The focus of the opening day of the 17th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF17) was a High-Level Roundtable on the UNFF response to, role in, and expectations from forest-related multilateral developments. Members of the Forum also started providing updates on their actions in support of the three UNFF thematic priorities for 2021-2022; these will continue on Tuesday.
In a brief opening, delegates elected Miriam MacIntosh (Suriname) as UNFF17 Chair and approved the agenda and organization of work. The Secretariat also introduced the Secretariat Notes on activities in support of the thematic priorities for the biennium 2021–2022 and on challenges faced by countries, strategies adopted, and recovery measures taken by countries to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on forests and the forest sector.
The Roundtable opened with welcoming remarks by UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid, UN Economic and Social Council President Collen Vixen Kelapile, and UN Assistant Secretary-General Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Then high-level panelists representing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, and the Bezos Earth Fund, along with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, discussed:
- the role of the UNFF in the Glasgow Climate Pact and Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use;
- areas in which UNFF and CBD could work together following the adoption of the post-2022 global biodiversity framework;
- the need for UNFF to engage with philanthropies by bringing forward bold but practical ideas;
- challenges faced by regional organizations in supporting sustainable forest management (SFM);
- how IFAD and UNFF could work together on recognizing the role of rural and small-scale producers and Indigenous Peoples, and on leveraging and scaling existing solutions;
- the need for a set of guidelines for conservation and Indigenous engagement; and
- the important role of youth, including the Youth Call for Action presented at the recent XV World Forestry Congress.
During the discussion, delegates remarked on the potential role of the Forum to help turn the tide on deforestation, mobilize financing for forests, and leverage partnerships and strengthen stakeholder engagement. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, closed the roundtable by calling for:
- getting back on track to meeting the Global Forest Goals and forest-related Sustainable Development Goals;
- promoting forest-based solutions that benefit both local communities and the global economy;
- more technical assistance and collaboration to enable countries to use the tools that science and technology have already provided; and
- taking action to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.
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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For UNFF17, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon.