Deciding the future of the world’s forests!! UN Forum on Forests 10 and Yale FES

In a few days, a conference that will influence international forest policy and management for the coming years will begin. The United Nations Forum on Forests 10th Session (UNFF10) will take place from April 8th – 19th in Istanbul, Turkey. With the theme “Forests and economic development” the conference will explore how the manifold benefits from forests can be realized and contribute to a green economy that improves food security, preserves biodiversity, and increases social equity.

Sub-themes of the conference will be:

  • Forest products and services,
  • National forest programs and other sectorial policies and strategies,
  • Reducing risks and impacts of disasters,
  • Benefits of forests and trees to urban communities.

What is Yale Doing at UNFF10?

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES) contributes to the conference in two ways:

  • The Governance, Environment, and Markets (GEM) initiative under the leadership of Professor Ben Cashore collaborates with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). In line with this, the F&ES Master of Environmental Management students Alisa Zomer and Urs Dieterich will participate in the conference.
  • The International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA), whose network Yale F&ES is in the process of joining, will represent the UN Major Group Children and Youth.

Why is UNFF important?

Established in 2000, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) provides a platform to promote the sustainable management and conservation of forests. The UNFF is composed of 197 Member States and aims to enhance long-term political commitment that recognizes the many ways in which forests contribute to the wellbeing of the human and natural environment.

The UNFF has elaborated Four Global Objectives on Forests:

  • Reverse the loss of forest cover worldwide through sustainable forest management (SFM).
  • Enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits.
  • Increase significantly the area of sustainably managed forests.
  • Reverse the decline in official development assistance for SFM and mobilize increased financial resources for implementation of SFM.

A landmark achieved during the UNFF7 in 2007 was the UN Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests, referred to as the Forest Instrument. It is the first agreement of its kind and, according to the UNFF, will increase “international cooperation and national action to reduce deforestation, prevent forest degradation, promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for all forest-dependent peoples.”

What are the pressing issues?

  • Can forest benefits be fully valued in economic terms? How can forest functions be made more visible? What are promising financing options?
    Yale and IUFRO will have a side event on April 11th to explore the role of the private sector in forest funding. This may open new doors to reversing the 22 year trend of declining financial support for forests.
  • How can policies adequately address linkages between forests and agriculture, energy, water, public health, and poverty?
    Forests are impacted by many factors and institutions that don’t collaborate or communicate. In an interview, Jan McAlpine, Director of the UNFF Secretariat, explained that forests are often administered under the agriculture ministries where they don’t receive adequate consideration. Environment ministries, on the other hand, often don’t incorporate the sustainable use of forests. More holistic political representation of forests may better be able to address the linkages between economic, social, and environmental aspects that come together in forests.
  • What is the forests’ role in, and how are they impacted by, changing land use patterns, urbanization, demographic dynamics, changing consumption patterns, and climate change?
    Governance mechanisms like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) discussed under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) may be a unique chance to join forces and to elaborate on the role of forests in a future world.

Throughout the next two weeks, this blog will keep you updated about the daily happenings and hot topics at the conference. Questions and comments are highly welcome and we will try our best to answer them.