UNFF13 Links Strategic Plan on Forests to SDG Achievement, Adopts Communication Strategy
UN Photo/Kibae Park
story highlights

UNFF13 focused on forest-related solutions for sustainable development, with delegates addressing implementation of the UN Strategic Plan on Forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF), announcing voluntary national contributions, and adopting a communication and outreach strategy.

Delegates explored how to establish a UNFF brand and make the Global Forest Goals more comprehensible and accessible, and therefore, more implementable by all.

At its conclusion, UNFF13 adopted an omnibus resolution and its Chair introduced his draft summary for transmittal to the 2018 HLPF.

11 May 2018: The thirteenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF13) focused on forest-related solutions for sustainable development, providing an inclusive process for all stakeholders to report on their actions to achieve the forest-related SDGs. This was the second meeting under the new annual format that alternates implementation and technical advice in odd years with policy dialogue, development, and decision-making in even years.

The meeting featured a ministerial roundtable on forest-based solutions for accelerating achievement of the SDGs. Delegates also addressed implementation of the UN Strategic Plan on Forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF), and a discussed and adopted a Communication and Outreach Strategy. Numerous countries announced voluntary contributions towards sustainable forest management, conservation, and rehabilitation.

At its conclusion, UNFF13 adopted an omnibus resolution. It contains seven sections on: implementation of the UNSPF; monitoring, assessment and reporting; means of implementation; UN system-wide contribution to the implementation of the UNSPF; contribution of the Forum to the HLPF review in 2018; preparation for the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) review in 2019; and information on UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) reform pertaining to UNFF. Annexed to the resolution are the final versions of the Communication and Outreach Strategy and the operations guidelines for the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network (GFFFN).

Numerous statements by Major Groups punctuated the week’s deliberations, with many delegates emphasizing the overarching role of the Forum and affirming that forests bring everyone together. Major Groups and stakeholders positioned themselves alongside the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) and regional and sub-regional bodies, as vehicles of sustainable forest management (SFM), leaning on their unique networks with communities living in forests. UNFF13 was lauded for including a specific panel for non-state actors to present their UNSPF implementation activities and work plans.

Outreach and communications emerged as an important theme, as delegates explored how to establish a UNFF brand and make the Global Forest Goals more comprehensible and accessible, and therefore, more implementable by all. In adopting a Communications and Outreach Strategy, Member States affirmed the need to unpack the UNSPF’s dense text in a way that could trigger broad support for SFM. Delegates also indicated how the UNFF flagship report, to be compiled from national reporting by the UNFF Secretariat, could help distinguish the Forum. They pointed out that the report, with a focus on the achievement of the Global Forest Goals, could serve as the policy-oriented complement, or bookend to the more technical Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA).

At the meeting’s conclusion, its Chair, Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob (Malaysia) introduced his draft summary for transmittal to the HLPF. In July 2018, the HLPF will consider, among other SDGs, progress towards SDG 15 (life on land). The summary highlights the Forum’s key messages, which include:

  • The SDGs can be achieved only if forests are sustainably managed and forest landscapes restored.
  • Achieving SDG 15, especially halting deforestation and restoring degraded forests by 2020 (SDG target 15.2), requires urgent action.
  • To accelerate progress, the application of best practices and tools available needs to be upscaled and expedited.
  • Enhanced synergies are needed among the CPF members and across the UN system to tackle the current fragmentation in global forest governance.
  • Progress in implementing the UNSPF and achieving its Global Forest Goals and targets is an effective means to accelerate achievement of SDGs.

UNFF13 met from 7-11 May 2018 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Approximately 450 participants from Member States, international organizations, the CPF, and Major Groups attended the session. [IISD RS Coverage of UNFF 13] [UNFF Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UNFF 13 Homepage]


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