Forest Day, now moving into its fifth year, has become one of the most intensive and influential annual global events on forests. At its heart, it is a platform for anyone with an interest in forests and climate change to meet once a year to ensure that forests remain high on the agenda of global and national climate strategies, and that those strategies are informed by the most up-to-date knowledge and experience. Forest Day presents an opportunity for stakeholders from different backgrounds and regions to network, share their experiences and debate the pressing issues facing forests around the world.
"For some countries, Forest Day provides a rare chance to interact internationally, exchange knowledge and lessons learned on forests and climate change," said Felician Kilahama, Director of the forest division of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism, Tanzania.
Each Forest Day, which takes place annually on the sidelines of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, is designed to inform and engage world leaders, researchers, donors, policymakers, climate change negotiators, media, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples' groups and other forest-dependent people.
Forest Day 4 in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2010 was the biggest Forest Day yet. The President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, opened the event with an exciting keynote address to more than 1,500 participants from 109 countries. Among them were 260 UNFCCC climate negotiators and 100 journalists.
Forest Day 5, to be held in Durban, South Africa on 4 December 2011, will seek to inform the UNFCCC global agenda and forest stakeholders on ways to implement an international REDD+ funding mechanism that produces social and environmental benefits, above and beyond avoided emissions. The event will have a particular African focus, looking at the tropical forests of the Congo Basin and elsewhere, and the continent's wide expanses of dry forest areas.
The need for greater awareness of the latest research on Africa's forests is underscored by predictions that the continent will be hit hard by climate change. People in Africa are highly dependent on forests and there is a significant risk that the adaptive capacity of many forest ecosystems will be exceeded.
Organisers of Forest Day are now putting together a line-up of high-caliber speakers for the 2011 event and participant registration will open in August. For more information, email CIFOR-FORESTDAY@cgiar.org