Korea’s reforestation experience discussed at UNDP conference on Sustainable Development Goals

Mar 17, 2017

Participants at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Conference on Sustainable Forestry (Photo: UNDP Seoul Policy Centre)

On 24 February 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Seoul Policy Centre organized the “Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 Int’l Conference on Focusing on Sustainable Forestry” at the Holiday Inn in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

The workshop brought together around 120 domestic and overseas participants consisting of senior government representatives, UNDP practitioners, and academic and civil society leaders, including Korea’s National Institute of Forest Sciences; the Korea Forest Service; KOICA. UNDP speakers included experts from UNDP Geneva and Nairobi and UNDP Seoul Policy Centre.

The workshop facilitated policy dialogues and discussions to identify effective means to invest in the forest sector, using existing experiences of Korea and various developing countries, such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka; Nigeria and Bangladesh, as a reference point. Other countries represented at the int’l conference included Kenya, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Italy.

Korea is one of the few countries in the world to have a successful history of forest rehabilitation following World War II, together with Germany, the UK and New Zealand. In the early 1960s, about 56% of the land was covered with forests. Today, the number is 64%, an additional 840,000 hectares. In 2009 and 2014, Korea submitted national reports on sustainable forest management to the Montreal Process of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“Today’s conference not only considers how Korea managed its reforestation, but also looks at whether investment in reforestation makes financial sense by discussing the historical data on reforestation and avoided natural disasters,” said Balazs Horvath, Director of UNDP Seoul Policy Centre in his welcome remarks.

The Director of Global Forestry of the National Institute of Forest Science, Mr. Hyun Park, said in his opening speech: “The 17 SDGs are composed of 5 Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. The global family needs to pursue the virtues of coexistence and cooperation to survive in the future.”

The meeting provided an opportunity for international and Korean participants to share their concrete reforestation experiences and identify challenges and discuss effective strategies and opportunities for economically, socially and environmentally sustainable forestry management.  

The workshop is the third in a series of the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre’s SDG Conferences which were initiated in 2016. The earlier SDG Conferences focused on Goal 13 on Climate Action and Goal 11 on Sustainable Cities.

After almost five decades, UNDP closed its Country Office in 2009 as Korea joined the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and became an official donor. With this changed status of Korea, the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre for Global Development Partnerships was established in 2011, with the objective of brokering new partnerships between Korea and the developing world through UNDP’s global network with more than 170 offices in countries and territories.