31 July 2018
COFO 24 Focuses on SDGs, Launches Forest and Farm Facility Initiative Phase Two
Tea pickers in Mt. Kenya region / Photo credit Neil Palmer (CIAT)
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COFO 24 underscored the importance of forests in supporting human livelihoods and achieving SDGs related to climate, food security, drinking water, renewable energy and rural development.

FAO and its partners launched the second stage of the FFF initiative, which will focus on strengthening the capacity of forest and farm producer organizations to develop climate resilient landscapes, generate work opportunities for women and youth, help the rural poor, and strengthen enterprise.

20 July 2018: The 24th session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) called for increased efforts in the forest sector to achieve the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The event focused on the theme, ‘Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals—from aspiration to action.’

COFO 24 convened from 16-20 July, at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. The event took place in conjunction with the World Forest Week, a series of meetings and events sponsored by FAO and its partners to share knowledge, accomplishments and achievements. Side events discussed policy and technical issues affecting the forest sector.

In an opening video address, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, “urgent action is needed to sustain and preserve the planet’s forests” to achieve the SDGs. He highlighted FAO’s ‘The State of the World’s Forests 2018,’ which analyzes the linkages between forests and the SDGs and highlights the role of forests and trees in meeting SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 15 (life on land). da Silva recommended urgent action to restore degraded forests and halt deforestation to achieve the Goals.

FAO launched the second stage of the Forest and Farm Facility Initiative (FFF), an international partnership that boosts the technical and business capacities of forest and farm producer organizations to improve food security and tackle climate change. Over the next five years, FFF plans to increase the number of participating countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa from 10 to 25. FFF’s second phase will increase access to markets, finance and training, with a focus on vulnerable groups, such as women and youth. The initiative plans to scale up efforts to help forest and farm producers develop climate resilient landscapes, generate work opportunities for women and youth, encourage better policies to help the rural poor, and strengthen enterprises.

To coincide with the launch of the second phase of the FFF initiative, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a report that highlights the role of smallholder production in achieving sustainable development. The report titled, ‘The World’s Largest Private Sector? Recognizing the Cumulative Economic Value of Small-scale Forest and Farm Producers,’ found that the combined value of smallholder crops – charcoal, fuelwood and non-wood forest products – is between US$869 billion and US$1.29 trillion. A COFO 24 side event discussed the findings of the report and the outcomes of the FFF’s first five years. Participants underscored the importance of raising awareness among decision-makers on the role of smallholders in national and global economies. Participants recommended continuing to improve data collection on small producers to increase understanding of the linkages among smallholders, landscapes and markets and to better inform policies on smallholders.

In a separate event, participants recognized the importance of collaboration between the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) and the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) in improving governance for reducing deforestation and forest degradation. The event underscored the importance of improving the governance of forest and lands for countries to achieve the SDGs and meet their climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement, stressing the benefits of coordinating the two initiatives at the country level. Participants said better coordination could strengthen governance, increase transparency, halt illegal logging, clarify land tenure and facilitate stakeholder engagement, all of which would contribute to achieving a number of the SDGs, particularly SDGs 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land).

During a special session on creating synergies between forestry and social protection, FAO launched two working papers that explore how combining forest policy instruments and social protection can help conserve forests. The papers focus on the role of forest producer organizations in social protection and describe social protection needs and opportunities for forest-dependent communities in Tanzania. The papers recommend forest producer organizations play an increased role in the development and delivery of social protection programmes. During the session, participants shared experiences and discussed how to further promote synergies between forestry and social protection to increase the resilience of forest-dependent communities.

Sessions also addressed: progress on forest monitoring for REDD+; forest education for a sustainable future; the role of forest and farm producer organizations in climate and resilient landscapes and improved livelihoods; synergies between forest and water management; and urban and peri-urban forestry. [COFO 24 Website] [FAO Press Release on Opening] [FAO Press Release on FFF Launch] [UN Press Release on FFF Launch] [FAO Press Release on FFF Publication] [FAO Press Release on Producer Organizations Side Event] [FAO Press Release on REDD+ and FLEGT Side Event] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on SOFO Report]

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