GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS LANDMARK INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON FORESTS, SETTING NEW STANDARD FOR THEIR MANAGEMENT

18 December 2007
ENV/DEV/966-GA/10680

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS LANDMARK INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON FORESTS, SETTING NEW STANDARD FOR THEIR MANAGEMENT

18 December 2007
General Assembly
ENV/DEV/966 GA/10680
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS LANDMARK INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON FORESTS,

SETTING NEW STANDARD FOR THEIR MANAGEMENT

 

The General Assembly adopted a landmark agreement on international forest policy and cooperation yesterday that sets a new standard in forest management.

The new agreement, the “Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests”, calls for greater international cooperation and national action to reduce deforestation, reverse the loss of forest cover, prevent forest degradation, promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for all forest-dependent peoples.

“It was a long process –- it took over 15 years of discussion and negotiations to achieve this, but it was worth the effort,” said Srgjan Kerim, President of the General Assembly.  The agreement was reached in April this year, after two weeks of intense negotiations among delegates to the United Nations Forum on Forests.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, called the agreement a “milestone”, noting that “this is the first time Member States have agreed to an international instrument on international forest policy and cooperation”. 

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 13 million hectares of the world's forests are lost to deforestation every year.  “Forests are disappearing, not only because of a lack of knowledge on how to manage and conserve them, but also because we have not been able to establish national or international regimes or support mechanisms,” said Pekka Patosaari, Director of the Forum on Forests Secretariat.

Deforestation accounts for up to 20 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, and forests and forest soils store more than one trillion tons of carbon –- twice the amount found in the atmosphere.  Boen Purnama, Secretary-General of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and Chairman of the Forum on Forests, pointed out that “the unique role of forests in climate stabilization and as a life-support system must be further strengthened in many ways”.

More than 1.6 billion people, according to World Bank estimates, depend on forests for fuel, food, medicine and income.  “Forest resources are crucial for poverty reduction and the sustainable development of developing countries,” said Samuel Outlule, Botswana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the African Group, “especially in Africa where a significant proportion of the continent’s population depends primarily on forests for their livelihood”.

Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Samoa’s Permanent Representative, pointed out that, while the instrument was non-legally binding, it “provides a comprehensive basis to strengthen political commitments and action at the international, regional and national levels to implement global sustainable management of all types of forests”.

“Let us look to the future of forests with keener eyes, tackle the factors that cause their destruction and ensure that the right measures are taken for their conservation at all levels,” said Ursula Heinen, Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.  Hans Hoogeveen, former Chair of the Forum on Forests, stressed that “words should now be translated into concrete action”, and Martin Roze, Minister for Agriculture of Latvia, speaking on behalf of the Eastern European Group, said “now we have the Instrument, let’s use it”.

For further information please contact:  Mita Sen, United Nations Forum on Forests, tel.:  1 917 367 5069, e-mail:  sen@un.org; Martina Donlon, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  1 212 963 6816, e-mail:  donlon@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.