Green Milestones: AFoCO Shapes Sustainable Forestry at IUFRO 2024

Background

From June 23 to 29, 2024, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) held its 26th World Congress in Stockholm, Sweden. Themed “Forests & Society Towards 2050,” this prestigious event drew approximately 4,100 forestry experts from around the world, aiming to explore the role of forests in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. The Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) had the privilege of engaging in pivotal discussions with global experts on the future of forestry and sustainability, playing a significant role at the IUFRO World Congress.

AFoCO delegation played significant roles throughout the congress, focusing on diverse aspects of forest research and governance:

(Photo) Dr. Chongho Park, Executive Director of the AFoCO speaking at the IUFRO Global Delegation Round Table Meeting

Leadership Vision: Charting the Course for Regional Forest Governance

At the IUFRO 2024 World Congress, Dr. Chongho Park, Executive Director actively participated in the crucial session “Forest Governance in the Region – A Stakeholder Dialogue,” which addressed the global challenge of halting deforestation and degradation by emphasizing the need for regional, bilateral, and unilateral initiatives tailored to diverse local needs. This session built upon insights from the sub-plenary “International Forest Governance: A Comprehensive Global Review” and brought together perspectives from senior officials of regional forest governance institutions and experts from scientific and indigenous communities. The roundtable facilitated in-depth discussions on regional forest governance, during which the Executive Director highlighted the critical challenges faced in Asia, such as high forest degradation rates and the dependency of approximately 85.7 million people on forests for their livelihood. To address these challenges, the Executive Director emphasized the importance of providing stable incomes to forest-dependent communities, enhancing government functionality, and offering economic incentives like carbon credits. This interaction not only drew considerable interest from the audience but also underscored the role and significance of AFoCO 2025-2034 Climate Action Plan, which focuses on forest restoration, carbon sequestration, and promoting community-based forestry through various strategies. Overall, the session played a vital role in fostering a collaborative approach to forest governance globally, reflecting the urgency and importance of cooperation to address forestry issues.

(Photo) Speech session by AFoCO Executive Director, Dr. Chongho Park

Showcasing Innovation: AFoCO’s Initiatives on the Global Stage

During the IUFRO 2024 Congress, the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) showcased its major activities and achievements through an exhibition booth, playing a central role in AFoCO’s participation. By presenting various ongoing forest cooperation projects in Asian countries, success stories from member countries, and future collaboration opportunities, the booth served as a vibrant networking hub that attracted the attention of many attendees. Designed to reflect AFoCO’s milestones and mission of promoting sustainable forest management in Asia, the booth provided detailed information about AFoCO’s projects and activities, engaged attendees, and distributed visually appealing and informative promotional materials such as brochures, flyers, and souvenirs. This effort not only raised global awareness of AFoCO but also facilitated the establishment of new contacts with various stakeholders, garnered positive feedback, and strengthened AFoCO’s network, paving the way for new collaborations.

(Photo) From left: Ms. Youngju Han, Dr. Chongho Park, Mr. Kiwon Kim, and Ms. Soozin Ryang
(Photo) From left: Mr. Kiwon Kim, Ms. Rocio Danica Condor Golec of FAO, and Ms. Paula Sarigumba, AFoCO consultant
(Photo) Ms. Emily Marie Lim explaining AFoCO Strategy 2024-2030
(Photo) Ms. Youngju Han (right) introducing AFoCO

Advancing Forestry Sustainability and Conservation: Strategic Insights from AFoCO’s Projects and Research

At the IUFRO 2024 Congress, AFoCO contributed significantly with two presentation sessions, showcasing their extensive project and research in the forestry filed.

(Photo) Presentation session of Ms. Youngju Han

Ms. Youngju Han, Program Officer, Carbon Project Team, presented at the IUFRO 2024 Congress, focusing on the significant role of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in enhancing community livelihoods and fostering sustainable economic practices across Asia. This research, encompassing twelve countries including Bhutan, Cambodia, and Vietnam, outlines strategic approaches for resource sustainability, market adaptation, and innovation. It advocates for stronger regional cooperation to establish resilient and inclusive NTFP value chains that align with broader sustainable development goals, emphasizing the need for knowledge exchange and policy development to support these initiatives.

(Photo) Presentation session by Mr. Kimsrim SEAB

In a compelling presentation at the event, Mr. Kimsrim SEAB, Project Coordinator, delved into the intricacies of AFoCO’s project numbered 005, titled “Establishment of Forest Genetics Research Center for Restoration of Major Timber Species in Cambodia.” Highlighting a pioneering effort in the region, he detailed the creation of Cambodia’s first seed orchard, which focuses on three local species. He discussed the background, significance, and the achievements of the project, offering insights into how it contributes to local forestry and genetic conservation efforts. The audience engaged enthusiastically with Mr. Kimsrim’s presentation, offering a range of insightful questions and constructive feedback that underscored the interest and relevance of the project in advancing forestry and conservation goals.

Conclusion

The IUFRO 2024 World Congress served not only as a dynamic platform for exchange and learning but also as an opportunity for AFoCO to emphasize its deep commitment to global forestry issues. The participation of AFoCO went beyond mere attendance, bringing about change and providing AFoCO with a variety of ideas and insights that will aid in future development. This event has enriched AFoCO’s understanding and expanded its network, paving the way for new paths in collaboration and innovation for sustainable forest management. The diverse partnerships, stakeholders, and knowledge gained here will play a key role in further advancing AFoCO’s mission. AFoCO will continue to work towards a sustainable and verdant future, ensuring that its ongoing commitment to these goals will influence its actions and projects, shaping the legacy of the IUFRO 2024 Congress. Through this, AFoCO will further solidify its pivotal role in global forest dialogues.

Submitted by Kiwon Kim, Assistant Program Officer, Capacity-Building & Evaluation Team

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