal Department, which consists of the Communication Commission and Capacity Development Commission. Following that, she elaborated on capacity-building activities like ‘IFSA-TreE-Learning,’ ‘Job fair,’ ‘Joint IFSA-IUFRO Task Force on Forestry Education,’ ‘ Language School,’ and ‘Cultural Day.’ The Internal Department also strives to strengthen the teamwork and rapport within the IFSA community and connect 133 Local Committees in seven regions into one.
- Aditi Mishra, IFSA’s external Councilor, described the external structure of IFSA. The external department consists of the ‘International Policy Commission’ and ‘Partners Commission’ with many sub-commissions from its partners. The ‘International Policy Commission’ includes processes that enable IFSA to participate at a higher level surrounding the partners such as UNFF, UNFCCC/UNCCD, UNCBD, UNEP, and Forest Europe. The ‘Partners Commission’ has the eight Sub-Commission Heads who act as liaisons between IFSA and the partner organizations. She also explained about two partners in Asia — RECOFTC and ITTO. Following them, AFoCO can also be internationally involved in the Asia-Pacific region. The external department works hard to create opportunities for forestry students across the globe to be involved in international events and organizations.
- As the last presenter from IFSA, Elivis Omoit from Uganda, the Head of CIFOR/YiL Sub-Commission, specified IFSA’s collaboration with the partners by giving the example of CIFOR and YIL. He explained his work as a part of the Steering Committee of YIL and his experience leading the delegates in the annual Global Landscape Forum events. Also, the Youth in Landscape Initiative collaborated with IFSA by participating in internal events such as the global IFSA Job fair, where there were openings for jobs and internships. Additionally, CIFOR-ICRAF has supported IFSA with access to experts on different topics who have shared their knowledge and experience during webinars organized by IFSA.
Mr. Ricardo L. Calderon, Executive Director of AFoCO, welcomed IFSA delegates and acknowledged IFSA as a well-organized student organization. He encouraged students to look beyond the classroom and seek opportunities to engage in practical training, develop technical skills, and network with forestry professionals. He went on to highlight the importance of taking on internships to apply what they have learned and gain valuable work experience before embarking on a career. He further stated that youths could influence authorities through their collective power and voices, and he also expects AFoCO to expand opportunities for youth involvement. In closing, ED emphasized that targeting similar goals and developing more collaboration ideas are essential for developing and progressing in partnership between the two organizations.
The meeting was a meaningful time for both AFoCO and IFSA to learn about one another and both sides are optimistic about future partnership and collaboration. Following the first AFoCO-IFSA meeting, more ideas and opportunities to cooperate and grow together will be explored.
Contributed by Lee Yeji, Intern