Deliberations beginning this week at the eleventh session of the UN Forum on Forests present an unprecedented opportunity to forge an international forest policy for the next 15 years that will be aligned with the new sustainable development agenda expected to be adopted in September.
This year, the international community will agree on a development agenda that has as its overarching objective the eradication of poverty and the achievement of sustainable development. The current integration of forests into the new agenda demonstrates the increasing recognition of the critical role forests play in eradicating poverty, as well as addressing climate change.
“To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world’s forests”
“To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world’s forests. That will take political commitment at the highest levels, smart policies, effective law enforcement, innovative partnerships and funding,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Close to 1.6 billion – more than 25% of the world’s population – rely on forests resources for their livelihoods. Approximately 1.2 billion use trees on farms to generate food and cash. In the context of climate change, sustainable forest management and responsible use of forests products present the most effective and cost-competitive natural carbon capture and storage system.
Over the next two weeks, all 197 Member States and Observer States of the UN Forum on Forests – the only intergovernmental body that addresses all forest issues – will gather to review and seek to enhance existing policies that address the effective management, conservation and development of all types of forests.
Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the benefits that forests provide are incalculable. “Forests drive economic development and prosperity, provide jobs and livelihoods, and at the same time, promote health and well-being. Proven solutions exist to create the future we want; investing in our forests is a pathway to transformative sustainable development.”
“Forests drive economic development and prosperity, provide jobs and livelihoods, and at the same time, promote health and well-being”
UN DESA Under-Secretary-General
Mr. Thomas Gass, the Assistant-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), noted that the Forum was in a unique position to monitor progress in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda in so far as it related to forests and to ensure the achievement of forest-related sustainable development goals and targets.
Since the UN Forum on Forests started in 2001, it has galvanised action to reduce deforestation at the global level while improving the livelihood of people who depend on forests for their sustenance.
Mr. Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat highlighted that a strengthened Forum will catalyse further action on the ground. “The effectiveness of the post-2015 UNFF will increase significantly if it has the means to assist Member States and stakeholders in accessing financing, technology, innovation and capacity building needed for sustainable management of all types of forests.”
This year’s session, under the theme “Forests: progress, challenges and the way forward for the International Arrangement of Forests,” will review the current International arrangement on forests, the contributions of forests to internationally agreed goals as well as define priority actions beyond 2015.
The session will result in two outcomes: a Ministerial declaration and a resolution on the International Arrangement on Forests that will guide the actions of the international community on forest management, conversation and development for the next 15 years.
A high-level event on 13 to 14 May will focus on the future international forest policy, as well as its integration in the broader context of the UN post-2015 development agenda.
Since 1992, the issue of forests have been a priority on international policy and political agendas. In the last decade, the main focus has been to develop policies to promote the sustainable development of all types of forests.