Throughout history, people have depended on forests and trees for the vital resources they provide, to sustain economies, societies and human well-being. It is estimated that the economic value of ecosystem services provided by forests globally could be worth as much as US$16.2 trillion. Billions of people rely on forests to generate energy, for materials to build their homes, as well as for livelihood, health, and food. Forests are also home to an estimated 80 per cent of all terrestrial species. On 7-11 May 2018, the UN Forum on Forests will hold its 13th session (UNFF13) at UN Headquarters in New York, to ensure that our forests are protected and sustainably managed.
This is the first policy session of the Forum since the adoption of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030 by the UN General Assembly in 2017. Discussions at UNFF13 will provide a timely opportunity for the Forum to promote implementation of the Strategic Plan and provide input to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2018.
The Strategic plan and its Global Forest Goals and targets provide a global framework for sustainably managing all types of forests and trees, halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation, and increasing forest area by 2030. The Plan also serves a blueprint to promote the contributions of forests to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Forests and trees sustain life
Forests and trees provide vital resources for life on Earth. They sustain our economies, societies and promote our overall well-being. Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75 per cent of the world’s freshwater – for households as well as agriculture or industrial use. Forests are nature’s water towers, they filter, store and supply freshwater, and through transpiration they seed clouds and affect rainfall patterns.
About one third of the world’s population relies on biomass-based energy from forests and trees for their daily needs, particularly cooking and heating. Sustainable forest management and sustainable use of forest products offer some of the most effective and cost-competitive natural carbon capture and storage options available.
Forests sustain human health, from clean air and water to providing components for 75 per cent of top-ranking global prescription medications. These vital ecosystems build resilience, prevent land degradation and desertification, reduce the risk of floods, landslides and avalanches, droughts, dust storms and sandstorms and other natural disasters. When properly managed, forests are healthy, productive, resilient and renewable ecosystems.
The UNFF13 agenda includes discussions on the contributions of forests in accelerating achievement of the SDGs and in supporting global efforts in the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies, as well as monitoring, assessment and reporting frameworks, mobilizing forest financing, and strategies for communication and outreach. To this end, a Ministerial Roundtable and a series of interactive panel discussions will be held during this session.
The UN Forum on Forests is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council and is composed of 197 Member States of the UN and State Members of the Specialized Agencies. Since its inception in 2001, the Forum has reached major policy milestones including the adoption of the first UN Forest Instrument in 2007, the creation of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network in 2015 and most recently, the adoption of the first-ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030 in 2017.
For more information: UN Forum on Forests