Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this important dialogue on upscaling actions to turn the tide on deforestation.
This dialogue comes at a critical juncture. The international community is facing enormous socio-economic and environmental crises. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries are experiencing immense suffering, and disruptions, on their path to sustainable development. In 2020, over 120 million people were pushed into extreme poverty, and the number of those suffering from hunger increased to over 800 million.
Forests – as one of the earth’s most precious resources – are also suffering from unsustainable utilization, exploitation, and degradation. Deforestation continues to be at an alarming rate in several regions. Tremendous pressures are being placed on forests that are contributing to their disappearance. These include:
- Climate change,
- population growth and urbanization,
- unstainable land use policies, and agricultural subsidies,
- as well as increased poverty, inequality and hunger.
Forests have the potential to help address the economic, social and environmental crises. Indeed, their role in addressing major global challenges – including in the fight against climate change and deforestation – have been recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030.
We must take concrete steps – not only to turn the tide on deforestation and safeguard our forests – but also to maximize the contribution of forests to addressing:
- climate change,
- land degradation,
- natural disasters,
- water scarcity,
- poverty, and inequality.
This can be done through the following urgent steps:
First: Halting deforestation can only be achieved through concerted efforts of UN Member States, the UN system organizations, and stakeholders. We should accelerate our efforts across the UN system, and in particular, among members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), to combat deforestation, climate change, and assist in global recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.
Second: It is critical for the UN system and other CPF member organizations to support country efforts to achieve the global forest-related goals and targets. And, to integrate them into the operational programmes of each CPF member organization. This is an effective means to upscale global efforts, to turn the tide on deforestation and facilitate implementation.
Third: New initiatives and partnerships should support achieving the global forest goals and targets. CPF member organizations should also encourage more collaboration with external partners and stakeholders, on activities that advance the achievement of global targets on forests.
We welcome the ongoing efforts within the CPF to develop a Joint Initiative on Turning the Tide on Deforestation. This is an important step to enhance synergy and coordination among members of the Partnership in tacking deforestation, its drivers, and intensifying factors.
Within the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN DESA, we are working to explore the best means to support this Initiative. To make this Joint Initiative effective and supportive of the existing global agreements on forests, it should include specific actions:
- to integrate global forest-related goals and targets into the programmes of participating organizations, and
- to support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda, UN Strategic Plan for Forests, the Paris Agreement and other relevant agreements and frameworks, such as REDD+.
Fourth: Financing for forests remains well below the level needed to achieve the global goals and targets on forests, especially in developing countries. In the Global Forest Goals Report 2021, published by UN DESA, more than 25 percent of developing countries reported that inadequate funding, hindered their progress towards Global Forest Goals.
Under the UN Forum on Forests, the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network, is working to address some finance-related challenges of developing countries, including their access to forest finance. Nevertheless, it is important for the CPF member organizations to make additional efforts to assist countries in this area, including through the newly developed Joint Initiative.
Fifth: UN DESA, along with FAO, UNEP, UNDP, UNFCCC, and other parts of the UN system, should continue to contribute to the Working Group on Turning the Tide on Deforestation. This has been set up to implement the decisions of the UN Secretary-General’s Executive Committee. This work should be carried out in close coordination with other relevant initiatives, including the Decade of Action for the SDGs, Climate Action, and Common Approach on Biodiversity.
I wish to encourage the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and its member organizations, to continue to join forces in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Forest Goals, and other globally agreed goals and targets on forests. As a member and the secretariat of the Partnership, UN DESA stands ready to support and jointly advance the work of the Partnership.
I thank you.