United Nations Forum on Forests, Concluding Ninth Session, Urges Use of International Year to Raise Awareness about Forest Benefits

4 February 2011

United Nations Forum on Forests, Concluding Ninth Session, Urges Use of International Year to Raise Awareness about Forest Benefits

4 February 2011
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Forum on Forests

Ninth Session

13th Meeting (PM)

United Nations Forum on Forests, Concluding Ninth Session, Urges Use


of International Year to Raise Awareness about Forest Benefits


Delegates Adopt ‘Omnibus’ Text, Elect Bureau for Next Session by Acclamation

As it concluded its ninth session this afternoon, the United Nations Forum on Forests strongly urged the international community to use the International Year of Forests, 2011, to raise awareness of the diverse benefits of woodlands to human life and to accelerate their sustainable management.

By the text of its wide-ranging draft “omnibus” resolution, “Forests for People, Livelihoods and Poverty Eradication”, the Forum also urged that the Year be used to strengthen political will to address the gaps in the implementation of the agreement known as the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests (the forest instrument) through enhanced cooperation, new financing and resource mobilization, and the transfer of technology to developing countries.  The Forum launched the International Year on 2 February, during the High-Level Ministerial Segment of its two-week session.  (See Press Release ENV/DEV/1188)

The Forum invited Member States, member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other stakeholders to contribute to poverty eradication in developing countries through sustainable forest management, as the basis for economic development.  Among other proposals, the text also invited stakeholders to clarify and strengthen tenure rights, facilitate financial and technical assistance to develop the capacity of local and indigenous communities in sustainable forest management, and to establish safeguards and guidelines to promote the fair distribution among those communities of the benefits arising from forests.

Welcoming the results of the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on Forest Financing, and calling for the implementation of related provisions adopted during its special session in October 2009, the Forum invited substantive submissions on strategies to mobilize resources for sustainable forest management, to be received by 1 March 2012 from Governments, relevant regional organizations and major groups.

During the session, participants stressed that at least 1.6 billion people were dependent on forests for their livelihoods, the majority of them poor, and that about 60 million mainly indigenous and local people lived within them.  They underlined the wealth of economic, social and cultural benefits provided by forests and considered how they could be managed to help alleviate poverty in a sustainable manner.  (See Press Release ENV/DEV/1178 of 21 January 2011 for additional background information.)

Before the Forum’s adoption of the resolution, Bolivia’s representative said his delegation wished to join the consensus, but questioned paragraph seven because it was important to mention not only the results from the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Cancún, Mexico, but also the transgressions of United Nations standards on consensus that had taken place there.

Following the adoption, the representatives of the following delegations welcomed the consensus action: Hungary (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Switzerland, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Algeria (on behalf of the African Group), Cuba, Pakistan, Denmark, Indonesia, Zambia, United States, South Africa, Ghana, Denmark and Turkey.

Switzerland’s representative, however, said she found several paragraphs of the text unclear, particularly with regard to reports for the next session.  Venezuela’s representative said he was concerned that the resolution contained inadequate mention of technology transfer and the impact of reduced official development assistance (ODA) on forests and indigenous traditions, among other questions.  In a similar vein, Cuba’s representative said it was unfortunate that the text was unable to accommodate the views of all delegations, particularly on the outcomes emanating from Cancún and from the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, held in Nagoya, Japan, last October.

Indonesia’s representative said it was important that language on tenure rights conform to national rights and responsibilities in that area.  The representative of the United States said it was important to underscore the non-legally binding nature of the text, while Denmark’s delegate stressed that the resolution must be implemented in conformity with the rights of indigenous peoples.

Brazil’s representative reiterated the need to work for the integration of the issue of forests into the agenda of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, and offered to host the meeting of major groups “back to back” with the upcoming landmark meeting.  Turkey’s representative reiterated his offer to hold the next Forum on Forests in Istanbul, while the Netherlands delegate reminded participants of his Government’s offer to organize a country-led initiative on the International Year in September.

Colombia’s representative requested all countries hosting conferences this year to follow her own country’s example by making them “paperless” events.

Also this afternoon, the Forum recommended to the Economic and Social Council that its tenth session indeed be held in Istanbul, although the dates were yet to be determined.  The Forum adopted the draft provisional agenda for that session (document E/CN.18/2011/L.2), as well as the draft report on the ninth session (document E/CN.18/2011/L.1), as introduced by Rapporteur Ndiawar Dieng (Senegal).

In concluding remarks, Chairperson Arvids Ozols (Latvia) thanked participants and staff for their spirit of cooperation and hard work.

Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat commended the Bureau’s high level of experience and that of the Secretariat staff.

Closing the ninth session and briefly opening the first meeting of the tenth, the Forum elected, by acclamation, the following Vice-Chairpersons to its incoming Bureau: Anna Masinja (Zambia), Saiful Azam Martinus Abdullah (Malaysia), Srećko Juričić (Croatia), Mario Ruales (Ecuador) and Shulamit Davidovich (Israel).

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.