Forest protection, biodiversity and artificial intelligence: what challenges ahead?

Speakers: D’Eugenio Joachim, Lucas Thierry, White Topher, Neves Luis, Borkowski Piotr, Dedopoulou Angeliki
Moderator: Keating Dave

We are most pleased to invite you to participate in an evening of discussion on the challenges ahead regarding EU and global forest protection and the use of artificial intelligence to counter biodiversity loss and improve environmental sustainability with our distinguished speakers:

  • Mr Joachim D’Eugenio, Senior Expert, DG ENVI, European Commission;
  • Mr Thierry Lucas, Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP;
  • Mr Topher White, Founder & CEO, Rainforest Connection;
  • Mr Luis Neves, CEO, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Mr Piotr Borkowski, Executive Director, Eustafor.

Ms Angeliki Dedopoulou, Senior Manager, EU Public Affairs, Huawei will hold a keynote speech and participate in the panel discussion.

The debate will be moderated by Dave Keating, Journalist and Brussels Correspondent for France 24.

Given the current developments regarding the Covid-19 outbreak, our event series will be held in streaming.

This event is kindly sponsored by

About the debate

Biodiversity decline has been widely recognised as the canary in the coalmine for a broader malaise. Indeed, several authoritative sources have pointed to biodiversity and climate change as the two main defining issues of our age with respect to environmental protection. As a result, given the vital role that temperate, tropical and boreal forests play in the global ecosystem regardless of borders, forest protection has emerged as a crucial question. In fact, forests cover roughly 30% of global land area, host 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, and constitute a natural source of carbon capture and storage. Furthermore, forests are sources of clean water, regulators of weather, a factor in protecting against natural disasters, as well as a source of shelter and renewable energy. As acknowledged by both the UN and the European Commission, notwithstanding these facts, forests are rapidly disappearing as a result of deforestation and degradation. In addition, global deforestation and forest degradation also negatively affect many objectives of both Europe and the wider international community in several other important aspects of life on Earth, such as ensuring peace and good governance, as well as fostering the rule of law as highlighted by the goals of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda.

To counter these issues, the European Union has put forward several actions which have culminated in the recognition of the importance of forests in the European Green Deal, whereby the European Commission has pledged to prepare a new Forest Strategy to restore damaged or depleted forests, to improve the quality and quantity of European forests and to avoid creating deforestation outside the Union. Several environmental organisations have advocated for Europe, as one of the most active consumer zones, to take responsibility and act, while they have also praised the actions of the European Union regarding forest protection. Also, the convergence of the questions of forest protection and climate change were raised by Vice President Timmermans who stated “Europe will not meet its climate targets without protecting the world’s forests. The EU does not host the world’s major primary forests on its territory, but our actions as individuals and our policy choices have a major impact. Today we send an important signal to our citizens and our partners around the world that the EU is prepared to play a leadership role in this area in the next five years, and beyond.”

However, the question of forest protection continues to be a crucial feature of the global public debate on climate change as forests constitute not only an important aspect of the fight for protecting the climate, but also a litmus paper on the successfulness of the actions that the European and international institutions are undertaking. Within this context, the scientific community, the private sector and non-governmental organisations have started to deploy several efforts to counter these issues, and have cooperated to identify the tools which can support the fight against deforestation, as well as research and monitoring, along with the collection of data on this matter. As several authoritative commentators have highlighted, the question of forest protection, and the whole set of challenges enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals, will not be successfully overcome without the collaboration of all stakeholders along with the help of the most advanced technologies.

The event will commence at 6.00 PM and it will be held in streaming. After the panel debate there will be an opportunity for questions and discussions.

The audience will be able to ask questions during both the discussion and the Q&A session through #Tech4Forests

Please specify, whenever possible, to which speaker you wish to address the question. Questions without this specification will be intended as to be addressed to the panel as a whole.

We look forward to hosting you at 6.00 PM on the 24th of June 2020.