UNFF Special Event Marks International Day of Forests

Unff21 March 2014: In commemoration of the second International Day of Forests, the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organized a special event under the theme, ‘Celebrating Forests for Sustainable Development,' which included a panel discussion on ‘Women as agents of change for forests and sustainable development.' In 2012, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 21 March as the International Day of Forests to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

In the keynote address, Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General, Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, emphasized that, “true sustainability can only be achieved at the national and regional level when sustainability takes root at home and women are fundamental to achieving this.” Despite some progress, Malcorra noted that women are often excluded from the decision-making processes related to the sustainable management of forests. She added that only by empowering women, and in particular rural women, will they will fulfill their potential as critical agents of change and drivers of sustainable development.

At the event, the Russian Federation gave its support to the creation of a legally-binding agreement on forests in Europe, provided that such an agreement is regional in scope and administered by UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It also announced that it will host the 72nd Commission of the UNECE Committee on Forests in the last trimester of 2014, in Kazan. The Commission will focus on the practical contributions of forests to sustainable development.

Addressing the meeting, Brazil announced the reduction of its national deforestation rate by 84 percent between 2004 and 2012, noting that between August 2013 and February 2014, deforestation dropped 19 percent. Argentina took the opportunity to highlight its human-centered approach to the sustainable management of forests and its strong support of: government projects promoting ecosystem-management technology for the conservation of biodiversity; technologies for the sustainable management of natural resources; and sustainable rural production.

Forest Eleven (F-11), represented by Finland, Indonesia, Peru, Suriname and Turkey, also took the floor and urged the inclusion of forests in the post-2015 development agenda. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) emphasized that improving information on forest resources is a key factor in halting illegal deforestation and forest degradation.

The event was chaired by Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General. Other speakers included: Marianne Odette Bibalou, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Gabonese Republic to the UN; UNFF Forest Heroes Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva ; and documentary filmmaker Rosa Rogers. The special event was held at UN Headquarters in NY, US. [UN News] [Event Details] [UNFF Flyer][IISD RS Sources]