By Kevin Lee
The opening ceremony of the 15th World Forestry Congress was held at COEX in Seoul on May 2, kicking off its five-day run until May 6.
The opening ceremony started with a welcome speech by Minister Choi Byeong-am of Korea Forest Service, followed by the opening speech of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on video and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) PR ambassador Princess Basma Bint Ali of Jordan. As a youth representative, President Magdalena of the International Forest Students' Association (IFSA), gave an opening speech.
The opening ceremony was concluded with keynote speeches by FAO Secretary-General Qu Dongyu and President Moon Jae-in.
Meanwhile, the 15th World Forestry Congress held in Korea this time is expected to be the largest convention ever.
It is expected that 10,000 attendees will visit the general meeting venue, exceeding the 7,000 attendees of the 13th General Assembly, which recorded the largest number of participants in history.
This was made possible by attracting many overseas participants through financial support for low-income national participants, along with active publicity through major overseas media such as New York Times Square and the London Piccadilly signboard, CNN, and BBC, despite the difficulty in attracting participants due to the spread of COVID-19.
Since March, the complete revision of quarantine-related guidelines has made it possible to hold large-scale international events without restrictions, and since April, entry quarantine for those who have completed overseas vaccinations is exempted.
The general meeting will be carried out in various programs such as the whole meeting, sub-meetings, special meetings, sub-meetings, networking events, exhibitions and poster sessions and it will be completed after the closing ceremony on May 6.
In particular, Korea-led forest fire forum and the Peace Forest Initiative (PFI) roundtable will be held to share Korea's excellent forest policy with the world through special events. Korea Forest Service plans to solidify Korea’s position as an advanced forestry nation by announcing the results.
In a welcoming speech, Minister Choi said, “The 15th World Forestry Congress establishes the role of forests for resolving the climate crisis, and everyone can agree on the importance of forests for the recovery and reconstruction of mankind and restoration of natural ecosystems after COVID-19.”
He added, “If the world can create an actionable vision and expand the field to strengthen forest cooperation through this general meeting, a green and healthy future created with forests will become a reality, not a dream.”