The UN celebrated the annual International Day of Forests on 21 March with a special event at Headquarters in New York, US.
The theme of the celebration, 'Create a Climate Smart Future,' focused on the intersection of forests with resilience, adaptation, mitigation and the global climate and development discussions.
21 March 2015: The UN celebrated the annual International Day of Forests on 21 March with a special event at Headquarters in New York, US. The theme of the celebration, ‘Create a Climate Smart Future,’ focused on the intersection of forests with resilience, adaptation, mitigation and the global climate and development discussions.
The event took place on 20 March 2015, and was chaired by Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat. Sobral Filho read a statement on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, explaining that 1.6 billion people in the world depend directly on forests for food, fuel, shelter and income. The UNFF Director also highlighted the centrality of forests to the upcoming post-2015 development agenda, as well as their importance for ensuring climate-resilient societies. “Forests are on the front lines of climate change,” Sobral said, emphasizing the need to preserve and sustainably manage global forests.
Marianne Odette Bibalou, Deputy Permanent Representative of Gabon, delivered a statement on the need to balance a variety of land-use priorities, including agriculture, forestry, conservation and urban development. She said her government is a “staunch supporter” of an international arrangement on forests, and announced that Gabonese Minister for Water and Forestry, Noël Nelson Messone, will chair the eleventh session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 11) in May 2015.
Speakers then engaged in a panel on forest-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation. Narinder Karkar, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said many ecosystem-based adaptation efforts also result in tangible mitigation benefits, and stressed the need for climate-smart forest management and landscape restoration strategies. Sharon Brennen-Haylock, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Liaison Office New York, US called for addressing deforestation and food security in an integrated way. Melchiade Bukuru, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Liaison Office NY, US, said that his office is advising UN climate negotiators on how stopping land degradation will contribute to mitigation efforts, and stressed the importance of the target for a land degradation neutral world in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He quoted French writer François-René de Chateaubriand who said, “Forests precede civilizations, and deserts succeed them,” and called for the world to prevent this scenario.
Delegates of Member States then delivered interventions and remarks. Brazil highlighted the importance of reducing demand for products that cause deforestation, and said the UNFF is the appropriate forum for this discussion. Israel emphasized the importance of forests for the Jewish culture, and offered his country’s hub of green knowledge on forestry and desertification to aid developing countries. The Russian Federation said that the UNFF should play an important role in implementing the SDG pertaining to forests. Japan stated his country’s intentions with regard to allocating some of the USD$1.5 billion it pledged to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to the forest sector to achieve significant emission reductions.
Participants also viewed four short films on the value of and challenges facing international forests, titled ‘Branching Out for a Green Economy,’ ‘Adaptation,’ ‘The Sustainable Village of Sikles in Nepal,’ and ‘Togo: Forests in Focus,’ which showed the importance of forests in the lives of people around the world. [IISD RS Sources] [International Day of Forests Website] [Event Programme] [UNFF Website]