In September 2017, industry experts from across the Asia-Pacific region met for the 2nd Asia Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting (APUFM); a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) meeting with the purpose of creating practical methods and outcomes as a means of assisting Asia-Pacific countries in reaching some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). As a result of that meeting the Seoul Action Plan (SAP) was created.
Two years before that, the United Nations General Assembly convened in New York. The purpose of that meeting was to adopt 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) designed to stimulate action in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet. The SDG's balance the three dimensions of sustainable development; economic, social and environmental (in October of this year a ‘Partnership' goal was added, to bring the SDG's to 17).
For a full list of the UN's SDG's visit: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
Two years after that industry experts from across the Asia-Pacific region met for the 2nd Asia Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting with the purpose of creating practical methods and outcomes as a means of assisting Asia-Pacific countries in reaching some of the SDG's. The Seoul Action Plan (SAP) is the result of that meeting. The SAP lists outcomes, actions, and indicators for achieving seven (7) of the SDG's through the use and expansion of Urban Forestry in our towns and cities.
The SAP is split into eight themes: Greener, Cleaner, Cooler, Healthier, More Cultured, More Biodiverse, Wealthier and Safer cities.
Download a PDF copy of the full 12 page Seoul Action Plan here
Why the SAP is potentially significant on a national and international level, is that the NZ Government has made a commitment to achieving the SDG's. By expanding NZ's urban forests by as little as 10% the NZ Government could potentially achieve 7 of the 17 SDG's. Ensuring that our urban forest is maintained and managed could be the easiest and cheapest way for the NZ Government to meet its commitments.
The SAP is the easy solution, it is the answer to a question that I suspect most policymakers don't even know has been asked. Our Government needs to be held to account and reminded that they have committed NZ to protecting the planet and have agreed upon economic, social and environmental goals. Local government can't go against this – in fact, the Local government should get funding achieve the SDG's and a good chunk of that funding should be set aside for maintaining and managing our urban forests.
The SAP is potentially significant because it is a tool that gives us a chance to push down from the very top, to hold the Government to account. Maybe the new Government will listen, I don't know – but if it is to listen, it needs to be told and we need to tell it through as many channels as possible and as often as possible.