The UN first celebrated the International Day of Forests on March 21, 2013. The celebration is meant to promote the importance of forests and trees in our lives. It addresses issues such as deforestation.
To celebrate the International Day of Forests, the GofoGo Project first set up a debate workshop event on forest governance in 2015, at the Faculty of Law and political sciences (FLP), in partnership with the students from the FLP Debate Group and with the support of CCL.
The gofogo project is managaed by CARE and financed by the European union. The aim of that first event was to raise awareness among Lao civil society, especially young people about forest value.
In the light of the success of earlier campaign, in terms of students participation, involvement of the FLP debate group, the project decided to renew the experience in order to target more students.
This year (2016), the debate workshop on forest governance issues took place at the Faculty of Forest science (FFS). Through this renewed action, CARE and CCL aim to keep raising awareness among Lao people and more specifically, sensitize a larger number of students by enabling them to attend the International day of Forests workshop event.
Several INGOs involved in forest governance and forest management issues were invited to presented their organization, their action in Laos and pass a message:
i. Mr. Somphone Bouasavanh, WWF Country Director started the day presenting “WWF
Strategy on climate change in Lao PDR”.
ii. Mr. Bounyadeth Pouangmala, Country Director of RECOFTC presented RECOFTC
community forest program in Lao PDR and the concept of village forest.
iii. Ms. Vinlinthone Sklockam, representative of Village Focus International in Lao
introduced EU FLEGT and its application in Lao PDR to the students & the other guests
gathered this day.
The official theme established by the UN for the year 2016 being “forests and water”, the students chose to inaugurate the debate shows with 1) a first debate on “forests and rivers”.
Students of the FLP and FFS discussed the need of having an economic growth and development based on the exploitation of natural resources versus the importance of protecting the natural resources and livelihoods of Lao people.
The two following debates were also performed by students from the FLP and students from the FFS. They were both about forest protection with students discussing 2) between urban people and rural people, who is more able to ensure better protection of the forests and; 3) the budget grant dedicated to national forests protection versus the budget grant dedicated to economic growth.
The International Day of Forests workshop event turned out to be a real success with 170 students attending the meeting. This has been the basis for lively and enriching exchanges between students of both faculties and civil society organizations, altogether with teachers. Everybody brought interrogations and ideas together. It was a joyful day, full of surprises and we found the students buzzing with great ideas, with strong points to defend their points of view, as true lawyers.
The IDF debate workshop event 21st of March 2016 finally resulted in a successful awareness-raising campaign and the message elaborated by the students for this special event got trough: "You should invest in the forests, protect your forests. They are our lungs, they are the lungs of our planet."
There are 4 key outputs of the IDF workshop event 2016 to be stated :
1) Having raised awareness of a larger bunch of students on forest protection and good forest management, transmitting information and knowledge to 170 students.
2) Students from the FFS are now able to train themselves on their own and teach others the fundamentals of the debate. They are able to replicate the debate workshop activity as a mean to raise awareness around them and spread information on forest value at the same time
3) IEC tools were produced and distributed: leaflets presenting EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade action plan in Lao PDR were distributed by Vilinthone Saklokham from Village Focus International.
4) Journalists from Vientiane Mai, Vientiane Times and Lao TV attended the International day of Forests workshop event 2016 and contributed to better promote forests value and forest conservation among the general public.
Here's the press realeses from Vientiane Times press release, 22th of March 2016 and Vientiane Mai, 20th of April 2016.