The celebrations of this year’s International Day of Forests under the theme ‘forest restoration – a path to recovery and well-being' remind us of forests’ remarkable health benefits, crucial for our life on this planet – as providers of fresh air, nutritious foods, clean water, sources of medicine and shields against zoonotic diseases.
Regarding the economic recovery from the pandemic, as Pradeep Kurukulasuriya writes in this newsletter, the cost of reducing deforestation to prevent the spread of novel pathogens is substantially lower than the economic cost of responding after the fact.
With COP26 and new initiatives such as the Green Gigaton Challenge, 2021 could be the turning point for forests and climate change – if we act together, as multiple voices pointed out at FAO’s main IDF event. People across 50 countries also chose conserving forests as the #1 policy response to the climate emergency in the world’s biggest ever survey on climate change led by UNDP.
This is encouraging for our work to harness the full potential of forests for people and planet, and our new publications on collective tenure rights and institutionalisation of forest data cover crucial aspects of this pathway.
With the historic challenge of socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of us, UN SG Antonio Guterres calls on countries to ‘transform the global economy to be more sustainable, equitable, and resilient, so that all people can enjoy lives with dignity on a healthy planet’. Or as Richard Powers, author of The Overstory, puts it, “Trees stand at the heart of ecology, and they must come to stand at the heart of human politics”.
Happy International Day of Forests!