Special Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests

Friday, 30 October 2009 | UN Headquarters, New York, US

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Nadia Osman, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan, discussed the particular difficulties confronting developing countries. “The financial and economic crises have deepened the challenges that developing countries face in achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty and hunger.” “The primary barrier to sustainable forest management in developing countries is insufficient funding,” she added.

Baya Bensmail (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed the challenges in financing due to the complex and time-consuming procedures to be followed.

The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) met in Special Session at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, 30 October 2009. At the special session, delegates reached a decision on the need for urgent global action to catalyze funding for sustainable forest management around the world.

The decision on financing for sustainable forest management marks the culmination of over seventeen years of debate on this issue, dating back to the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. “The adoption of this decision demonstrates the willingness of all the partners to work together in carrying out the mission of this Forum, i.e. to promote sustainable forest management to the benefit of our populations.” observed Fernando Coimbra, Head of the Environment Division, Brazilian Ministry of External Relations.

To respond to these concerns, this decision by the UN Forum on Forests launches two significant initiatives. The Forum will establish an intergovernmental process to conduct in-depth analysis of all aspects of forest financing over the next four years, and a “Facilitative Process” on forest financing, to assist countries to mobilize funding from all sources.

The intergovernmental ad hoc expert group will analyze existing financing strategies for sustainable forest management, and explore ways to improve access to funds, including the option of establishing a voluntary global forest fund.

The facilitative process addresses the special needs of countries that have faced a 20-year decline in forest financing. Specifically, these include least developed countries, low forest cover countries, high forest cover countries with low deforestation, low to medium income countries, small-island developing states and low-income countries in Africa.

To jumpstart the process, the Facilitative Process has received immediate support, including for a first concrete project on “Facilitating Financing for Sustainable Forest Management in small island developing States (SIDS) and Low-Forest Cover Countries (LFCCs),” from the Government of the United Kingdom. This project will be implemented by the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat as the first phase of a larger project with other phases to be financed by a large multilateral donor. The immediate objective of this first component of an overall project is to strengthen the capacity development of small island developing states and low forest cover countries to better address the main obstacles and challenges in financing sustainable forest management, and associated global, national and local environmental public goods, and to improve the governance frameworks to secure a conducive policy environment for sustainable forest management.

These initiatives will focus on positive attitude and innovative approaches in the process, emphasized UNFF 9 Chair Arvids Ozols (Latvia), pictured here with Boen Purnama (Indonesia) and Hans Hoogeveen (the Netherlands), co-facilitators of the informal consultations that resulted in the agreement on financing.

Jan McAlpine, Director, UN Forum on Forests Secretariat said, “It is critical that all options for funding and funding mechanisms be considered for the benefit of forests around the world.” Jan McAlpine, Jomo Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN, and UNFF 9 Chair Arvids Ozols.

L-R: Jan McAlpine, Director, UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, and Jomo Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

L-R: Baya Bensmail (Algeria), Jan McAlpine, Director, UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, and Nadia Osman, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan.

Photos and coverage provided by the UNFF Secretariat.
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