The summit will gather government ministers, industry leaders, scientists and activists from around the world to identify common ground, and discuss mechanisms for forest stakeholders to work together differently.
Forests play a crucial role in the world's economy, but they are also essential to our global survival. They are home to 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, sustain the planet by providing 40% of the world's oxygen while absorbing almost one third of its carbon emissions.
Yet forests are under threat. Tropical forests are disappearing due to agricultural demand, illegal logging and fuel use, while forest degradation is at critical levels everywhere. Ironically, the urbanised world depends on forests, but it also destroys them-and the mismatch between incentives to protect, exploit or destroy forests is growing.
Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) who will speak at the summit, highlights that "We need to upscale encouraging examples of countries that have turned the tide, reverting deforestation as a crucial contribution to combating climate change, overcoming poverty and improving the environment."
There is an urgent need for international collaboration on sustainable forest management. Otherwise, just as we begin to understand their real value, forests will no longer be able to support us.
"Not only is active, sustainable forest management key to combating climate change; it will also provide one of the leading renewable resources for the products and services in the future bioeconomy." says Jan Johansson, Chief Executive Officer and President, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget.
James Astill, The Economist's Political editor, and author of The Economist's special report on Forests, will chair the debates, featuring high-profile names including Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, Director, International Climate and Forest Initiative, Ministry of the Environment, Norway; Karl Falkenberg, Director General, DG Environment, European Commission; Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, Ikea Group; Fabio Schvartsmann, Chief Executive Officer, Kalbin; Henrik Ehrnrooth, Chairman, Pöyry; Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification; and Mario Boccucci, Head of Secretariat, UN-REDD Programme amongst others.
Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research, will deliver a keynote speech at the summit, on the need for a new "landscape" approach to the sustainable development of rural areas in which conservation, land use and development are not pitted against each other.
"Forestry has too often been defined in terms of what it can stop rather than what it can create. As long as we continue to measure the contributions of forests solely against the benchmarks of ending deforestation and limiting climate change, we will be blind to the much wider benefits that forestry can bring to sustainable development. It is time for forestry to come out of the forest," he said.
The summit will assemble a leading group of experts from around the world to identify common ground between the private sector, policymakers, NGOs and scientists, in order to agree on new approaches to working with each other.
"The world's forests are essential to keeping our planet habitable. Deforestation not only degrades the environment, but also stands at 20% of all global carbon emissions." says Henrik Ehrnrooth, Chairman of Pöyry. "A huge opportunity exists to explore reforestation on a massive scale, reversing the destructive trend whilst delivering economically viable benefits to society from bioenergy and shelter to agricultural development."
Is the Nordic forestry model an example worth copying in other parts of the world? And how can deforestation in places like Russia, Brazil and Indonesia be stopped? The table is set for a heated debate, with critical voices from business, politics and environmental organisations across the globe.
The World Forests Summit is organised by The Economist, part of The Economist Group. The premium sponsor is SCA, with Pöyry as supporting sponsor.