Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement - United Nations Forum on Forests: Agenda Items 3a and 3d

New York, 28/04/2021 - 19:25, UNIQUE ID: 210428_25
Statements on behalf of the EU

27 April 2021, New York - European Union Statement delivered by Portugal at the 16th United Nations Forum on Forests on Agenda item 3 a. (i) - Reversing the loss of forest cover; (ii) - Enhancing forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits; (iii) - Mobilizing financial resources and strengthening scientific and technical cooperation; promoting governance frameworks to advance implementation; and enhancing cooperation, coordination and coherence for sustainable forest management; Agenda item 3 d) Interlinkages GFG and SDG review HLPF and CBD strategic framework doc E/CN.18/2021/2

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States.


Forests represent the terrestrial ecosystem that is both the main reservoir of biological diversity and the one with the greatest carbon uptake capacity. They are also vital for many people worldwide who depend directly or indirectly on forests and their products and services for their livelihoods.


The EU and its Member States are deeply concerned that deforestation and forest degradation continue at alarming rates. Despite all efforts so far, our joint goal to halt deforestation is far from being achieved. All available evidence points to the fact that agriculture expansion is the main driver for this continued development.


We also face an increased risk of forest loss derived from the effects of climate change, and the observed in the increase intensity and frequency of forest fires. Thus, we need to reinforce global actions to increase the resilience of forests and facilitate their adaptation to climate change.


In our view, there are key tools to achieve GFG1: making our food systems more sustainable, the implementation of SFM in all its components, including its role in reducing rural poverty, and the implementation of sustainable agro-forestry systems. These key tools need to be part of an integrated sustainable land use approach.


In doing so, we collectively need to substantially increase afforestation, reforestation, and restoration efforts in line with biodiversity and climate objectives, while protecting primary forests. An integrated approach is needed as forests contribute to a wide range of objectives; priorities may differ per region.


The EU and its Member States strongly support additional and urgent cross-sectoral and joint actions, at all levels, to further address global loss of all type of forests. Taking into account the relevance and impact of deforestation that is embodied in commodities and products, we call for the promotion of sustainable and deforestation free supply-chains, and invite further consumer countries to join committing to action.


In order to contribute to the achievement of the GFG1, the EU has launched several initiatives and activities in the context of the European Green Deal. Examples can be found in our written statement on the website.


The EU its Member States strongly believe that forests can and should provide a large variety of benefits. With sustainable policies and legislation in place, multiple benefits can be attained at the same time.


We see that forests have an important role in contributing to food security, especially in areas where agricultural opportunities are scarce, and forests role in providing food should be taken into account in their management.


The best way to fight deforestation and forest degradation is to make sure that healthy and resilient forests have value. Their potential to produce sustainable and renewable raw materials to many value chains, including non-timber forest products, which provide income and opportunities, needs to be acknowledged.


The role of all forests in safeguarding biodiversity, mitigating climate change and adapting to it and combatting land degradation needs to be further mainstreamed into policies and legislation promoting SFM.


In addition, forests and trees in urban and peri-urban areas contribute significantly to a healthier environment and to more resilient cities.


We are pleased to recognize efforts made by countries and organisations in mobilizing financial resources, strengthening scientific and technical cooperation and in promoting governance frameworks to advance implementation of SFM and encourage all parties to continue on this path.


Efforts should also be made to align and enhance efficiency and effectiveness of available resources (for forests, climate, biodiversity and other environmental objectives), stimulating actions that have multiple co-benefits.


The EU and its MS advocate the need for UNFF and other international processes to address forest-related issues in a coherent, consistent and mutually supportive way that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.


To this end, it is essential to establish synergistic actions for Sustainable Forest Management at all levels to accelerate efforts to achieve all Global Forest Goals (GFGs), in accordance with the UN Forest instrument and the UNSPF.

The EU and its MS welcome several initiatives at political level that have been contributing to this aim, such as the UN Summit on Biodiversity and is looking forward to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. We are also looking forward to the adoption of an ambitious and comprehensive Global Framework on Biodiversity at the forthcoming COP 15 of the CBD. All these initiatives and processes create a huge opportunity to further foster SFM and to accelerate forest ecosystems recovery worldwide and therefore we recommend that the Forum call on all countries to step up actions on forest conservation and restoration.


The UNSPF represents a joint framework for forest related action to advance the implementation of SDGs. In this regard, the EU and its MS call for accelerated implementation of the Strategic Plan in order to achieve all GFGs by 2030. The key role of the CPF in this process has to be further recognized and promoted, including as a programmatic role model under HLPF.  We stress the need for continued integration of GFGs and their associated targets into the strategies and programmes of CPF's member organisations, as appropriate and, consistently with their mandates, and that joint activities and initiatives of the CPF need to deliver on GFGs and SDGs.


The EU and its MS also recommend that UNFF promotes greater coherence between international and regional forest-related instruments and seeks for better integration of the GFGs into the major international frameworks, inter alia on climate and biodiversity, with a view to achieve strong and solid outcomes and make the best use of them. This is particularly important now, in the context of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework which is presently being negotiated under the Convention on Biological Diversity.


Regarding the suggestion contained on paragraph 83 of document E/CN.18/2021/2, the EU and its MS support encouraging countries to integrate or scale up forest related actions in their national determined contributions to the Paris agreement. While the CBD post-2020 global biodiversity framework is yet to be decided, the EU and its MS believe that UNFF should also invite countries to consider forests' contribution to meet the objectives of CBD and its present and future targets.


In addition, countries should make the best use of available means provided by various instruments to implement their engagements. For example, due to the intrinsic link of GFGs and SDGs, the development of National Forest Financing Strategies under the GFFFN should also contribute to national implementation processes of the 2030 Agenda commitments, the Paris Agreement and the work on biodiversity, among others.


Finally, indicators related to forests should be better aligned with GFGs and SDGs, and also taking into account other processes like the post-2020 strategic and monitoring frameworks currently being negotiated under the CBD.


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