Find Your Way – The young generation & UN Forum on Forests

Youth Participation in the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) – We Can Do It?!

The UNFF is the international platform of 197 Member States and other stakeholders on all international forest-related policy processes. To encourage participation of civil society, the UNFF (like other UN bodies) has instituted Major Groups (MGs). Each MG communicates with the UNFF through their Focal Point. The objective of the Major Group Children and Youth (MGCY) is to bring the opinions, initiatives and proposals of the young generation into the international forest policy dialog. Making use of this platform and increasing its effectiveness is a great opportunity for all young people in the world to be heard.

Find the short UNFF video Finding Balance HERE.

The last main UNFF conference was the UNFF10 (= 10th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests) in Istanbul, Turkey. In the next 1.5 years until the UNFF11 conference in spring 2015, there will be several opportunities for us all ( = international youth and beyond) to influence high-level international policy-making. At UNFF11 the future of the world’s forest policy framework will be decided including the role of forests in the post-2015 development agenda. This holds potential for YOU to get involved in one of the greatest international efforts of environmental stewardship, to become an agent of change in your local community, nationally or internationally, and to grow personally.

The great possibilities for youth participation also bring a responsibility — the responsibility to try our best, to get out of our comfort zone, to spread the word and mobilize our fellows. We can make it happen that the needs and visions of the younger generation are voiced, heard, and considered in UNFF processes — for the better of the world’s forests and people.

YOU can get ENGAGED in many WAYS:

  • Start local initiatives concerning forest education, tree plantings, or other activities involving youth, environment and development.
  • A great way to actively engage on an academic and professional level is to write your bachelor’s or master’s thesis on a topic related to forest policy and management or youth and environment/development. We can blast out your research and make it known to a range of people. This way you can provide knowledgeable, important views and insights concerning young people and forests, and on top of that your efforts in time and energy receive academic credit through your university. This brings you further both personally and professionally – while increasing the youths’ political visibility.
  • Participate in surveys and solicitations by the UNFF (the first opportunity for the period 2013-2015 is coming up, please contact me for further information)


  • going to be the change you want to see in the world?
  • interested in environmental policy, forestry, sustainable development, political economy, intergenerational justice …?
  • interested in combining academic requirements for classes (e.g. bachelor’s or master’s thesis, independent project, final paper, policy memo …anything you can think of) with the REAL WORLD?
  • a community & grassroots organizer or want to become a changemaker in your society that inspires others? Involved in an NGO working in the field of forest education and development? A social media geek?
  • simply curious about what we all can accomplish by linking local initiatives to high-level political processes?

If any of these correspond to you, go ahead and shoot me an email.

We are also LOOKING FOR:

  • Partners that can provide financial support for initiatives (ON-THE-GROUND community, education, tree planting; or INTERNATIONAL gatherings) or who can FACILITATE MEETINGS (providing material such as information, venues for meetings/workshops, tree seedlings, helping hands …)

The level of engagement is ENTIRELY UP TO YOU. All kinds of participation is highly welcome and will contribute to our common goal to increase the awareness of society and young people of our world’s forests and to ensure a bright future for the young generation in an intact natural, socioeconomic, and political environment.

IDEAS for potential ACTIONS:

  • Spread the word –> Disseminate information and news to your personal and professional networks from school or work
  • Speak up –> Provide your views, give issues of your concern a voice, write articles or blog posts, talk to your teachers, professors, fellow employees and employers
  • Write a letter to your elected political representatives, e.g. your mayor, regional district officer, environmental minister, or other government entities
  • Connect –> Contact NGOs and initiatives in the field of forests and youth, participate in conferences
  • Mobilize –> Start local initiatives on the ground
  • Enjoy –> Get out and breathe in the wonders of nature as long as they are there

For all you are doing: Let us know and share it. It will be crucial for us to collect information about all actions undertaken in order to have an amplified voice in the UNFF sessions. We need to build a connection, an unbroken link, from the bottom up to the top-level international negotiations. Let’s bring the stories right into the conference halls, policy papers, and on the tables of decision-makers.

This is just the beginning, let’s see where we can take it.

Urs Dieterich
UNFF Focal Point for the Major Group Children and Youth
International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA)