UNFF10 High-Level Roundtables Focus on SDGs, Enhanced Collaboration

9 April 2013: High-level roundtable discussions at the tenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF10) have considered linkages between forests and economic development, as well as forests in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) outcomes and the post-2015 development agenda.

The discussions brought together high-level government representatives that identified the natural resources cross-cutting issue under the post-2015 discussions as a possible entry point for forests. Other discussions on Rio+20 and the post-2015 development agenda focused on the feasibility of a forest-related sustainable development goal (SDG) that considers the social, economic and environmental benefits arising from the conservation and sustainable use of forests.

Concerns during discussions centered on the disconnect between the timeline for the development of the SDGs and the negotiation of the international arrangement on forests beyond 2015. There was also concern about UNFF's role in advising on the SDGs, as well as the relevance to the development of a legally versus non-legally binding agreement on forests.

In discussions on forests and economic development, participants reflected on positive results with regard to forest cover and trees outside of forests, as well as the cross-sectoral nature of forest management. Participants identified governance reform and South-South cooperation as two investment areas that have delivered benefits for forests.

Other investments cited by participants as successful included the diversification in forest product markets and marketing, support for emerging technologies and awareness-raising on the value of forests. Participants also identified a number of challenges such as a lack of financing and incomplete information on forest resources and their benefits.

Finally, following the roundtable, interactive discussions focused on forest financing and the integration of forest management into other sectors. Participants highlighted a number of threats to forests including from high rates of poverty, a lack of awareness of the ecosystem services provided by forests, agricultural expansion, the use of wood-fuel and climate change.

Other issues noted as important for the future of forests and forest financing included: recognition of the role of women in forest management; stakeholder engagement and community forestry; the role of forests in natural disaster management; long-term planning for forests; more complete valuation of forests; improved reporting on forests; and enhanced cooperation with regional forest agreements and initiatives. [ECOSOC Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of UNFF10]