Water and Forest Week Addresses Green Economy

26 August 2011: Water and Forest Week, which was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), featured discussions on the green economy, particularly on the role of payments for ecosystem services (PES). Water and Forest Week took place from 4-8 July 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the "UNECE Weekly" newsletter for the period 8-26 August 2011, at a workshop titled “Payments for Ecosystem Services: What role for a green economy," representatives from governments, research and NGOs agreed that forests must be considered a natural asset and green infrastructure, and discussed how the reform of harmful subsidies and an integrated land-use policy could assist in maintaining and restoring forest ecosystem services. They also exchanged ideas on compensating forest owners for wise stewardship, based on the demand for ecosystem services from society and business.

A second workshop, on “Water and forest in drylands: a virtuous cycle- information exchange from the Mediterranean to Central Asia,” discussed whether and how forests and afforestation in drylands could positively influence water availability and water quality, and if PES is feasible. The participants included those from non-UNECE countries, such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen. The workshop concluded that: the relationship between forests and water depends on many factors such as species, age and soil; forests and water must be understood at the ecosystem and landscape level, considering land use, social, ecological and hydrological aspects; compensating forests owners for managing their forests for water may help preserve forests; and further exchanges of experience on water and forests in drylands are needed. [Publication: UNECE Weekly] [Website of PES Workshop] [Website of Dryland Forest Workshop]