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Pekka Patosaari
UNFF Secretariat
photo courtesy of ENB/IISD

Achieving the international development commitments, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), requires a new, more holistic approach to addressing the inter-linkages between people and our natural resource base. Previous discussions at the Forum have highlighted how forest management is deeply intertwined with other sectors and requires coordinated inter-sectoral approaches. Discussions at the recent UNFF Ad Hoc Expert Group meeting in December echoed this notion of sustainable forest management as a dynamic process in which different issues take precedence due to varying environmental, economic and political realities.

The non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests to be adopted at the upcoming seventh session of the Forum, will help us move forward in this regard by providing a clearly articulated and practical framework for sustainable forest management, and a roadmap towards harmonizing efforts to monitor the world’s forests and ensure that forest resources are managed sustainably.

Every day, some 350 square kilometers of forest cover are lost worldwide largely due to conversion of forests to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements. Current efforts to reverse this through forest planting and restoration have helped stem some of the net loss of global forest area. But further global action is needed.

Public perception and participation has a critical role to play in this call to action, but the real challenge is to move beyond raising awareness. Active engagement and cooperation from all actors is needed not only to highlight the role of trees and forests in sustainable development, but also to achieve the broader development goals on the UN agenda for positive change, growth and renewal.

When you consider the multitude of forest-related interest groups, growing concerns for human and intellectual property rights, tensions on rural-urban interface, and often divergent local- global priorities, and it becomes clear that a mechanism is needed for greater interaction between various stakeholders and sectors that impact forests and the forest-dependent poor.

The new working modality of the Forum will include mechanisms to deepen global-regional interactions, address emerging priority issues, and strengthen stakeholder engagement. The recent adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the International Year of Forests (2011) provides yet another vehicle for us to work with member States, relevant forest-related organizations and major groups to promote public awareness and action in support of SFM efforts worldwide.
Ad Hoc Expert Group on the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests

11-15 December 2006

The Open-ended Ad Hoc Expert Group on the consideration of the content of the non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests was held at UN Headquarters, New York from 11 to 15 December 2006.  The meeting was convened to assist the Forum in its deliberations, to identify common elements and to further elaborate other substantive, working and institutional elements of the instrument.

The meeting was attended by over 300 participants, consisting of government-designated experts, representatives from some member States, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, other international organizations and major group organizations.  Following very productive and wide-ranging discussions, participants completed a first reading of the composite draft text (drawing on the compilation of proposals and comments submitted by member States). 

The report of the meeting containing a composite draft text for the instrument, which reflects views expressed by the ad hoc expert group, will be presented for consideration by the Forum at its seventh session. An advance unedited version of this report is currently available on the UNFF website.

Participants also requested the UNFF7 Bureau, with the assistance of the UNFF Secretariat, to prepare a revised draft composite text, to assist the Forum in its deliberations at its seventh session.

GA declares 2011 as the International Year of Forests

photo above and banner courtesy of the FAO Forestry Photo Database (Ref. Roberto Faidutti, #CFU000188)

The UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/61/193 on 20 December 2006, declaring the year 2011 as the International Year of Forests. Activities in support of the international year will focus on promoting sustainable management, conservation and development of forests worldwide and building awareness of the critical role that forests play in global sustainable development.

Pekka Patosaari, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat points out that the international year will help mobilize the world community to come together and work with Governments, international organizations and major groups, to ensure that global forests are managed sustainably for current and future generations. The UNFF Secretariat has been tasked with serving as the focal point for the implementation of the International Year of Forests.

UNFF7 Bureau held its Fourth and Fifth Meetings

The UNFF7 Bureau held its fourth and fifth meetings on 10 December 2006 and 31 January 2007 respectively, at UN Headquarters, New York, under the chairmanship of Mr. Hans Hoogeveen.

During the fourth meeting, Bureau members considered a final review of preparations for the Ad Hoc Expert Group meeting on the non-legally binding instrument (NLBI), met with focal points of major groups organizations and CPF members and discussed an upcoming joint meeting of Chairs of the functional commissions of ECOSOC and the Bureau of ECOSOC (15 January 2007, New York). The Bureau's meeting with major groups focal points focused on the expected outcome of the expert group meeting, the opportunities for major groups' participation in the expert group meeting and the role of major groups in the new UNFF modality of work.

During the fifth meeting, Bureau members considered preparations for the seventh session of UNFF (16-27 April 2007, New York) and the Indonesian country-led initiative (13-16 February 2007, Bali). Discussions on preparations for UNFF7 focused on the draft reports on the UNFF multi-year program of work and on the NLBI, the advanced unedited versions of which will be available on the UNFF website by mid February. The Bureau also decided to hold an informal briefing for member States on the preparations and expected outcomes of UNFF7, on 5 March 2007, at UN Headquarters New York.

The Bureau will be participating in the Country-Led Initiative (CLI) in support of UNFF in Bali next month. As part of the closing session of the meeting on 16 February 2007, the Bureau will address CLI participants and brief them on preparations for UNFF7.

The next meeting of the Bureau is scheduled for 14 February 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. For more information on the UNFF7 Bureau, including minutes of Bureau meetings, please refer to the UNFF website.

Collaborative Partnership on Forests Meeting

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests held its eighteenth meeting on 10 December 2006 in New York, under the chairmanship of Mr. Jan Heino, Assistant Director-General for the FAO Forestry Department.

Members discussed preparations the UNFF Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting (December 11-15 2006) including finalization of Joint CPF Remarks to be presented, preparations for UNFF7, recent policy developments and progress in on-going joint initiatives.

Mr. Hans Hoogeveen, UNFF7 Bureau Chair, briefed CPF members on preparations for the ad hoc expert group meeting and the UNFF7, and outlined areas where the non-legally binding instrument would be most pertinent to the work of the CPF.

Members reported on on-going joint initiatives. IUFRO reported on the first Steering Committee meeting of the CPF Joint Initiative on Science and Technology. The World Bank reported on a paper for UNFF-7 which will focus on additional and innovative sources of funding and consider the role of PROFOR in the context of existing overseas development assistance. FAO reported on the second phase of the National Forest Programme facility which is expected to expand activities from forty to sixty countries.

Members announced the launch of a number of new initiatives. CIFOR announced the launch of the Rights and Resources Initiative in partnership with IUCN, ICRAF, and a number of NGOs, which will consider tenure and market reform and the national-level regulatory frameworks that benefit small holders and community forest owners. The World Bank announced the creation of the Sustainable Development Network which will consolidate units and services within the Bank starting January 2007, and also result in the grouping together of all units working with natural resources such as forests, fisheries, water and biodiversity. ICRAF announced the launch of the Billion Tree Campaign in partnership with UNEP, during the UNFCCC COP in Nairobi.

A full report of the meeting can be found on the CPF website Documents Section:

Upcoming Activities and Events

Country-led Initiative in Support of the United Nations Forum on Forests’ "Multi-Year Programme of Work of the United Nations Forum on Forests: Charting the Way Forward 2015"
13-16 February 2007, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia is hosting this country-led initiative to explore, elaborate and develop a broader understanding of the concept and elements of the new multi-year program of work (MYPOW) of UNFF with a view to help facilitate the discussion for consideration and adoption at UNFF7.

The meeting will have parallel working groups which will discus: (a) emerging issues, "flagship" themes for UNFF sessions, and how the global objectives on forests will be addressed in the MYPOW; (b) working modalities, cross-cutting themes, more effective mechanisms for stakeholder contributions, reporting requirements and monitoring and review of MYPOW implementation; and (c) regional processes, mechanisms for inputs from regions, and mechanisms for an interface between regional processes and the UNFF sessions.

Participants will include experts from UNFF member States, relevant inter-governmental organizations and representatives of major groups.

Preparations for the meeting are being coordinated by a national organization committee and a steering committee. The second Steering Committee meeting took place on 14 December 2006 in New York, and discussed the tentative programme of activities, resource mobilization, venue and logistical arrangements, documentation, and thematic issues and officers for the three working groups.

For more information, please refer to the meeting website or contact Mr. Tri Tharyat, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations.

Briefing on preparations for UNFF7 (16-27 April 2007)
5 March 2007, New York

The UNFF7 Bureau will engage hold an informal briefing for member States on the preparations and expected outcomes of UNFF7, on 5 March 2007, at UN Headquarters New York.

Seventh session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF7)
16-27 April 2007, New York

The seventh session of the UN Forum on Forests will conclude and adopt the non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests and decide on a new Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) for the Forum.

The meeting will be attended by member States of the Forum, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, representatives of inter-governmental organizations and major groups.

Travel support is being provided to one participant per eligible country to the maximum extent possible from the budget, on a first come, first served basis. All travel support requests should be made by national authorities through their Permanent Missions to the UN in New York before the deadline of 3 March 2007.

Documents related to the meeting, including the provisional agenda, registration information, details on requesting travel support and procedures for organizing side events are currently available on the UNFF website. Please note that the deadline for side event requests and major groups registration is 2 March 2007.

Next E-Forum: Community-Based Forest Management rescheduled for March 2007

The next UNFF on-line forum will be open from 5-11 March 2007, and will discuss on-the-ground experiences in community-based forest management.

UNFF Calendar of Events

For information on upcoming forest-related events in 2007, please visit our online calendar.

UNFF Staff Update

We would like to express our appreciation to Ms. Daniela Sinobad, Programme Assistant, who recently left the UNFF Secretariat to join the UN Department of Public Information. Ms. Sinobad joined the Secretariat 3 years ago and was instrumental in developing and maintaining our web-site and newsletter. She was a valuable asset to our team during sessions and her enthusiasm, willingness to take on new challenges and warm demeanor will be greatly missed. We wish her all the best in her new position.

Request to Update Information on National Focal Points

We would like to invite all member States to review the national focal point name and contact information currently listed on our website to ensure that the information is correct and up to date.  Please send any corrections to the UNFF Secretariat via email.

New nominations of national focal points should be sent in hard copy through mail or fax (+1 917 367 3186).  Please contact us if you require templates of nomination letters or copies of past communications regarding this matter.