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UN FAO report outlines how wood-based products fight climate change


November 15, 2021
By Forest Products Association of Canada

The United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a report to demonstrate how renewable wood-based products can help combat climate change and achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The publication Forest Products in the Global Bioeconomy: Enabling substitution by wood-based products and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals was launched at a COP26 side event by Dr. E. Ashley Steel, Forest Statistics Expert at the FAO.

The event was hosted at the COP26 South African Pavilion by Jane Molony, CEO of Fibre Circle and executive director of the Paper Manufacturers of South Africa and facilitated by Derek Nighbor, president of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations and president and CEO of Forest Products Association of Canada.

“Today’s report issued by the UN FAO reaffirms what we have long known in Canada. Sustainable, climate-smart forest management is essential to advancing a strong forest bioeconomy and a move to a lower carbon economy. This report has the power to inform sound policy and funding programs around the world that can help us build a greener post-pandemic recovery that leaves no one behind,” Nighbor said.

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The UN FAO report examines forestry’s role in providing renewable and sustainable solutions that can drive the global shift to a net-zero future by promoting wood as a bio-based material that can substitute fossil sources to produce energy, food, feed, fibre, and other manufactured goods. Beyond its traditional uses in timber and paper, new wood-based products and technologies are emerging, aiming to increase the added value of wood products, decrease the carbon and water.

The study brings together the most recent knowledge on the role played by forest products in the global bioeconomy, and how emerging technologies are creating innovative new uses for wood and its derivatives. It also includes specific recommendations for governments, industry, and international cooperation bodies as they look to increase their respective contributions to sustainable development and a greener planet.

“I believe it is incumbent on all involved in the forests and forest products sector to make our leaders and policy makers aware of the fact that sustainably managed forests and their products are an integral part of building climate resilience for our planet,” Molony said. “The report issued by the UN FAO really highlights the opportunity before us to use sustainably-sourced wood products to displace fossil fuel-intensive materials and help decarbonize the built environment on a global scale.”