FNUF: Forum on Forests concludes session with adoption of communications strategy on implementation of United Nations Strategic Plan for forests



The United Nations Forum on Forests, concluding its thirteenth session this afternoon, adopted an omnibus resolution regarding the activities it will carry out to support the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests (2017-2030). The aim is to implement a communication and outreach strategy, to raise public awareness of the Plan. 



This plan is not sufficiently known, the Director of the Secretariat of the UNFF, Mr. Manoel Sobral-Filho admitted, while several speakers, for their part, highlighted "the forestry sector’s image problem".  "The more we talk about it, the easier its implementation will be," said Mr. Sobral-Filho. 



The stakes of this implementation are high, stressed the Session chair, Mr. Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, Malaysia, because if the Member States faithfully adhere to the Strategic Plan, we will be able not only to recover the loss forest cover, but also increase it by 3% each year.  Established in 2000 by a resolution of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Forum is the only intergovernmental forum within the United Nations that is empowered to comprehensively discuss environmental and forest-related socio-economic issues.



Over the course of one week, the Forum reviewed, as a matter of priority, the implementation of the Strategic Plan on forests which provides a comprehensive framework for action to ensure sustainable management of all types of forests and trees in general, and to halt deforestation and forest degradation.  The planet loses an average of 13 million hectares of forest cover each year.



The Strategic Plan, adopted in April 2017 by the General Assembly, is designed around six objectives and 26 targets, which, as all the stakeholders recalled during several round tables, are directly related to those of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  Forests cover more than 30% of the earth’s surface; approximately 1.6 billion people, which is 25% of the global population, including 70 million indigenous people, depend on them for their livelihood.



The omnibus resolution was adopted in its orally revised English version, after amendments had been proposed by some delegations and following the UNFF Chair’s ruling.  The resolution underscores the importance of conducting communication efforts around the plan, notably highlighting and sharing best practices and success stories in its implementation.  With this text, the Forum adopted the communication strategy, enclosed in the Annex. 



The strategy aims inter alia to bolster awareness of the vital importance of forests for life on earth and human well-being, promote sustainable forest management and foster the implementation of the above-mentioned plan.  The strategy’s targets include the Member States, the UN system, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, regional and international organizations, major groups, opinion-makers and lastly the general public. 



The main messages of this campaign aim to highlight the idea that people depend on forests for their daily lives, including in urban environments, as well as the central role of the Forum as relates to forests in helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Social networks are one of the preferred communication channels envisaged by the campaign.  The Secretariat of the Forum will report on progress in implementing the strategy at its next session. 



As regards the means of implementation, the Forum especially welcomes progress made in operationalizing the global network to facilitate forest financing and adopts the guidelines for its operations, which are contained in a second annex to the resolution.  In an oral note, the Director of the UNFF Secretariat estimated the financial implications of the resolution at USD 312,900.



Finally, regarding the reform of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs relating to the Forum, an item which had been included on the agenda at the request of Switzerland, the resolution stresses the importance of   "preserving the current and future capacity" of the Forum, so that it can fulfill its "important mandate".  During the session, several delegations requested "guarantees" on the consequences the reform would have for the Forum. 





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