EAST and Southern African legislators have agreed to serve as Goodwill Ambassadors for forests in their respective countries and register with organisations working on conservation.
The World Future Council said in a statement after the second Inter-Parliamentary Hearing on 'Forests for People' held in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, that they also agreed to raise awareness among the people, parliamentarians, senators and policymakers about the significant role of forests and trees for livelihoods.
"We recognise the urgent need to act at the local, national and regional levels to scale up successful experiences and best practices to the levels needed in each country, region and Africa," the statement read in part.
The hearing was convened by the World Future Council with the support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tanzania Forest Services Agency, the UN Forum on Forests, the FAO Regional Office for Africa and UNDP.
The parliamentarians from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe also agreed to commit themselves to scale up tree planting by convening mandatory tree planting days or weeks on a monthly or annual basis.
Other pledges made included undertaking measures to empower youth and communities to engage meaningfully in the sustainable management and conservation of forests and encourage mutually benefitting partnerships between the public, the private sector and communities.
Delegates requested both public and private funding in support of holding annual Inter-Parliamentary Hearings on 'Forests for People' to report on national progress.
"Delegates have committed to regularly engage in sharing best practice in forest policy and law-making and to address effective implementation, measures to support local communities and youth and financing for forests," the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources, Mr James Lembeli said.
The Pan-African Parliament Founding President and WFC Honorary Councilor, Dr Gertrude Mongella, said that forests are disappearing at unprecedented rates that threaten the existence of human beings.
"Women will be mostly affected. Legislators need to promote and support women as key actors in the protection and sustainable management of forests and trees," she said.
In line with the approach of the World Future Council, which promotes 'best policy' solutions, the hearing allowed for a mutual exchange on forest policies, which have proved effective in certain African countries and could be replicated in others.
"We raised awareness to the fact that successful forest management is possible," says WFC Senior Project Manager for 'Forests for People,' Ms Ina Neuberger. "We believe that sustainable forest management presents important opportunities to address the issues of equity and justice."
In the International Year of Forests 2011, the World Future Council presented its Future Policy Award to exemplary policies that sustainably protect, enhance and utilise forests. The National Forest Policy of Rwanda, initiated in 2004, won the gold award and the Gambian Community Forest Policy received the silver award. In 2012, the WFC conducted an Inter-Parliamentary Hearing in Kigali, Rwanda.
The World Future Council brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. Its 50 eminent members from around the globe have already successfully promoted change. The council addresses challenges to our common future and provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. The World Future Council is registered as a charitable foundation in Hamburg, Germany.