Forest Forum ends endorsing measures that ensure priority to forest issues beyond 2015

The 197 country members of the United Nations Forum on Forests concluded their two-week session in Istanbul, Turkey, on 19 April

The session ended with an agreement on a series of measures aimed at improving sustainable management of forests and ensuring that forest issues will continue to have priority in the process to define the United Nations development agenda after 2015.

The Forum calls on national Governments to take a range of actions – from substantive data collection, measuring the full value of forest functions, products and services, and addressing the causes of deforestation and forests degradation, to improving participation of local communities, including indigenous peoples, in the management of forests. Countries also agreed, at the global and national levels, to mobilize additional resources to support sustainable forest management activities.

The outcome calls on countries to further integrate forests into their national development strategies and to strengthen legal frameworks and governance, including land tenure rights, in order to realize the full economic potential of the forests.

While recognizing that there is no single solution to meet all forest financing needs, the Forum agreed that multiple sources of financing, at the national, regional and international levels was needed from multiple sources, public and private, including consideration of a voluntary global forest fund.

There was also agreement that the option of establishing a new Global Environment Facility (GEF) focal area on forests should be considered and invited GEF to strengthen its support for forests in its next replenishment period, which starts in 2014.

The Istanbul session of the Forum follows a strong decision by countries at Rio+20, held last June in Rio de Janeiro, to support action on forests, recognizing that forests play a major role in promoting sustainable development, which supports economic and social development while protecting the environment.

Countries agreed that Member States should “fully integrate forests into the discussions on the outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, taking into account the vital role and significant contributions of the conservation and sustainable management of all types of forests and trees outside forests for achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo said: “Countries came to Istanbul with the aim of halting deforestation and forest degradation and enhance sustainable forest management to increase economic, social and environmental benefits, to all of society. The results of the Forum show that countries are serious about implementing the agreements reached at Rio+20.” He added: “The outcome of the UN Forum on Forests is a major step forward in global efforts to implement sustainable development.”

“There is now greater recognition than ever before that forests are essential to economic development and sustainable development,” said Jan McAlpine, Director of the Secretariat for the Forum. “In this historic meeting, countries broke new ground and agreed to take actions that demonstrate the need to sustainably manage our forests so that they can continue to be a source of livelihoods, broader economic development, including clean air, clean water and biodiversity — all leading to poverty eradication.”

More than 130 countries attended the Forum, including at least 50 who were represented at the ministerial level.  All told, there were over 3,000 delegates, representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, press, and local staff participating in the Forum.

The Forum also featured the winners of the “Forests for People Awards”, which honoured “Forest Heroes” — five individuals who made outstanding contributions to forests and the communities that rely on them — as well as the winners of the International Short Forest Film Festival and the International Forest Photography contest.

“The Awards ceremony highlighted the idea that the discussion about forests is a discussion about people,” Jan McAlpine said. “People need forests and forests need people to act sustainably and responsibly.”

For more information:
United Nations Forum on Forests

Source: Press release of the UN Department of Public Information

Photo: International Forest Photograph Award winner Eka Fendiaspara, Indonesia