The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) concluded with a two-day High-level Ministerial Segment that took place from 2 to 3 February. Under the theme “forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication” the segment discussed several issues including the people-centered forest approach, finance for forest-depending communities, cross-sectoral and cross-institutional forestry approaches.
The high-level event was based on round table discussions that addressed the most appropriate ways to integrate forests and people. During the open dialogue, Member States emphasized the importance of the launch of the International year of Forests (IYF) to further promote sustainable forest management while they recognized forestry to be vital for economic, social and environmental development.
In fact, during the meeting, speakers highlighted that forests must also be an integral part of achieving the Millennium Development Goals placing special emphasis on how these natural resources are extremely important to eradicate poverty, provide water and food security, prevent soil erosion and natural disasters, and enhance a “Green Economy.”
Furthermore, participants recognized that suitable forest management cannot be addressed in isolation from other important global issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and desertification.
“We also need to emphasize the inter-linkages of forests to consumption and production patterns and their connection to climate change, natural disasters and energy insecurity,” said Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang at the event.
Stressing the important role that forest management plays for sustainable development, a round table addressing “Forest and Rio 2012” took place on 3 February. Member States discussed how to make sustainable forest management central to the three objectives of the conference which include to renew political commitment for sustainable development, to assess progress made and gaps in implementation since the first Rio Conference, and address new and emerging challenges.
Delivering his statement at the high-level round table, Mr. Sha invited Member States to consider “How can we use Rio 2012 to highlight the connections between a comprehensive, people-centred approach to forests and a green economy?”
Mr. Sha also requested Member States guidance on what they expect to achieve in Rio 2012 in 2012 underlining that the focus on forests should go beyond the environmental aspect considering that they are the source of livelihoods for 1.6 billion people across the world.
As the International Year of Forests 2011 was officially launched during the high-level segment, Member States urged the international community to use this year to raise awareness of the diverse benefits of woodlands to human life and to accelerate their sustainable management.