Keynote Remarks at Meeting with UNFF Donor Countries

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be at this important meeting with countries which have been great supporters and main contributors to the UNFF Trust Fund.

In recent years, the critical and multidimensional role of forests in addressing the most urgent global environmental and socio-economic challenges are amply highlighted. The experience gained through the last two years of the global pandemic of COVID-19 sends a clear message that the human health and the health of ecosystems, in particular, forests are closely interconnected. We need to protect forests to avoid future zoonotic diseases. Those diseases tend to emerge when natural ecosystems are degraded.  

In an important development, countries adopted the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use in conjunction with COP26 of UNFCCC in November 2021. This Declaration recognizes the indispensable role of forests in addressing climate change. The Declaration demonstrates the determination of 141 countries to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. This Declaration reminds us of the decisive role that halting deforestation can play in keeping global warming below 1.5°C, which is the bare minimum needed to avoid a catastrophic situation for the entire planet.  

Governments are also moving towards the adoption of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework later this year. This will be another important global agreement to demonstrate the critical role of forests in addressing the global challenge of biodiversity loss. Forests are home to 80% of terrestrial species, and we can’t preserve biodiversity without protecting their home.  

Earlier this morning, during the High-Level Round Table of the seventeenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF17), senior officials from Member States, United Nations, civil society, and the private sector discussed the actions that UNFF should undertake to effectively respond to these new developments.  
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) attaches great importance to the work of the Forum, which is the only universal body on all issues related to forests, within the UN system. Through the work of the UNFF Secretariat, DESA provides secretariat support to the Forum. DESA also provides support to many other intergovernmental meetings, including the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Through its support to various intergovernmental meetings and bodies, DESA advances an integrated and coherent approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030. 

The UN Forum on Forests is at a critical juncture to not only demonstrate its relevance and important role in responding to new global forest-related developments, but also, to set in place sound preparations for its midterm review of the effectiveness of the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF). It is particularly important to ensure that the result of the IAF midterm is consistent with and supportive to the overall work of the UN in advancing implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and achievement of the SDGs, and is responsive to the new expectations and demands from the Forum.

The Department continues to do all it can to support the work of the Forum, through the UNFF Secretariat, in normative, analytical, and technical fields. The UNFF Secretariat is the smallest division in terms of the budget and staff in the Department. Due to the existing limitations, it is not feasible to expect increased post and non-post resources from the UN regular budget to the UNFF Secretariat at this stage. In this respect, contributions of donor countries to the UNFF Trust Fund have been and continue to be critical to enable the UNFF Secretariat to fully implement the decisions of the Forum, support its members, and meet the expectations. On behalf of DESA, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank for your governments’ contribution to the UNFF Trust Fund, and express hope that today’s meeting will lead to the necessary level of support to the work of the UNFF Secretariat. 

You received a Funding Proposal in preparation of this donors’ meeting; and you will hear from my colleagues what we plan to do if we are adequately funded. I hope this effort of clarity and transparency will motivate and convince you and will acquire us your much needed support. 

Over to Director Juliette Biao and team. 

File date: 
Monday, May 9, 2022

Ms. Spatolisano