United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)

United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)

About UNFF

UNFF Mandate
In October 2000, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), in its Resolution 2000/35 established the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), a subsidiary body with the main objective to promote “… the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end…”based on the Rio Declaration, the Forest Principles, Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and the outcome of the IPF/IFF Processes and other key milestones of international forest policy.

The Forum has universal membership, and is composed of all Member States of the United Nations and specialized agencies.

Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests (NLBI)
Following intense negotiations, the Seventh Session of the Forum adopted the landmark Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests on 28 April 2007. The instrument is considered a milestone, as it is the first time Member States have agreed to an international instrument for sustainable forest management. The instrument is expected to have a major impact on international cooperation and national action to reduce deforestation, prevent forest degradation, promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for all forest-dependent peoples. The NLBI was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 2007.

UNFF Principal Functions
In order to achieve its main objective, the following principal functions have been identified for the UNFF:

  • To facilitate implementation of forest-related agreements and foster a common understanding on sustainable forest management;
  • To provide for continued policy development and dialogue among Governments, international organizations, including major groups, as identified in Agenda 21 as well as to address forest issues and emerging areas of concern in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner,
  • To enhance cooperation as well as policy and programme coordination on forest-related issues
  • To foster international cooperation and
  • To monitor, assess and report on progress of the above functions and objectives
  • To strengthen political commitment to the management , conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
  • Enhance the contribution of forests to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and to the implementation of the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, bearing in mind the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development;
  • Encourage and assist countries, including those with low forest cover, to develop and implement forest conservation and rehabilitation strategies, increase the area of forests under sustainable management and reduce forest degradation and the loss of forest cover in order to maintain and improve their forest resources with a view to enhancing the benefits of forests to meet present and future needs, in particular the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities whose livelihoods depend on forests;
  • Strengthen interaction between the United Nations Forum on Forests and relevant regional and subregional forest-related mechanisms, institutions and instruments, organizations and processes, with participation of major groups, as identified in Agenda 21 and relevant stakeholders to facilitate enhanced cooperation and effective implementation of sustainable forest management, as well as to contribute to the work of the Forum;

The IPF/IFF processes produced a body of more than 270 proposals for action towards sustainable forest management, known collectively as the IPF/IFF Proposals for action. These proposals are the basis for the UNFF Multi-Year Programme of Work and Plan of Action, various themes of which are discussed at annual UNFF Sessions. Country- and Organization-led initiatives also contribute to development of UNFF themes. Multi-stakeholder dialogues are an integral part of the agenda at UNFF sessions, allowing major stakeholders to contribute to the forest policy forum.

The UNFF is guided by a Bureau and serviced by a compact secretariat, that also serves as a secretariat for the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.

Global Objectives on Forests

  • In 2006, at its sixth session, the Forum agreed on four shared Global Objectives on Forests, providing clear guidance on the future work of the international arrangement on forests. The four Global Objectives seek to:
  • Reverse the loss of forest cover worldwide through sustainable forest management (SFM), including protection, restoration, afforestation and reforestation, and increase efforts to prevent forest degradation;
  • Enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits, including by improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent people;
  • Increase significantly the area of sustainably managed forests, including protected forests, and increase the proportion of forest products derived from sustainably managed forests; and
  • Reverse the decline in official development assistance for sustainable forest management and mobilize significantly-increased new and additional financial resources from all sources for the implementation of SFM.

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF)
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests was established in April 2001, following the recommendation of ECOSOC. This innovative partnership of 14 major forest-related international organizations, institutions and convention secretariats, works to support the work of the UNFF and its member countries and to foster increased cooperation and coordination on forests.

International Forest Policy Milestones
For further information the history of the international forest policy process, including the Forest Principles and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, both adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio, 1992, please consult Forest Policy Milestones.
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UNFF in India