Written by Ethan Miller
Peter Besseau, the chair of this year’s session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), kicked off this year’s gathering at the United Nations in New York with one clear message: this meeting is going to be different.
Contextually, this year’s session comes at an opportune time for action and implementation. Just a few months earlier, on 20 January, 2017, the 197 Member States agreed on the first ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF). Marked by
six Global Forest Goals, the UNSPF builds on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by formalizing the ‘how’ of achieving the forest-relevant Sustainable Development Goals (as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development).
The need for concrete implementation demands a different type of UNFF. As Besseau explained in his opening remarks, this meeting will include smaller and more technical sessions, designed to facilitate more focused discussion and collaboration between parties.
As countries embark on implementing their commitments, sharing lessons learned, successes, and challenges because ever-more important. And this year’s meeting is designed to do just that.
In the opening session, 20 different countries shared their experiences and plans for achieving the Global Forest Goals. The common thread was that the UNSPF is a momentous occasion for galvanizing action at the national and international level. But if its goals are to be achieved a few items need to be prioritized:
- Mobilize financing mechanisms for sustainable forest management
- Create a universal reporting mechanism for progress toward the Global Forest Goals
- Facilitate technology transfer to and between developing countries
While many other suggestions and comments were made, many of the delegates emphasized the need to figure these three items out before significant progress could be made.
The first session of this year’s Forum on Forests set the tone for the week. This week is about getting to the bottom of implementation; how to do it and who needs to do what to make it happen. With smaller side events, frank conversations, and hundreds of passionate participants, this year’s session promises to shape the dialogue and pace of forest conservation and management around the world.