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The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Summary: 12 May 2015, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member states delivered by the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Janis Duklavs, at the United Nations Forum on Forests 11th session (UNFF11) High Level Segment

President of ECOSOC, Chairman, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor and pleasure for me to address this High Level Segment of the 11th session of the UN Forum on Forests on behalf of EU and its 28 Member States.

With its landmark resolution of October 2000, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, established the United Nations Forum on Forests, a subsidiary body of the ECOSOC. It has a universal membership and its main objective and principal functions are still valid today.

Fifteen years have passed since then and the UNFF, as the main element of International Arrangement on Forests, has allowed us to make progress in advancing the global discussion on forest issues adopting a holistic and integrated approach to these matters.

Some milestones along the road that we wish to highlight are:

  • The adoption of the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests.
  • Successes in fostering awareness raising on the importance of the multifunctionality of forests and the vital contribution of sustainable forest management to sustainable development and poverty eradication.
  • The establishment of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests to foster stronger collaboration and cooperation among the key forest-related organizations at the global level.
  • The overall amount of financing available for SFM including ODA has increased considerably.

Notwithstanding this, deforestation and forest degradation in the world continue at an alarming rate.

The main underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation lies outside the forest sector, such as conversion of forests to other uses like agriculture, mining, urbanization. But also unsustainable forest management practices hampers sustainable development of all types of forests. We all in this room share responsibility for tackling illegal harvesting and associated trade in forest products, trade in commodities associated with deforestation.

Moreover, we see that forest policy is fragmented and governance and law enforcement in the forest sector is often weak. Other challenges that we need to tackle are lack of reliable information on forest resources, and under-valuation of the benefits provided by non-timber forest products and ecosystem services.

Hence, due to these challenges we urgently need to address these if we are to achieve our shared global objectives on forests. Our well-being of present and future generations and the fate of our planet depend on this.

Mr. Chairman,

We believe that the UNFF11 Ministerial Declaration is a great opportunity for us to renew our strong commitment to the sustainable forest management. Thus providing a clear vision about their contribution to society including in the context of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda and all other forest-related processes.

The EU and its MS want to see an arrangement that focuses on promoting sustainable forest management and on combating deforestation and forest degradation. There is still space to improve common international understanding of the concept of Sustainable Forest Management, to share lessons learnt and to strengthen monitoring, assessment and reporting.

We want the future international arrangement to be more strategic and we therefore support the development of a Strategic Plan and strengthening of CPF and enhancing of the Facilitative Process.

We also want to highlight that sustainably managed forest resources offers many opportunities. Forests provide a secure basis for a bio-based economy that contributes to sustainable development, poverty reduction, food security and livelihood. There are great opportunities for creating decent jobs and promoting equal opportunities for men and women.

We believe that a precondition for that is strengthened forest governance, including secure land tenure rights and participation of Major groups and other stakeholders at all levels. The voices of those non-governmental actors must be heard loud and better and we must find ways to improve the modalities of their active participation in the forums work.

Let me give you two examples where EU and its MS are working on the governance with partners around the world. First, the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, through which the EU and a number of timber producing countries have established close partnerships to improve forest governance and to tackle the problem of illegal logging.

Another example is the implementation of REDD+. We urge you all to consider the importance of forests and sustainable forest management in both climate change mitigation and adaptation and that you include action on forests in nationally determined contributions.

We should enhance the added value of an intergovernmental process, such as the UNFF, to promote holistic and coherent cross-sectorial policy approaches to forest-related issues.

We should scale up implementation of the Non Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forest, and other forest-related commitments and ensure that the future international arrangement on forests contributes directly to the wider post-2015 development agenda.

To achieve these objectives, we should all together actively promote and support sustainable forest management at all levels and to reiterate this in the other forest related policy dialogues.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to briefly say a few words about forests in my own country in my own national capacity.

In Latvia, which is the fourth most densely forested country in the EU and where forests cover more than a half of our territory, dynamic development of the forest sector visibly proves the importance of good governance like clearly defined principles for sustainable forest management, agreed long term goals, functions and appropriate institutional structure to deliver on these goals and functions.

Forest policy in Latvia lays down the principles for sustainable forest management, strategic goals and targets as well as state functions to support the development of the sector. Stakeholder involvement in the policy development and active participation in the achievement of the agreed goals is one of the basic preconditions for successful development of the sector.

Finally Mr. Chairman, Let me thank the UNFF11 Bureau and its chairman for their proactive and skillful preparations and leadership of the session and the Secretariat for successful servicing.

  • Ref: EUUN15-092EN
  • EU source: EU Presidency
  • UN forum: Other
  • Date: 12/5/2015

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