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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, 3 June 2011 - Secretary-General's message to high level segment of Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Amazon, Congo and Borneo-Mekong Forest Basins [delivered by Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa]

I thank President Sassou-Nguesso for hosting this summit during the 2011 International Year of Forests. I commend the leaders present for contributing to growing global understanding of the value of forests and of the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them.

From access to clean water to agricultural productivity, from soil conservation to flood control, forests are central to economic development, poverty reduction and food and nutrition security. By reducing deforestation and forest degradation we can make significant progress in addressing the combined threats of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation.

Despite this knowledge, and various efforts to slow deforestation, forests are still disappearing at an alarming rate. We have an obligation to work collectively to halt this trend. The 2007 UN Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests, with its four Global Objectives on Forests, provides a solid framework for action at all levels to promote sustainable forest management and address deforestation and forest degradation.

Forests will only be protected and managed sustainably through a cross-sectoral and cross-institutional approach, complemented by the necessary resources. To this end, I urge countries to support global forest financing processes, including REDD-Plus. I also encourage greater South-South collaboration, including by the countries represented at this Summit, whose forests, taken together, represent a significant portion of the planet's tropical forests.

Nearly two decades ago, one of the major outcomes of the Earth Summit were the Rio Forest Principles. Next year, governments will reconvene in Rio for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Your discussions can provide useful input for Rio +20 as well as this year's climate change conference in Durban. Let us re-commit to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for our collective future, while we still have time.

Statements on 3 June 2011