The Chair of the 26th session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 26) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) opened the Thursday session by noting that COFO had nearly half of its agenda to complete in just one day. As a result, he said plenary would be extended into the evening and reports from other bodies originally intended for oral presentation would now be submitted in writing to all members. He asked members to resist the urge to “Christmas tree” (add) new items to Committee conclusion texts and to only consider substantive and critical changes. Even so, negotiations went past 11:00 pm and not all agenda items were completed.
During the day the Committee addressed: the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) and the use of remote sensing in the FRA; finance and investment in forest pathways; dialogue with statutory bodies in forestry; development of regional action plans for the FAO Science and Innovation Strategy; outcomes of the XV World Forestry Congress (WFC); implementation of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF) and strengthening FAO’s contribution to the International Arrangements on Forests (IAF); and FAO’s work in forestry under the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31.
On FRA and remote sensing, COFO welcomed preparations for FAO’s 2025 FRA, the flexible approach to voluntary reporting on key indicators, and the recent remote sensing survey. The Committee recommended that FAO continue the development and harmonization of methods and definitions for forest data collection. COFO also invited the FAO to further strengthen the network of remote sensing experts and to develop approaches toward reconciling regional results of FRA country reporting and the remote sensing survey.
Regarding finance, COFO recommended the FAO support Members in efforts to access financing opportunities for forest-based actions, in complementarity and synergy with other initiatives and organizations, including the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) and the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network. COFO also encouraged Members to provide resources supporting conservation, restoration, sustainable use and management of forests and the development of sustainable forest value chains, particularly in developing countries, to enhance capacity building and technical and scientific cooperation.
On dialogue with statutory bodies in forestry, among other things COFO:
- invited FAO to support further integration of important regional forests-related matters;
- invited FAO to support further strengthening the cross-sectoral work of the Regional Forest Commissions (RFCs), especially on forestry and agrifood systems; and
- invited the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions (Silva Mediterranea) to further align the work plans of its working groups with global and regional agendas.
As for the discussion about the development of regional action plans for the FAO Science and Innovation Strategy, COFO encouraged the FAO to ensure that regional action plans are aligned and contribute to the implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031.
Regarding the WFC, COFO Members praised the WFC as a success and highlighted its outcomes, including the Seoul Declaration and the Youth Call for Action. The Committee invited the FAO and Members to implement the Congress' recommendations, as appropriate, and invited Members to consider appropriate actions for supporting youth engagement in forestry at all levels.
On dialogue with statutory bodies in forestry, among other things COFO: on the UNSPF and IAF, COFO recommended FAO strengthen its leadership role in the CPF and facilitate active participation of CPF in the midterm review of the IAF.
COFO’s conclusion of the discussion on the FAO’s work in forestry under the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 stalled over provisions referring to impacts of the war in Ukraine, opposed by Belarus, the Russian Federation and Venezuela. Plenary will return to this issue in a special session on Friday morning.