New York, 2 February 2011 - Secretary-General's video message for the launch of the International Year of ForestsMr. President of the General Assembly,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to greet all those gathered for this important forum.
A special welcome to the Government leaders and to Ms. Elinor Ostrom -- winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Economics for her groundbreaking work on community forestry.
By declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the United Nations General Assembly has created an important platform to educate the global community about the great value of forests -- and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them.
Forests are vital to our well-being. They harbour 80 per cent of land-based biodiversity, and store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon.
Greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation account for more than those by the world's entire transportation sector.
At the recent climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, Governments took an important step towards building a low-emissions, climate-resilient future. The balanced package of measures on which they agreed included progress on the conservation and sustainable management of forests.
The decision to move forward with REDD Plus will provide tangible results for the planet and the more than 1.6 billion people who depend on forests for sustenance and livelihoods.
Let us build on this promising initiative so that present and future generations continue to benefit from the rich diversity of forests.
Nearly two decades ago, at the Rio Earth Summit, concern about forest management led to the establishment of the United Nations Forum on Forests.
In this International Year, and as we look ahead to the Rio +20 conference in 2012, we have a chance to agree on how best to realize the full potential of forests -- for sustainable development, economic stability, the fight against poverty, and our efforts to ensure future prosperity for all.
Statements on 2 February 2011