“We know the forest, and the forest knows us. We manage a third of the world’s forests. We are, together, the world’s largest investors in forests. It is time to listen to us.”
So said forest and farm producers, indigenous peoples and smallholder family farmers of the world, during a weekend event held before the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa.
When looking at many global problems facing us all – climate change, food insecurity, poverty, inequality and loss of biodiversity, representatives of various producer organizations, associations and federations, agreed on their essential role, and how to meet the challenges ahead.
“We have the numbers. We have the knowledge.
We are a big part of the answer.
Engage with us as equal partners. Support us. Invest in us.”
The Building momentum pre-Congress meeting on 5-6 September 2015 gathered more than a hundred representatives and supporters of forest and farm producers, indigenous peoples and smallholder family farmers. Two days of lively debate then put the finishing touches to more than a year of constructive dialogue, resulting in a 9-point declaration. This is being taken to various corners of the World Forestry Congress, so the voices of those who live in and live off the world’s forests can be heard, with the aim that their views will be included in the final outcomes and in decisions on the way forward.
The decision to do this was made when forest and farm organizations met in China in 2013. With the support of the Forest and Farm Facility, and more than a dozen partner organizations, a series of six regional conferences in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and various dialogues and complementary initiatives took place. These gathered the views of thousands, who together, represent the voices of hundreds of millions of people who depend on forests at least in part, for their livelihoods. And as becomes ever-clearer, the world depends on them, at least in part, as custodians of forests for the benefit of us all.
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Tropenbos International is one of the partners in the Building Momentum initiative and a six-member delegation attended, from Ghana, DR Congo and the Netherlands. The latest edition of ETFRN News on Effective forest and farm producer organizations, was produced by Tropenbos International with support from the Forest and Farm Facility as part of this partnership, and key findings fed into the discussions. Tropenbos International played an active role in the steering committee and during the pre-Congress event itself as breakout group organizers and rapporteurs, and in finalizing the key messages.