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Woodfuel (charcoal and firewood) constitutes over 70% of the energy needs for cooking and heating in sub-Saharan Africa. The consumption is on the rise due to population growth, poverty and urbanisation. The production is accessible to a large number of households, yet characterised by poor harvesting and processing practices.
The wood fuel sectors in most sub-Saharan African countries are characterised by a high degree of informality. There are on-going efforts in most countries to formalise the sector, that is, to organise, regulate and control the production and trade, typically under the heading of sustainability. These plans give stronger roles to institutions of the state to control the production and trade through permits, taxes, and enhanced controls. However, attempts at formalising the sector without an intimate understanding of the ecological, social, and economic contexts within which the production and trade take place, run the risk of failure or may compromise wood fuel-dependent livelihoods. Sustainable wood fuel production and trade remains a contested issue and big challenge in Africa that needs to be tackled urgently and collectively with all stakeholders involved.
At its 22nd session held in March 2020 in South Africa, the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) requested FAO to support the compilation, analysis and dissemination of good practices for sustainable charcoal production as well as the adoption of alternative sources of energy and recommended that FAO support countries in the formulation and implementation of national charcoal strategies. Indeed a number of organisations have been working in the sector with the aim of generating knowledge and evidence to support decision making for sustainable wood fuel production and consumption. This conference will provide an opportunity to discuss current knowledge, practices and experiences and best ways forward.
Conference objective and themes
The objective of the conference is to promote understanding and sharing of knowledge, good practices and solutions among and between scholars, practitioners, private sector and policy makers on sustainable and equitable wood fuel value chains and to advocate and explore strategies for their scaling-up.
The conference focuses on the following themes:
- Wood fuel production and use: Environmental impacts and sustainable pathways.
- Socio-economics of wood fuel value chains: Resilience, trade, livelihoods and health.
- Governance, including policy, legislation, institutional mechanisms and justice in the wood fuel sector.