The 12th Session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF12) was held on 1-5 May 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. Over 300 participants from UN Member States, international organizations, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other major groups attended the Event. ECO Secretariat was represented in UNFF12 by Mr. Fuad Farzalibeyov, ECO Director for Energy, Minerals and Environment. The UNFF12 was inaugurated by statements made by President of the UN General Assembly Mr. Peter Thomson, ECOSOC Vice-President Ms. Marie Chatardova, UN Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Mr. Wu Hongbo and UNFF Director Dr. Manoel Sobral Filho.
UNFF12 addressed the implementation of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF) 2017-2030 through a number of panel discussions on SDGs to be taken up in 2017 by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development; means of implementation for sustainable forest management; monitoring, assessment and reporting; and emerging challenges and issues.
Constructive engagement characterized the discussions with many underscoring the role that the new and improved format of UNFF sessions can play in cementing the importance of forests and ensuring their consideration across the UN system. This was largely due to the UNSPF, agreed in January 2017 and adopted by UNGA on 27 April 2017, being hailed as a major milestone that has lifted the Forum’s profile and increased its visibility.
Mr. Fuad Farzalibeyov made an intervention on Agenda Item 6: “Enhanced cooperation, coordination and engagement on forest-related issues”. In his intervention he briefed the audience on ECO’s growing forest-related profile since 2014 and expressed ECO’s readiness to regenerate the needed action at regional scale to address forest and climate change concerns and identify common regional approaches. ECO Director also reckoned that the regional organizations could play a greater role in advancing UNFF agenda and UNSPF. In this vein, he highlighted the Expert Meeting on Enhancing Regional and Sub-Regional Involvement in the International Arrangement on Forests, held in September 2016 in Tehran where the need for a inter-regional coordination mechanism for consistent engagement of regional and sub-regional organizations and entities in forest process was discussed.
ECO Director also had bilateral consultations with UNFF Secretariat on ways and means of promoting the ECO regional strategy on sustainable forest management, institutionalization of inter-regional coordination mechanism, and the continuation of capacity-building activities within ECO Region.
UNFF12 adopted the Omnibus Resolution and the Report of the Event. The Omnibus Resolution underscored, among others, the importance of enhancing cooperation, coordination and engagement on forest-related issues and welcomed initiatives by Member States, international organizations and major groups contributing to developing and implementing the UNSPF and the Quadrennial Programme of Work (4POW) for the period 2017-2020.