On 15 May, the eleventh session of the UN Forum on Forests successfully concluded with the approval of a wide-ranging omnibus resolution that extends the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) until 2030. Demonstrating a high level of political interest in forests, delegates from over 125 Member States participated, including 30 forest Ministers and Vice Ministers.
Expectations were high for this UNFF session, and senior UN officials characterized the need to balance ambitious vision with practical structure as a “formidable task”. In the opening session of the Forum on 4 May, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted the importance of forests for global development, stating “A meaningful decision on strengthening the International Arrangement on Forests will put us on a path towards a greener economy and a more equitable and sustainable future for all.”
In addition to extending the timeline for the International Arrangement for another 15 years, UNFF11 also agreed to update the UN Forest Instrument, strengthen the Forum and its Secretariat, develop a strategic plan, and establish a strengthened UNFF Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network (building on the UNFF Facilitative Process) to mobilize and enhance access to financial resources for forests.
A renewed focus on implementation and forest financing
Director of the Forum Secretariat, Manoel Sobral Filho noted that through the agreement on the UNFF Global Financing Facilitation Network, re-structured UNFF sessions, delegates at UNFF11 had paved the way for a more effective International Arrangement. Starting in 2017, the Forum will meet annually for one-week sessions with an increased focus on implementation and technical advice.
The UNFF11 Resolution also calls for systematic collaboration with the multilateral financial institutions like the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support countries in the implementation of sustainable forest management. In particular, the Forum requested the GEF to consider establishing a new focal area on sustainable forest management during its next replenishment period.
Forest-related aspects of the post-2015 development agenda
“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” – Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary-General
UNFF11 outcomes also paved the way for the Forum to play a more active role in contributing to the High-level Political Forum, and to the follow-up and review of the forest-related aspects of the post-2015 development agenda, including its forest-related SDGs and targets.
Delegates also agreed to integrate the forest-related SDGs and targets into the UN Forest Instrument, while at the same time extending the timeline of the Global Objectives on Forests (GOFs) from 2015 to 2030 (in line with the timeline of the post-2015 development agenda).
2015, a time for global action for forests
UNFF11 also adopted a Ministerial Declaration that highlights sustainable management of all types of forests is vital to facilitate transformative change and address challenges – from poverty eradication, energy and economic growth to food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Ministers responsible for forests, pledged to cooperate internationally and bilaterally to address the drivers of deforestation and degradation, including by promoting secure land tenure rights and stakeholders’ participation. They recognized that the UNFF, with its universal membership and comprehensive mandate plays a vital role in addressing challenges related to forests in a holistic and integrated manner.
The Declaration emphasized the need to integrate forests in the outcomes of key international conferences taking place in 2015, including the Addis Ababa Conference on Financing for Development, the UN Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and its SDGs, and the Paris Climate Change Conference.
The twelfth session of the UNFF is expected to be held in mid-2017. During the intersessional period of 2016 to early 2017, a strategic plan for 2017 -2030 will be developed through meetings of UNFF ad hoc expert groups (2016) and a UNFF working group (late 2016 /early 2017).
For more information: 11th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests