My experience at the 14th session of United Nations forum on Forest (UNFF14)

On the 8th of April 2019, I appeared at US consulate General in Chengdu China for visa interview with much pressure as it was quite challenging to get an US visa. However, I crossed the milestone with good news and was on my way already. I was super excited to join IFSA team at UNFF14. It was a long flight of around 15 hours from China to USA and finally arrived at JFK.

IFSA delegates 1st meeting

The UNFF14 core team consisted of 12 members and I was surprised to see some old faces like Maxmillian, Lisa and Erica along with some friends from IFSA. We had finished our introduction followed by a detailed planning of the whole week for UNFF14. We separated into different groups, each assigned to a task for UNFF14. I was in group where we had to look over the social media. We decided to meet next day at 8am, with strong precaution of not to forget the passport. 

UNFF14

On the 6th of May we met in front UN HQ with fresh faces and a truck load of motivation to learn and have fun. Steffen introduced us the different sections of the building as it was necessary for security reasons, where to go and where not to. The UN headquarters was really an amazing place decorated with numerous of portraits, scripters which I found out to be amazing.

From 6th to 10th May the United Nation Forum on Forest (UNFF) convened in New York started the 14th session to discuss global forest issues and contribution of forests to 2030 Agenda of UN and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to the delegation of 193 different countries, the children and youth of the world were represented by Major Groups Children and Youth (MJCY). I was engaged with MGCY and one of the 12 representatives of the Youth in this UN process. Throughout the week we were involved in several bilateral meetings with countries as well as youth activities and policy interventions.

The youth are not only major stakeholders, but more than 50% population of the world are of the age of 35years and the majority of workers in the forest and agricultural sector is youth, but they also have their own individual work plan to implement the United Nation Global Forest Goals and Sustainable Management. At the meeting, they introduced us to the work plan as well as the progress made throughout the year. Among other events, workshops on forest and landscape restoration, cross sectoral approached which connect various stakeholders , as well as for the international day on forests on 21st March, they conducted so called “World Cafés” in more than 15 different locations all over the world. Within the setting, students and professionals discussed current and future challenges they are facing in the sector as well as weak spots in their current university curricula. In total, hundreds of students were engaged directly and thousands online. Hence, one of the main key points which I found was very important from this meeting was that IFSA provides a platform where students not only learn but get international exposure and gain intercultural experience.

My recommendation would be that all youngsters should be encouraged, especially youth from developing countries to join IFSA and contribute to it through their unique skills In turn, they not only gain the experience of working in a team and a multicultural environment but also gain a wider understanding of how forestry happens in different countries all over the world.  I am very much sure that IFSA is the right platform where you can polish your skills and learn what you have ever dreamed.    

The article is written by Muhammad Ayaz (President LC-Aup Pakistan). He is from Islamic Republic of Pakistan has just completed his master degree in soil and environmental sciences at college of resources and environment, Northwest A&F University China under Chinese government scholarship program. You can contact him at [email protected]

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