The role of forests in sustainable development was on top of the agenda on Tuesday at an International Day of Forests event hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.
The 11th edition of International Day of Forests was also marked around the world.
One of the goals of Tuesday's event was to "ensure environmental health and healthy societies" by underscoring "how the protection and sustainable management of the world's woodland areas needs to be a top priority given their crucial contribution to livelihoods, nutrition, biodiversity and addressing the impacts of the climate crisis," the FAO said.
The Organization's Director-General Qu Dongyu called for greater international cooperation to protect the world's forests.
"We need to scale up and accelerate action, now, and together," said Qu, a former vice-minister at China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
"We need strong commitments from governments, international organizations, the public and private sector, civil society, academia, and each of us individually. We need to enhance forest restoration through sustainable forest management that provides benefits for people and the planet," Qu said.
According to FAO data, nearly 1 billion people globally depend on forests as a source of food and nutrition. Forests are an important buffer against extreme weather events caused by climate change, while also absorbing greenhouse gases. In addition, the biodiversity in forests helps develop cures for diseases.
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