Celebrating International Youth Day—and working to ensure the future of tropical forests

12 August 2022

ITTO Fellow Sandra Rodriguez Piñeros (Colombia) at ITTO’s booth at the XV World Forestry Congress. The Fellowship award enabled her to present her work on social forest entrepreneurship at this forum. Photo: R. Carrillo/ITTO

Yokohama, 12 August 2022: This year’s theme of International Youth Day, Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages, stresses the importance of leveraging the potential of all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Young people are the future custodians of tropical forests; ITTO is investing in them in diverse ways, including through its Fellowship Programme.

The Fellowship Programme—which is now open for applications—promotes human-resource development and strengthens professional expertise in tropical forestry and related disciplines. Since its establishment in 1989, the programme has enabled more than 1400 young and mid-career professionals from 49 countries to pursue professional development opportunities and improve their career prospects, which in turn, contributes to improving sustainable forestry across the tropics.

Sandra Rodríguez Piñeros (Colombia), at the Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Mexico, was awarded an ITTO Fellowship in 2021 to attend the XV World Forestry Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea. It enabled her to share the outcomes of her work on social forest entrepreneurship at a pre-Congress side-event.

“Sixteen students from ten countries attended the three-hour side-event,” she says. “Students’ evaluations were positive; they understood the importance of learning more about social forest entrepreneurship as an essential skill for developing sustainable business ideas based on timber and non-timber products in their countries and communities.”

Sri Mulyati, from Indonesia, was awarded an ITTO Fellowship in 2020 to support field research for her doctorate in conservation sciences. Now, a year and a half later, she says the support provided by the ITTO Fellowship Programme “is a great help for students even under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic”.

When she completes her studies, Ms Mulyati will return to her position at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

“I will then have the privilege of using what I have learned to hopefully improve the management of conflicts related to protected areas in Indonesia,” she says.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Atté Cyrille Bi Tiesse conducted a study to map water-erosion sensitivity in the mountainous Tonkpi region using remote sensing and a geographic information system, supported by a ITTO Fellowship in 2015, as part of his doctoral studies at the Graduate School of Agronomics in the Félix Houphouët-Boigny National Polytechnic Institute. He continues to disseminate his research for the uptake by local authorities and communities.

“I plan to organize a workshop in the Tonkpi region with its Regional Council, Ministry of Environment officials and local elected officials to present the results of my doctoral thesis with a view to raising awareness of good practices for the participatory management of this region,” says Dr Tiesse.

Other recent examples of the Organization’s work to foster intergenerational knowledge include ITTO’s online course on legal and sustainable supply chains and the forest landscape restoration learning modules for high school and university, the latter in collaboration with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

“Capacity building and education comprise one of the cross-cutting strategies in our Strategic Action Plan 2022–2026 for achieving the Organization’s mission,” says ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru. “Capacity building has always been at the core of our work. With forestry increasingly central to our shared future, investing in young professionals and providing opportunities for intergenerational exchange is even more essential for unlocking innovation and realizing the full potential of tropical forests for a healthy and sustainable planet.”


Related SDGs

Education and training on sustainable forestry is crucial for ensuring forest sustainability and productivity into the future. ITTO builds human-resource capacity and strengthens professional expertise in tropical forestry through its Fellowship Programme and other work.

ITTO Fellowships are awarded considering regional representation and gender balance.

Investing in young forestry professionals and providing opportunities for intergenerational exchanges are key for unlocking innovations in tropical forestry.

Competencies in legal and sustainable supply chains for tropical wood and tropical forest products will enhance understanding on sustainable consumption and production.

Competencies in forest landscape restoration will help in mitigating climate change by increasing the quantity of carbon held in vegetation and long-life forest products.

Empowering young people through inclusive approaches is essential for building back better in a sustainable manner and restoring the planet.

Intergenerational solidarity requires collaboration across generations, which in turn will assist in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.