Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States
Opening session of the Ministerial Segment at 10th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF10)
8 April 2013, Turkey
His Excellency, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Prime Minister of Turkey
His Excellency, Mr. Mario Ruales, Chairman of the United Nations Forum on Forests,
His Excellency, Mr. Veysel Eroğlu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkey
His Excellency, Mr. Osorio Londoño, President of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to join the Turkish Government in welcoming Ministers and high level representatives from all over the world attending the 10th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.
It is a true privilege for me to share with you this historic moment, in the beautiful city of Istanbul.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude at the outset to you, Your Excellency Prime Minister, for your personal participation and for your inspiring address.
On behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I thank you for your leadership and commitment to sustainable development and for the warm hospitality of the people and the Government of Turkey.
Two years after the fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, Turkey is hosting this critical 10th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in Istanbul. This reconfirms Turkey’s commitment to international development cooperation in sustainable development and to sustainable forest management.
The United Nations Forum on Forests was established in 2000 as a platform for policy development and international cooperation on forests. The Forum’s objective is to promote sustainable forest management (SFM) worldwide, and to strengthen political commitment towards it. The Forum has successfully – and significantly – placed forests within a broader context of sustainable development.
Forests play a critical role in global sustainable development. They abate climate change, protect biodiversity, conserve watersheds and land fertility, and preserve livelihoods of forest-dependent people.
But let’s be clear. The challenges to maintain this precious gift of nature, and to manage it sustainably, are many, and serious. Moreover, the services provided by forests are still taken for granted, not fully valued or captured by markets.
Thus, being undervalued or not valued at all for their goods and services, forests continue to be over-exploited. They continue to be cleared for agriculture and other land uses without regulation or planning, causing many adverse environmental, social and economic consequences. Such impacts, as evidence has shown, rarely stay within national borders, and often stretch far beyond.
To effectively address these challenges, we need concerted efforts not only at national levels but also at regional and global levels. The UN Forum on Forests provides an important venue for such comprehensive efforts. The Non-legally Binding Instrument on All types of Forests and the four global objectives on forests that emerged from the Forum, have provided a much needed global framework for action.
Our collective aim – to halt deforestation and forest degradation and enhance sustainable forest management – will increase economic, social and environmental benefits, to all of society.
This session over the next two weeks will deliberate important policy issues on forests. The main theme – “Forests for Economic Development” – is highly relevant. Distinguished experts from across the globe will consider policies and programmes to make forests a sustainable resource for all and an important tool in resolving broader economic, social and environmental challenges.
Sustainable forest management cannot happen without prerequisite institutional and policy frameworks. One important issue relates to adequate and sustained financing, which is also on the agenda for this session.
In light of the ongoing major processes to define a post-2015 UN development agenda with sustainable development at its core, I believe this session will make a critical contribution. The decisions of the Forum will be of historic significance.
The next two days of the Ministerial Segment, in particular, provide a timely venue to discuss and agree on policies that highlight and illustrate the significance of forests for a sound global development agenda for the future. I am confident that the gathering of the political leaders will provide much needed strong support, commitment and vision for sustainable forest management.
In guiding the preparations for this historic session, you have demonstrated remarkable leadership and energy. I wish you success in leading the work of the Forum to a successful conclusion. Please be assured of the full support of the United Nations Secretariat for your deliberations. I wish you a very successful session.