Statement at High -level Roundtable Seventeenth session of the UN Forum on Forests

Madam Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to represent the Secretary-General of the United Nations at this important High-Level Round Table of the Seventeenth session of the UN Forum on Forests.

We live in an era of unprecedented challenges.  The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is upending our world, threatening our health, destroying economies and livelihoods and deepening poverty and inequalities. Conflicts continue to rage and worsen. The disastrous effects of a changing climate – famine, floods, fires, and extreme heat – threaten our very existence. Our challenges are interconnected, across borders and all other divides, and can only be addressed by an equally interconnected response. In his report on “Our Common Agenda”, the Secretary-General outlined actions to promote solidarity and international cooperation towards a greener, safer, and better future, while walking us back from the cusp of breakdown. “Our Common Agenda” builds on and responds to the Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, in which Member States made 12 critical commitments, namely: to leave no one behind; to protect our planet; to promote peace and prevent conflict; to abide by international law and ensure justice; to place women and girls at the center; to build trust; to improve digital cooperation; to upgrade the United Nations; to ensure sustainable financing; to boost partnerships; to listen to and work with youth; and to be prepared for future crises, including but not limited to public health crises. 

In his New Year message this year, the Secretary-General also identified his central priorities for the upcoming five year, including, to build and maintain momentum to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and to support countries to recover from the pandemic and achieve the 2030 Agenda.  

Forests are a key contribute to the implementation of “Our Common Agenda”, and to meet the SDGs. Forests are vital ecosystems, acting as natural filters, and giving us clean air and safe water. Forests and trees regulate our climate, from influencing rainfall patterns and cooling urban areas, to absorbing one-third of all greenhouse gases emitted each year. Forests support our livelihoods, including an estimated 2.5 billion people who practice smallholder agriculture. These precious natural resources are under threat due to many factors, including rise in population, climate change, forest fires, and deforestation.  Every year, we lose 10 million hectares of forest area.  We will need more forests to sustain us, not less.  

It is not surprising that the critical and multidimensional role of forests in addressing the global pressing challenges in environmental, social, and economic fields have been highlighted in many global conferences. Through the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, 141 countries recognized the indispensable role of forests in addressing climate change and committed to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, as one effective means to keep the global warming below 1.5°C to avoid a catastrophic situation for the entire planet.  

As home to 80% of terrestrial species, forests also play a key role in preventing biodiversity loss, and in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. In about two months from now, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will also review the progress towards SDG15 and its targets which directly relate to forests.  

In all these processes, the call to halt deforestation and its drivers have been loud and clear. As the unique universal body on all issues related to forests within the UN system, UNFF has an important responsibility to effectively respond to the new developments and play a stronger role in global policy-setting on forests and galvanize efforts to halt deforestation and forest degradation by 2030. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us use the opportunity provided by this session to chart the course towards a greener recovery for people and the planet alike and promote forest-based solutions to create climate-neutral, resource-efficient, and sustainable economies, and a healthy environment for all. 

I thank you for your attention 


File date: 
Monday, May 9, 2022

Ms. Spatolisano