The main outcomes of the Seventh Mediterranean Forest Week

The Seventh Mediterranean Forest Week (7MFW) and the twenty-fourth session of the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions – Silva Mediterranea – took place from 21 to 25 March 2022 in Antalya, Turkey. The week culminated with the creation and promotion of several outcomes that will forward the mission of Silva Mediterranea, as well as utilize the inputs of the participants of the 7MFW to inspire continued participation in this mission and their holistic implementation.

The theme for the week was “Forest and landscape restoration for the next Mediterranean generations”, and it brought together country representatives from 15 Mediterranean member states. Various events were hosted exploring a wide variety of issues related to forest and landscape restoration (FLR) in the Mediterranean region. Participants from diverse age groups were encouraged to discuss the unique obstacles that affect their participation in restoration efforts, including fruitful discussions led by young people on their own role in the mechanisms that govern FLR strategies.

Young people proved to play a pivotal role in the progress made and outcomes achieved at the 7MFW through their participation in the Mediterranean Youth Dialogue. This resulted in an official Youth Statement, as well as an article publication competition, which was helpful in disseminating the opinions and perspectives of participating younger generations across the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism and Silva Mediterranea platforms. They also took part in a poster competition, where poster designs by 18-to-35-year-old forest-sector professionals, researchers and students were displayed, fostering an environment of dialogue and knowledge sharing. The first-place winner of the competition became the recipient of a full scholarship to attend the XV World Forestry Congress in Korea, while the second- and third-place winners were granted free registration on an online course on restoration. The online version of the posters may be accessed here, and they were also showcased at the 7MFW for their alignment with the week’s themes and objectives.

Also resulting from the week was the Antalya Declaration, which called for countries and relevant stakeholders to increase restoration efforts and work with each other to address shared environment and climate challenges. These efforts will be evaluated at the next Mediterranean Forest Week. The declaration served to establish a unified approach to Mediterranean FLR initiatives, as well as strengthen the mechanisms currently in place.

The 7MFW was an opportunity for member states to address the issue of what they should do going forward, as well as reflect on the successes of initiatives that have already been undertaken. As well as achieving the week’s outcomes, participants also assessed the progress of the Agadir Commitment and endorsed the submission of the Mediterranean region represented by four countries – Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey – as a World Restoration Flagship in the context of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. If successful, the flagship status would showcase the region’s significant advancements in restoration and its potential to inspire other countries outside the Mediterranean.

The 7MFW resulted in facilitated cooperation between forest administrators, policymakers, the scientific and academic community, private-sector representatives, several organizations involved in restoration and young people with diverse backgrounds and interests. Furthermore, the outcomes will ensure that the progress and future of Mediterranean restoration remains a priority for members and relevant stakeholders alike.

Giovanbattista de Dato (FAO), Camila Mosier Giovine (FAO)