16 January 2017, New York – European Union Opening Statement delivered by Luca Perez, European Commission DG ENV, at the United Nations Forum on Forests Working Group
Mr co-chairs, distinguished delegates,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 28 Member States.
We have strongly supported the decision taken at UNFF11 to develop a UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 and associated 4-year Programmes of Work as means to improve planning and implementation of the post-2015 IAF by ensuring a strategic direction for our future work through clear goals and targets, with strong contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and aligned with forest-related international commitments, prioritize actions, identify clearly the roles of different actors, ensure an accountability framework by monitoring, reporting and assessment.
In this spirit we have contributed actively to the intersessional work for the development of this plan and we look forward to continue our discussion in this Working Group.
We would like to thank you for the revised proposals, which have been significantly improved as compared to earlier version, however there is still a lot of work needed in order to conclude on a Strategic Plan that will make a real difference for the UN system and world’s forest.
The EU and its Member States will provide specific comments to the individual sections of the revised proposals. Nonetheless, we would like to make some general remarks. We reiterate our position that we need to have a UN strategic plan that will guide the work of the entire UN system on forest related issues. The current version of the SP remains still too much focused on the IAF and UNFF and further effort could be made to better reflect forest related international agreement and fora, particularly the Rio Conventions, and cover important issues such as, biodiversity, combating desertification and tenure. Further improvements are therefore needed in this respect. This needs to be reflected throughout the text but also in the mission that we believe could be made more comprehensive. We will make specific proposals on how to strengthen this in due time.
Furthermore, the SP and the 4POW should also clearly recognise important overarching principles such as human rights and partnerships, as well as the cross-cutting issues included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; for example: climate change, gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, and the fight against poverty.
We would like to see issues related to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples better reflected in the Strategic Plan.
Regarding the targets currently proposed, we are not convinced that in all cases these are the most appropriate. In this respect, we would like to recall the EU position that targets should be limited in number and to a maximum extent be built on already existing goals and targets as internationally agreed. Furthermore, some of the proposed targets are too ambitious, with percentages that would be very difficult to agree upon within the limited time we have available at this session, while we miss crucial targets.
As for the thematic areas identified under each goal are too many, their objectives and added value is not clear. Nor is their relation to the targets, or to national and international actions of the UN Forest Instrument.
Regarding the Implementation Framework, we believe that it should focus on efforts of how the SP will be implemented in order for its Goals to be achieved. The concept of “Voluntary Planned Contributions” needs further development. We would also like to reiterate our position that we should not try to alter the functions of the GFFFN and the role of the UNFF Trust Fund, as put forward by UNFF11. On the contrary, the Strategic Plan should make a clear reference to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and any target on resource mobilization aligned with the AAAA approach.
Finally, regarding the Quadrennial Programme of work, this should be discussed in details after we have a basic agreement on the strategic plan as the two documents are intrinsically linked. We will contribute with specific comments but nonetheless we would like to stress –taking into account the current draft proposal- that it should reflect better the alternating character of future UNFF Sessions, with clear links to the goals and targets of the Strategic Plan and to the themes discussed at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
The EU and its Member States stand ready to work constructively with all partners throughout the week in order to reach a common agreement on this important document.
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