UNFF 12 Highlights Means of Implementation and Links to SDGs
UN Photo/Kibae Park
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The twelfth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF 12) convened four days after the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the first-ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF), a strategic UN-system-wide plan for forests, a significant part of which includes linkages to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The panel on MOI provided clear evidence that the Global Forest Finance Facilitation Network (GFFFN) is assisting developing countries to access funding, in addition to a notable increase in sustainable forest management (SFM)-related funding under the latest Global Environment Facility (GEF) cycle.

UNFF 12 adopted omnibus resolutions on: implementation of the UNSPF; means of implementation; and enhanced cooperation on forest-related issues.

5 May 2017: The twelfth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF 12) convened four days after the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the first-ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF), a strategic UN-system-wide plan for forests, a significant part of which includes linkages to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UNSPF and its corresponding quadrennial programme of work for 2017-2020 provided the basis for UNFF 12’s discussions.

UNFF 12 specifically addressed the implementation of the UNSPF, monitoring, assessment and reporting (MAR), means of implementation (MOI) and enhanced cooperation, coordination and engagement on forest-related issues. Other topics for discussion included, inter alia, the Forum Trust Fund, and emerging issues and challenges. As part of the deliberations on the Strategic Plan’s implementation, panel discussions on forests in relation to SDG 1 (Poverty alleviation), SDG 2 (Zero hunger) and SDG 5 (Gender equality) were held. SDG 15, life on land, calls for the sustainable management of forests.

In his opening remarks, the Chair of UNFF 12, Peter Besseau, Canada, said the landmark global action plan translated the aspirations of the International Arrangement on Forest into an actionable plan to guide the Forums’ work for the next 13 years. “The Global Forest Goals reflect the way the Forum is transforming its work to more effectively address the challenges facing forests and the lives of the people who depend on them.”

UNFF 12 undertook a week of implementation and technical discussions. Delegates took part in a number of panel discussions—with a wide range of interdisciplinary expertise— and general debates focused largely on forests’ contribution to relevant SDGs. This was a move away from previous UNFF sessions, which were politically-charged negotiating sessions, and towards more focused technical input and expert advice on priorities, and resources needed, for implementation. A major aim of the new format was to aid UNFF’s vision of being the authoritative coordinating body for forests, in part by providing this technical expertise to other UN fora.

During the discussion on preparing UNFF’s input to the 2018 session of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF), Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), stated that “the UNSPF and the 4POW (four-year programme of work) are declarations of interdependence.” This he noted, would be “the first, very real steps” to the UNSPF, and thus forests, becoming a pillar of the 2030 Agenda.

The panel on MOI provided clear evidence that the Global Forest Finance Facilitation Network (GFFFN) is assisting developing countries to access funding, in addition to a notable increase in sustainable forest management (SFM)-related funding under the latest Global Environment Facility (GEF) cycle. For the session, the GEF released a factsheet summarizing its contributions to SFM.

Panelists during the MOI discussions explained that SFM requires US$150 billion annually. UNFF Director Sobral, when introducing this agenda item, stated that the GFFFN has helped eight countries to date, with many Member States asking for clarification on when they too could be assisted. Gustavo Fonseca, GEF, underscored that 89% of funding from GEF-6 has been allocated to SFM-incentive programmes. In a press briefing on MOI and the importance of diversifying resources, Manoel Sobral Filho, the Director of UNFF, said, “By far the greatest source of forest financing has been – and will continue to be – from commercial private sector investments in sustainable forest management.”

UNFF 12 adopted omnibus resolutions on: implementation of the UNSPF; means of implementation; and enhanced cooperation on forest-related issues. UNFF 12 convened from 1-5 May 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. [IISD-RS Coverage of UNFF 12] [UNFF Press Release on Opening] [UN Press Release] [UNFF Closing Press Release] [GEF Press Release] ] [UNFF Website]


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