Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The acceding countries Bulgaria and Romania, the candidate countries Turkey and Croatia*, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Serbia and Montenegro align themselves with this declaration.
I welcome the opportunity UNFF5 gives us to address such crucial issues that relate to the linkages between forest and the global development agenda, forest restoration, forest law enforcement and governance, as well as the future of the international arrangement on forests.
As such, UNFF 5 will mark a turning point in global forest policy.
The review of the international arrangement on forests, and the discussions on a legal framework for all types of forest provide us with an opportunity which none of us in is this room can afford to miss.
Current trends of deforestation and forest degradation call for greater political commitment and allocation of resources at all levels towards forests and sustainable forest management.
We need to succeed in translating the global forest dialogue into implementation and action on the ground and to build the international dialogue on our experiences in the forest. In Europe we have established such a process with the Ministerial Conferences on the Protection of Forests.
The current international arrangement on forests has not fully succeeded in doing this.
So EU wishes to make it clear that within the EU there is a real will for change.
If we are not able to do so, there is a danger that forests and sustainable forest management as well as the entire international forests dialogue will be relegated to the fringes of international policy discussions.
How does the EU envision a strengthened IAF that could live up to these challenges?
Firstly, we have to agree in setting common goals and quantifiable targets, clearly spelling out our commitment and ambitions in preserving and restoring the worlds forests and their sustainable management. Forests are the major terrestrial ecosystem and largest repository of natural resources and biodiversity. At the same time we need to emphasize the crucial role forest play in poverty reduction, health, the mitigation of climate change, combating desertification and environmental sustainability. Therefore forests do matter and we need to make that message heard loud and clear, particularly during the Millennium Review Summit in September this year.
Secondly, the EU believes that the institutional framework of the current IAF needs to be strengthened. The EU maintains its commitment to SFM and the development of a legally binding instrument for this purpose, as it provides for the necessary commitment and guidance to take action and the necessary means of implementation to achieve common goals.
The EU insists that the outcome of UNFF 5 needs to preserve the perspective for the development of a legally binding instrument on forests and will remain firm on the necessity for the establishment of strategic global goals.
For the EU, UNFF 5 has to be a major step forward for the global forest policy debate, providing a clear signal of our common commitment to sustainable forest management and its implementation on the ground. Therefore we are committed to work with others constructively to build a strong and effective international arrangement for the future.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilsation and Association Process.