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International Day of Forests - Forests for Food - Food for Forests

International Day of Forests - Forests for Food - Food for Forests

20 March 2015
Palais des Nations Geneva Switzerland

This year UNOG, UNECE and FAO are hosting the annual “International Day of Forests” on 20 March 2015 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

This year’s celebration is dedicated to the theme of “Forests for Food – Food for Forests”.

The celebration consists of a series of events, including a Press Conference, the “Forests for Food – Food for Forests” Conference featuring two Roundtables, food tastings from the Italian San Francesco’s Woodland, the Opening of the “Learning from Forests” Exhibition, and the Forest Gala Reception with forest food from Finland, Germany, Poland, the Russian Federation and the United States of America as well as Swiss wine!

We are aiming to bring together a number of key experts and senior government officials from the forest sector, international organizations, academia, NGOs, gastronomy experts, and food and beverage industries to explore the links between forests and food security, as well as the impact of forests on the food industry and food industry on forests.

The “Learning from Forests” Exhibition will be featured in the Salle des Pas Perdus and will resemble a walk through the forest drawing our attention to their social, environmental, cultural and gastronomic benefits.

In honour of the International Day of Forests, the UNOG Cafeteria will be serving delicious forest-related and forest-inspired food during lunchtime. Make sure to benefit from this remarkable opportunity!

The International Day of Forests will also mark the launch of our new publication on “Forests in the ECE Region: Trends and Challenges in Achieving the Global Objectives on Forests” and a related infographic video.

For the invitation to the International Day of Forests 2015, please, click here.

Do not miss this opportunity and register for our special event in the section for “Registrations”.

With deepest gratitude for the support of:
The Russian Federation
The Swiss Confederation
The United States of America
Polish State Forest Agency
L'Ecole d'Horticulture de Lullier
Clean Forest Club, Switzerland
Fondo Ambiente Italiano
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Spain
UNOG Conference Services
UNOG Cultural Activities
UNOG Cafeteria (Eldora)
UNOG Gardeners
UNOG Security
UNOG Building Services
United Nations Jazz Band

Forests for Food – Food for Forests

Every year the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Food and Agricultural Organization celebrate the International Day of Forests in order to raise awareness on the role of forests in our society. Each year we choose a special theme to demonstrate how closely the forests are linked to different areas of our lives and to various sectors of the economy. This year's International Day of Forests will emphasize the synergies between the forestry sector and the food industry under the theme “Forests for Food – Food for Forests”.

Why forests and why food?

With a growing global population, much of the current discourse on food security is focused on increasing and expanding agricultural production at the expense of natural ecosystems. However, some studies suggest that we already grow enough food to feed the whole planet, and that food scarcity is primarily caused by inadequate distribution, a lack of purchasing power and other non-productive causes.

Nonetheless, forest ecosystems are still particularly affected by agricultural expansion. The exponential increase of such practices not only leads to a decline in the global forested area, but has detrimental and far-reaching consequences. It has a direct impact on soils, air, water cycle, biodiversity and finally on the CO2 sequestration potential, thus decreasing the mitigating effect on climate change. Furthermore, the expansion of cultivated areas reduces forests and tree-based agricultural systems that contribute to the livelihoods of a large part of the world population.

The expansion of large-scale food production mainly occurs in the tropical regions and does not affect the pan-European region directly. However, extensive agricultural expansion is often connected to trade policies and demand-driven businesses from the pan-European region.

With the issue of food security and nutrition high on the UN agenda, as well as in political and scientific circles, it is crucial to explore how the forests can contribute to a food secure and nutrition-sensitive world. Forests play an important role in this area through their abundant supply of berries, forest fruits, mushrooms, nuts, honey, herbs, leaves, saps, oils, syrups, fish, wild game, etc. They also provide enormous benefits by protecting soils, mitigating floods, purifying water and conserving biodiversity. Forests also serve as a source of inspiration for the world-renowned chefs and the gastronomic industry.

Many players from the food industry have already adopted sustainable business practices committing themselves to reversing deforestation, using forest products in a sustainable way, while enhancing food security and generating economic benefits. The gastronomic sector is also shifting its focus to more traditional and natural flavours and products.

What do we hope to achieve with this event?

The purpose for choosing the topic of “Forests for Food – Food for Forests” is to explore the link between the forestry sector and the food industry, which is often overlooked. We also wish to use this opportunity to be mindful of our eating habits, promote a more conscious food culture and aim to raise awareness on the socio-economic, cultural and environmental benefits of forests, non-wood forest products, and food in particular.

The social and cultural benefits of forests will be highlighted through the connection between forests, food and gastronomy and draw upon traditions, cultural practices and the everlasting heritage transferred from one generation to the other. The benefits of forest ecosystem services will be emphasized through the role forests play in maintaining soil, water and air quality. And finally the links between forests and food will showcase that incorporating sustainable business principles into forest-related food production can generate socio-economic benefits, jobs and profits. All these aspects will help people to better understand the multiple values of forests.

The cross-sectoral nature of the event will bring together a great number of key experts from the forestry sector, food and beverage industry, gastronomy, academia, international organizations, NGOs, press and media.

The theme “Forests for Food – Food for Forests” is especially timely, as it is in line with the theme of EXPO2015 “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The year 2015 will also be crucial for determining the future of our forests, as EXPO 2015 will be followed by the Post-2015 Development Agenda Summit in September and Silva2015 together with the Third European Forest Week in Engelberg in November with the main focus on the “Value of Forests”.

Press Conference

11.30 – 12.30 at Press Room III, Palais des Nations, Geneva

On the occasion of the International Day of Forests 2015 the Joint ECE/FAO Section launched its new publication on “Forests in the ECE Region: Trends and Challenges in Achieving the Global Objectives on Forests” at a Press Conference held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva at 11.30 am on 20 March 2015.

The study focuses on the social, economic and environmental aspects of forestry and the sustainability and financing of forest management. The report serves as a regional overview of forests within the Economic Commission for Europe at the 11th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in May 2015 in New York.

A presentation on the study was made at the 37th Joint ECE/FAO Working Party on Forest Statistics, Economics and Management.


Forests for Food – Food for Forests
14:30 – 17:30 at Room XIV (Cinema Room), Palais des Nations, Geneva


The Roundtables will be opened by Mr. Christian Friis Bach, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and Mr. Vladimir Rakhmanin, the Assistant Director-General and the Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia of the Food and Agricultural Organization. Mr. Hans Hoogeveen, the Director-General of Agriculture at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation of the Netherlands, will deliver a key note speech on the linkages between forests and food. It will be followed by words of welcome from Mr. Ivan Valentik, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and the Head of the Federal Forestry Agency of the Russian Federation.

The key experts from the forest-related agencies, international organizations, academia, NGOs, food and beverage industries and gastronomy, will come together to create a platform for discussing this initiative. The Conference will be divided into two thematic parts Forests for Food and Food for Forests.

During the Forests for Food roundtable, we will be discussing how forests contribute directly and indirectly to the food and beverage industry. We will be presenting the best practices of business leaders with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, planting new forests, maintaining biodiversity and improving forest ecosystems. The finest chefs will also share their insight on the role of forests in gastronomy and their potential in discovering new flavours.

During the Food for Forests roundtable, we will be discussing how our eating habits and food production impact the forests in the ECE region and beyond, the relationship between agricultural expansion and deforestation, and possible solutions to prevent deforestation and increase food security.

For the programme of the Conference, please, click here.


Forests for Food – Food for Forests Conference
14:30 – 17:30 at Room XIV (Cinema Room), Palais des Nations, Geneva

Forests for Food Roundtable


Ms. Ana Belén Noriega
Secretary General
Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Spain

Ms. Charo Val
La Alacena del Gourmet, Hotel Pachá, Ibiza
Author of the PEFC Recipe Book " Cuisine from the Forests " of the “Tastes of Sustainable Forests” Project


Mr. Josh Evans
Lead Researcher
Nordic Food Lab, Copenhagen, Denmark


Ms. Barbara Jax
Associate for Environment and Sustainable Development
Radeberger Group, BIONADE and Trinkwasserwald Association


Mr. Edward Danon
Representing the Ambassador of International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, UK
Senior Trader
Voicevale Ltd.


Mr. Luca Chiarini
Property Manager
Bosco di San Francesco
Fondo Ambiente Italiano



Food for Forests Roundtable  

Mr. Gerald Miles
Vice President of Global Development


Ms. Thais Linares-Juvenal
Senior Officer
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) Secretariat


Ms. Kaitlin Yarnall
Deputy Creative Director
National Geographic Magazine


Mr. Tom De Meulenaer
Chief Scientific Services
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)                  


Mr. Daniel May
Secretary General
Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP)


Learning from Forests Exhibition

Salle des Pas Perdus, Palais des Nations, Geneva
Kindly provided by the Polish State Forest Agency
In collaboration with the Swiss Clean Forest Club and l’Ecole d’Horticulture de Lullier
20 March – 16 April 2015

Opening of the Exhibition: 20 March 2015 from 18:00 to 19:00

It has become a tradition for the UNECE and FAO to organize a forest exhibition at the Palais des Nations on the occasion of the International Day of Forests. This year the International Day of Forests will be celebrated on 20 March 2015 with a special theme: Forests for Food - Food for Forests. The Opening of the Exhibition will take place from 18:00 to 19:00 on 20 March 2015.

The exhibition, entitled “Learning from Forests” will be featured in the Salle des Pas Perdus at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 20 March to 16 April 2015. It is organized in partnership with the Polish State Forest Agency, the Swiss-based Clean Forest Club and l'Ecole d'Horticulture de Lullier. The Polish State Forest Agency will provide showpieces that visualize the multiple values and functions of forests and their essential role in our society. It will allow visitors to experience forests in an interactive way. The showpieces from the Polish forests will be surrounded by 110 living trees supplied by l'Ecole d'Horticulture de Lullier in partnership with the Clean Forest Club. At the end of the exhibition all trees will be donated to the United Nations and planted on the UN Premises.

The Learning from Forests Exhibition will resemble a walk through the forest and will recreate the forest ecosystem with examples of its biodiversity.

The exhibition will feature six thematic areas related to Polish forests:

  • General characteristics of Polish forests;
  • Biodiversity;
  • Wood as ecological material;
  • Tourism and recreation;
  • Forest education;
  • Nature protection.

It will allow the viewer to interact with the exhibition pieces and understand the vast social, economic and environmental benefits provided by forests.

Thus the purpose of the exhibition is to spread awareness about the social, environmental, and cultural benefits of forests and how important it is to cherish forests and manage them sustainably. In order to emphasize this, the exhibition will be open to a wide audience - from school students to professionals, to government leaders. We all have a role to play to contribute to sustainable development.

The exhibition will resemble a walk through the forest

Forest Gala


19:00 at Hall XIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva

The Forest Gala will take place in the evening of 20 March 2015 on the International Day of Forests.

Our distinguished guests will have an exceptional opportunity to get a taste of forests, to try unique creations inspired by forests, to enjoy a special musical performance, to dance and to learn more about the “Forests in the ECE Region: Trends and Challenges in Achieving the Global Objectives on Forests” as we launch the publication and view a short related infographic video. For more information on the publication, please, visit our website.

The organization of the Forest Gala would not have been possible without the generous support of the following countries:

  • Finland;
  • Germany;
  • Poland;
  • The Russian Federation;
  • The Swiss Confederation;
  • The United States of America.




For the infographic video on “Forests in the ECE Region: Trends and Challenges in Achieving the Global Objectives on Forests”, please, click here