The tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF10) opened today in Istanbul, Turkey. The meeting convened in plenary throughout the day. In the morning session the plenary addressed the organization of work, the assessment of progress made on the implementation of the Forest Instrument, and forests and economic development. The Ministerial Segment of the meeting was also opened. In the afternoon, the plenary considered emerging issues and MoI for SFM, and the delegates heard statements as part of the Ministerial Segment.
ORGANIZATION OF WORK: Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, opened UNFF10 and delegates recalled Bureau members elected at the first session of UNFF10: Srecko Juricic (Croatia); Mario Ruales Carranza (Ecuador); Shuli Davidovich (Israel); Saiful Azam Martinus Abdullah (Malaysia); and Anna Masinja (Zambia). They elected by acclamation Carranza as UNFF10 Chair and Co-Chair of the Ministerial Segment, and Abdullah as Rapporteur.
Delegates adopted the agenda (E/CN.18/2013/1/Rev.1) and accepted the nomination of Veysel Eroğlu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkey, as Co-Chair of the Ministerial Segment. UNFF10 Chair Carranza highlighted the organization of work for UNFF10, noting work would take place under two working groups after the Ministerial Segment concludes. Delegates agreed that Davidovich and Masinja will co-chair Working Group 1 and Juricic and Abdullah will co-chair Working Group 2.
PROGRESS MADE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FOREST INSTRUMENT: UNFF Director Jan McAlpine summarized the Report of the Secretary-General on Assessment of Progress Made on the Implementation of the NLBI and Towards Achievement of the Four GOFs (E/CN.18/2013/2). She noted that the Forest Instrument’s provisions are being increasingly incorporated into national policies and programmes, and highlighted a growing recognition of the socio-economic benefits of forests and evidence of the contribution of SFM to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
FORESTS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: UNFF Director McAlpine presented the Report of the Secretary-General on Forests and Economic Development (E/CN.18/2013/4) and the Report of the Secretary-General on Conclusions and Recommendations for Addressing Key Challenges of Forests and Economic Development (E/CN.18/2013/5), outlining issues relating to the cash and non-cash contributions of forests to economic development, and the relationship between forests and other sectors. She highlighted challenges, such as lack of sufficient data and the need to identify which categories are priority areas, and called for greater South-South information exchange.
EMERGING ISSUES: In the afternoon, UNFF Director McAlpine introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on Emerging Issues (E/CN.18/2013/6), noting that three emerging issues had been identified: the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda; the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20); and the future of the IAF. She said that the review of the IAF, scheduled for 2015, will, inter alia, assess the UNFF and its functions, as well as the ongoing role of the CPF. She stated that the report urged UNFF10 to discuss preparations for the review, including a possible roadmap, intersessional work and financial implications. McAlpine further noted the UNFF should discuss different possibilities for the future IAF, including a legally-binding agreement, a framework agreement or continuation of the Forest Instrument.
MoI: In the afternoon, UNFF Director McAlpine introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on MoI for SFM (E/CN.18/2013/11 and E/CN.18/2013/12), noting that MoI include forest financing and technology exchange. She outlined the different positions regarding forest financing, including the proposal for a global forest fund and efforts to ensure more efficient use of currently available funding. She said the report recognizes that establishing a fund will require longer-term efforts to consider modalities, but immediate decisions should be made to ensure monetary support for those countries that urgently need it. Outlining the outcomes of the AHEG, she noted the identification of other sources of forest financing, including at the national and regional levels, and through other fora such as the climate and biodiversity processes.
Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chair, Global Environment Facility (GEF), announced that the GEF Incentive Mechanism for Forests extended its work through 2010-2014 and will provide up to US$ 1 billion for implementation of SFM and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries plus the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) programmes during that period.
MINISTERIAL SEGMENT: In the morning, UNFF10 Chair and UNFF10 Ministerial Segment Co-Chair Carranza opened the Ministerial Segment, thanking the Government of Turkey for hosting the meeting. He underscored that although the social, cultural and environmental functions of forests are globally recognized, the economic contribution of forests to local, national and global economies is far less acknowledged. He highlighted intersessional work undertaken by the AHEG on forest financing, saying that UNFF10 presents an opportunity to take concrete action in this area.
UNFF10 Ministerial Segment Co-Chair Eroğlu stressed the need to alleviate global poverty and underlined the role of forests in achieving this goal. He urged participants to focus on the relationship between forests and economic development, not just within the framework of the environment but also for sustainable development.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister, Turkey, underlined the role of forests in preventing erosion, protecting potable water, preserving ecosystems and alleviating poverty, and urged that SFM be included in the post-2015 development agenda. He emphasized the role of the UNFF in moving the world to a new understanding of the steps necessary to protect forests.
President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Néstor Osorio, Permanent Representative to the UN, Colombia, highlighted the UNFF’s role in integrating the three pillars of sustainable development and lauded it for ensuring that forests remain prominent within the global development agenda.
Under-Secretary-General Wu stated that SFM must have robust institutional and policy frameworks, including adequate and sustainable financing, for it to be successful. He hoped that UNFF10 will make an important contribution towards ensuring this.
UNFF Director Jan McAlpine, introduced the UNFF10 programme of work designed to support consideration of priority issues, such as the connection of forests to social, economic and environmental issues, and the convergence of UNFF10 outcomes with the post-2015 development agenda and Rio+20 outcomes. She said that UNFF10 is poised to produce decisions on the connection between forests and economic development and the need for forest financing to accomplish the objectives of the Forest Principles and the Forest Instrument.
Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, and Chair, CPF, underscored the opportune timing to relate UNFF10 to the outcomes of Rio+20, the post-2015 development agenda, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. He said the landscape approach of the CPF sets a mechanism for a cross-sectoral review and builds awareness of the socioeconomic contributions of forests to human development.
During ministerial statements in the afternoon, Inia Batikoto Seruiratu, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests and Provincial Development, Fiji, for the G-77/CHINA, with Henri Djombo, Minister of Economy, Forestry and Sustainable Development, the Republic of the Congo, for the African Group, and Gabriel Tchango, Minister of Water and Forests, Gabon, Jean Claude Nduwayo, Minister of Water, Environment, Land and Urban Planning, Burundi, Mathieu Babaud Darret, Minister of Water and Forests, Côte d’Ivoire, and Luis Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Under-Secretary-General for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology, Brazil, supported the establishment of a global forest fund focusing on developing countries. The AFRICAN GROUP, with Nduwayo and Darret, also called for establishing an African forest fund. Darret emphasized the financial barriers faced by African countries, calling for a sustainable forest finance mechanism.
Ginma do Kromosoeto, Minister of Spatial Planning, Land and Forest Management, Suriname, called for adequate financial resources to support developing countries in achieving the goals of the Forest Instrument. Blaise Ahanhanzo-Glèlè, Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development, speaking on behalf of Benin, highlighted the need to assess the performance of current forest financing programmes in order to inform the future management of such programmes.
Bautista Rojas Gómez, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Dominican Republic, and Christine Sagno, National Director of Water and Forests, Guinea, said there is a need to increase support for capacity building. Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister of Water and Environment, Uganda, called for international support for management of forest estates and plantations as well as facilitating access to forest funds by removing stringent conditions and procedures, while Waleed Assaf, Minister of Agriculture, Palestine, urged increased funding for afforestation projects.
The G-77/CHINA and Tchango supported the Rio+20 outcome document, “The World We Want,” and participation of the UNFF in the post-2015 development agenda. Zulkifli Hassan, Minister of Forestry, Indonesia, stressed the crucial timing of UNFF10 in ensuring synergies between the UNFF and the post-2015 development agenda.
Blaise Ahanhanzo-Glèlè, Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development, Benin, for LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDCs), highlighted recommendations in UNEP’s Green Economy Report to realize the contribution of forests to a green economy, and emphasized that addressing desertification and drought is a prerequisite to SFM. Jari Koskinen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland, called for working towards a green bio-based economy, with forests at its heart, and urged investment in forests.
Bela Szombati, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Turkey, underlined that forests contribute to economic development through their cash value, and called for a clear roadmap so that the UNFF can make a decision on its mandate at the next session.
Jean Omer Beriziky, Prime Minister and Minister of Environment and Forests, Madagascar, emphasized the importance of engaging all stakeholders in forest protection efforts, including communities, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Sagno called for increasing regional dialogue on forests.
Chadi Mohanna, Ministry of Agriculture, Lebanon, Mduduzi Duncan Dlamini, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Swaziland, Satya Veyash Faugoo, Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security, Mauritius, Fatmir Mediu, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration, Albania, Abdeladim Lhafi, High Commissioner for Water, Forests and Combating Desertification, Morocco, and Alireza Orangi, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Iran, highlighted various national forest initiatives, including efforts to implement SFM.
Susil Premajayanth, Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, Sri Lanka, stressed that forest protection efforts should balance the interests of maintaining harmony between man and nature, and the environment and development. Mikhail Amelyanovich, Minister of Forests, Belarus, underscored the importance of the UNFF’s efforts to ensure quality of life and wellbeing for populations reliant on forests. Lhafi called for a coherent policy with a legal framework to incorporate all sectors, including evaluation policies and mobilization of funding.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Delegates braved a wet morning for the opening session of UNFF10, hearing speeches from dignitaries on the important issues to be tackled, such as sustainable forest financing and the role of forests in the post-2015 development agenda. It became clear very early on that delegates were trying to decide whether a global forest fund would be feasible or if financing should be addressed through other means. A couple of developing country delegates were heard lamenting conditionalities attached to those “other means.” Others opined that alternatives such as improving the ability to access funds could be considered as an interim solution.
Delegates were also be heard discussing the 2015 review of the IAF. Recalling the Secretary-General’s Report on Emerging Issues, many delegates said that it was imperative for UNFF10 to organize and plan for the 2015 review to ensure that forests remain prominent on the development agenda as opposed to debating what should happen post-2015. Some parties, however, cautioned that a decision on the 2015 review and on financing could be seen as being contingent on each other, especially in light of their organization within the same Working Group.