15th Session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF15)

4 May – 4 June 2020 | Online

United Nations Forum on Forests – UNFF

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The fifteenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF15) was supposed to convene from 4-8 May 2020 at UN Headquarters in New York. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNFF Bureau decided to hold a half-day virtual session in June 2020.

As outlined in the UNFF Quadrennial Programme of Work (4POW) for the period 2017-2020, UNFF15 as an “even-year” session should have focused on policy dialogue, development, and decision-making. UNFF15 was expected to adopt a resolution on several important issues including the 4POW for 2021-2024, and hold a high-level segment to adopt a ministerial declaration. See Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary and analysis of UNFF14.

Due to the closure of the United Nations Headquarters building since March 2020, as a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 circumstances, the UNFF15 Bureau held extraordinary virtual meetings on 16 and 23 March 2020, and discussed different scenarios for UNFF15. The Bureau decided:

  • UNFF15 would be scaled down to a half-day session to adopt the session’s resolution;
  • The draft resolution would be considered and agreed, following the silence procedure (The silence procedure provides UN Member States with at least 72 hours to raise objections on a draft resolution or decision, and allows for explanations of position);
  • To postpone the high level segment, and adoption of the ministerial declaration to UNFF16 in 2021; and
  • UNFF members should participate in and contribute to Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in order to draw important forest-related elements for the UNFF16 Ministerial Declaration and the 4POW for 2021-2024.

In preparation for the virtual meeting, the Bureau prepared the UNFF15 draft resolution through a transparent and consultative process involving submission of inputs by members and stakeholders, and circulation of revisions by email. UNFF member countries held a virtual consultation on 4 June 2020 with an aim of reaching consensus on pending issues. The final draft resolution is expected to be adopted under the silence procedure in June 2020.