The Candidate Countries Turkey , Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union welcomes the report of the 7th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests for the consideration of the Council. 15 years after UNCED, intense policy discussions and negotiations made valuable contributions towards building consensus on a large number of elements of forest policy and sustainable forest management in particular. At UNFF7, the member states of the UN reached agreement on a next crucial step in promoting a holistic approach to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
The European Union considers that the outcome of the UNFF7 constitutes a landmark in the context of international forest policy and cooperation. For the first time in global forest negotiations, the object of the international debates on forests sustainable forest management has been generally described as a dynamic and evolving concept, (which) aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests, for the benefit of present and future generations.
The three main results achieved at the UNFF7 were, indeed, the conclusion and adoption of a non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests, the agreement on and adoption of the multi-year programme of work (MYPOW) of the UNFF for 2007-2015 and the commitment to develop and consider a voluntary global financial mechanism / portfolio approach / forest financing framework for all types of forests, with a view to its adoption at the Forums next session (UNFF8).
Despite its voluntary nature, the European Union considers the non legally binding instrument as useful basis for addressing forest issues, at the international, regional and national level. The EU believes that through the conceptual framework for sustainable forest management, the implementation of this instrument can contribute to achieve the global objectives on forests.
The MYPOW for 2007-2015 includes very important topics such as the role of forests in peoples livelihoods and in eradicating poverty (ninth session) and the correlation between forests and economic development (tenth session). The European Union is convinced that these subject matters, and others to be covered during the UNFF sessions, will allow clear and compelling policy debates concerning the contribution of forests to other global environmental agreements and to the accomplishment of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
Bearing in mind that the voluntary global financial mechanism / portfolio approach / forest financing framework is a fundamental piece to mobilize significantly increased, new and additional resources from all sources, the European Union reiterates the invitation made to the World Bank and to other organizations which are members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) to thoroughly prepare the basis for further discussions on this issue, for the ad-hoc expert group next year.
The European Union strongly believes that, altogether, these three major outcomes of the UNFF7, their judicious implementation and the continuing coordination and cooperation with other policy areas, instruments and processes that have an impact on forest will allow forests and its sustainable management to consistently contribute to the major objective of sustainable development.
In fact, we consider that, by fulfilling the tasks now launched, we will be able to reverse the loss of forest cover and halt forest degradation, and by doing so, we will also contribute to the improvement of all forest-dependent peoples livelihoods and to poverty eradication.
However, and although recognizing these important steps undertaken by the international community in UNFF7, the European Union is still of the opinion that a legally binding instrument on all types of forests would be the most effective means to address forest issues in a global and integrated way.
The European Union attaches great importance to the work of the Forum and to the intergovernmental forest policy process.
It is the task of this ECOSOC Session to consider the report of the 7th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests and decide on the draft resolution in a manner that reinforces the intergovernmental forest policy process and enables the Forum to efficiently perform its role as a unique functional commission of the ECOSOC.
The Report of the Forum on its 7th Session and the draft resolutions contained in it are both acceptable to the European Union.
We are well aware of the huge amount of work ahead of us during the next 8 years, but at the same time we are confident that through constructive cooperation with all other partners and interested stakeholders we will succeed in accomplishing our objectives.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.