Summary: 4 May 2015, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States delivered by H.E. Mr. Ioannis Vrailas, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations at the Eleventh session of the United Nations Forum on Forests: Opening Session
Mister Chairman, Assistant Secretary General, Excellences, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 28 Member States.
1. Mr. Chairman, the EU and its Member States congratulate you on being elected as Chairman of the eleventh session of UNFF and express their conviction that the two weeks of work ahead of us will highly benefit from your leadership.
2. We also thank the UNFF Bureau, the Secretariat, the AHEG co-chairs, and the co-facilitators that have been guiding the work of the Independent Review Team for their central role in the preparatory work for this important session of UNFF. We are prepared to make the important decisions necessary to establish a more efficient, result-oriented and cost-effective post-2015 International Arrangement on Forests (IAF).
3. We are confident that the comprehensive inter-sessional work carried out over the past two years has contributed to identifying several different options for the various building blocks of the new arrangement and, together with the background documentation prepared by the secretariat and the bureau, represents a solid basis for our deliberations over the next two weeks.
4. Mr. Chairman, our deliberations come at a critical juncture. The international community is also engaged in building an overarching post-2015 sustainable development agenda, in which the continued importance of combating deforestation and forest degradation and promoting the sustainable management of all types of forests has already been recognized. The EU and its Member States believe that UNFF has an important contribution to make in the post-2015 framework and that there should be a clear link between the work of the future IAF and the wider sustainable development agenda.
5. It is no secret that the current IAF has not been able to deliver satisfactorily on all of its functions and that the expectations of Members have not been fully met by the current arrangement. We believe that a significant clarification of the mandate and improvement of the functions of a post-2015 IAF is needed, particularly with a view to adding value and coherence to existing forest-related processes, and to deliver on the following objectives:
- Build long-term high level political commitment to forests;
- Strengthen a common international understanding of the concept of SFM and champion an integrated, coherent and holistic approach for its enhanced implementation;
- Enhance policy coherence on forests and foster synergies in global forest related processes to address overlaps and fragmentation of international forest policy;
- Ensure transparent and efficient working methods;
- Foster links between the global forest agenda and the post-2015 development agenda;
- Galvanize the interest and support of the full spectrum of stakeholders in the global forest agenda.
6. We also believe that form should follow function. The new IAF needs to be designed in a manner that will facilitate performing its functions effectively, while avoiding duplications with existing organizations, agreements and/or funding mechanisms. To this end, the post-2015 IAF should have a clear focus on coordination, cooperation and synergies among different forest-related fora and on addressing gaps, as even more forest-related policies and strategies have been set up since the adoption of the Forest Instrument.
7. The UNFF has successfully forged an international Forest Instrument which sets out four ambitious global objectives on forests. We believe that the Forest Instrument should remain an important element of the post-2015 IAF and we are not in favour of reopening negotiations on its content. In order to strengthen its implementation and link it to recent relevant developments such as the SDGs, the EU and its Member States believe that a strategic plan or similar tool is required to increase political commitment to forests. It could also aid in sharpening implementation and ensuring that implementation of the Forest Instrument integrates and furthers the aims of other forest-related initiatives, such as REDD+ or the Aichi Targets.
8. Mr Chairman, we will have many opportunities over the next few days to discuss the specific institutional options. However, at this stage, we would like to reiterate our conviction that a post-2015 UNFF should continue to promote a comprehensive global policy dialogue on forest issues, but also link with other sectors such as agriculture and mining which have an impact on forests. The post-2015 IAF should give particular attention to the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, including through measures such as strengthening forest governance at all levels, securing land tenure rights, promoting sustainable consumption and production and pursuing cross-sectoral policy approaches.
9. The EU and its Member States would also like to reiterate the continued need to strengthen international cooperation and action on forests at all levels, inter alia by taking advantage of synergies and facilitating policy coherence, active cooperation and coordination with other forest-related conventions, agreements and processes. Therefore, a strengthened partnership of relevant forest-related organizations should be one of the key elements of any post-2015 IAF.
10. On forest financing, we welcome the significant progress made in increasing forest-related international development financing in recent years and reiterate that financing for SFM should continue to come from a range of complementary sources; public and private, domestic and foreign, bilateral and multilateral, recognizing in particular the important role of good governance and forest law enforcement as a precondition for mobilizing resources. Our reflection at UNFF11 needs to build on the important work done by the Forum over the past years and on the positive experience with the Facilitative Process. We need to focus on priorities and pragmatic solutions, avoid a duplication of efforts by adopting an integrated approach to the various Means of Implementation aspects of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and other relevant processes.
11. Finally, Mr Chairman we would like to stress that the active, open and transparent participation of all relevant stakeholders, particularly civil society and the private sector at all levels needs to be enhanced in the post-2015 IAF. We also support an enhanced involvement of appropriate existing regional bodies and processes in the post-2015 IAF.
12. The EU and its Member States support an ambitious ministerial statement to renew the political commitment to save the world’s forests, including through a more effective and result oriented post-2015 IAF and highlighting the contribution of forests and SFM to the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda and future global climate change agreement.
13. Mr. Chairman in conclusion, let me assure you that the EU and its Member States will contribute constructively to a successful UNFF11 outcome, which will also need to include a clear framework for the operationalization of agreed decisions and follow-up actions.
- Ref: EUUN15-069EN
- EU source: European Union
- UN forum: ECOSOC – Economic and Social Council
- Date: 4/5/2015