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Eighteenth Session,
6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)
ENV/DEV/2061

Capacity-Building Needed for Countries to Develop Financing of Sustainable Forest Management, Increase Data Collection, Speakers Tell Forum, as Session Continues

Building countries’ capacities to increase data collection and develop financing that supports sustainable forest management is much needed, speakers stressed, as the United Nations Forum on Forests today considered means of implementation and the monitoring, assessment and reporting of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030.

Juliette Biao, Director of the Forum Secretariat — introducing its note titled “Means of implementation, including operations and resources of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network” (document E/CN.18/2023/4) — said it provides an overview of global developments on forest financing, updates on the Network clearinghouse and suggestions to facilitate technological collaboration.  Since the Forum’s seventeenth session, the Network has supported 15 countries in two subregions.

Reporting also on the developments concerning the proposed Network office in China, she noted the progress on its name, nature and scope. The time-bound office will be funded through voluntary contributions from the host country.  With an aim to scale up capacity development activities, it will also promote the implementation of sustainable forest management, the Strategic Plan and the United Nations Forest Instrument through knowledge sharing, best practice exchanges, capacity-building, research and multilateral cooperation.  “The proposed office will further assure that its operations serve the interests and needs of Member States and stakeholders,” she said.

In the ensuing general discussion, several speakers offered concrete suggestions to the Forum and the Network on how to support countries, while some voiced their concerns.

Peru’s delegate, welcoming the progress implementing the clearinghouse for the Network, urged the Forum to strengthen Member’s capacities on using the clearinghouse.  Lima, for example, hopes to receive support on sustainable forest management, particularly on economic mechanisms to mobilize existing resources for its forest sector.

The representative of Guyana said Georgetown would benefit from training programmes on accessing global funds, especially since its people have been able to make the most of global financing through scholarships.  The Network should fund training, as education and capacity-building are priority areas, she emphasized. 

Nicaragua’s delegate highlighted the need to end unilateral coercive measures which have diminished countries’ capacities to care for forests and their dependents.  Developing countries need resources for sustainable forest management, he underscored.

Building on that, the representative of Kenya emphasized that the Network needs adequate and predictable financial resources to build States’ capacities.  For its part, the Forum Secretariat and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests should operationalize the global technology facilitation mechanism and raise awareness on funding for sustainable forest management.

Similarly, Malaysia’s delegate urged the Forum Secretariat and the Partnership to continue providing technical support to developing countries while mobilizing the necessary resources to achieve the global forest goals. Funding processes must be streamlined, he insisted, emphasizing:  “With so many strings attached and also costs, the parties are being weighed down with reporting burden.”

However, the representative of Switzerland pointed out that the facilitation mechanism is going far beyond the Network’s mandate.  The Forum is not a development agency.  Moreover, means of implementation must come from all sources and not just official development assistance (ODA).  To that end, the Strategic Plan provides a good basis for mobilizing domestic funding, she underlined, stressing:  “You all have a responsibility to look into that.”

In other business today, Ms. Biao — presenting the Forum Secretariat’s note titled “Monitoring, assessment and reporting on progress in the implementation of the United Nations strategic plan for forests 2017–2030” (document E/CN.18/2023/5) — said it contains an overview of relevant intersessional activities and several suggestions for the Forum, among other things.  The Forum Secretariat has also developed draft terms of reference for an Advisory Group on Reporting, she reported.

Tomas Juszczak, Sustainable Development Officer at the Forum Secretariat, noted that the Advisory Group’s main focus is to provide support on monitoring, reporting and assessing progress on the global forest goals. Consisting of 10 to 15 experts, it will benefit Member States and the Forum by listening to their needs when developing tools and products, he pledged.

Malgorzata Buszko-Briggs, Senior Forestry Officer and Team Leader of the Forestry Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), provided an update on the preparations for the global core set of forest-related indicators and the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2025. Efforts to streamline forest-related reporting under the Partnership’s umbrella have reduced the burden on countries and increased data consistency, she said.

Teresa Sofi Loeffler, Forestry Officer in FAO’s Forestry Division, spotlighting a better data monitoring model and a new method to generate estimates on the forest sector, emphasized that close collaboration between the Partnership, the Forum’s Secretariat and FAO can further enhance the global core set of forest-related indicators.

Gerfried Gruber, Co-Chair of the Global Workshop on Reporting on Progress towards the Global Forest Goals and Targets of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030, reported on the Global Workshop’s outcome, underlining the importance of coordination between national forest officials and relevant ministries on data collection.  The international community must continue to build capacity at the national level and facilitate cooperation beyond the forest sector, he emphasized.

Clement Ng’oriareng, Co-Chair of the Global Workshop, added that countries reported a need for more capacity-building to improve the accuracy and consistency of forest-related data.  They also need support on their voluntary national reports, he pointed out.

The Forum also heard a presentation from Steven Witte, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Xange.com, on the opportunities and challenges related to carbon markets, after which several Member States posed questions on regulation, certification and benefit sharing. 

The Forum on Forests will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 11 May, to continue its eighteenth session.

Means of Implementation

JULIETTE BIAO, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, introduced its note titled “Means of implementation, including operations and resources of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network” (document E/CN.18/2023/4).  The note provides an overview of key global developments related to forest financing, a progress report on the Network, updates to the development of the Network clearinghouse and an update on developments related to the establishment of the proposed Network office in China.  It also includes proposals for the Forum to discuss at its eighteenth session for possible inclusion in the Chair’s summary, including information on the mobilization of forest funding by multilateral funding institutions and a summary of Network activities since the Forum’s seventeenth session, which included support to 15 countries in two subregions.  In addition, the note highlights key challenges regarding technological cooperation and provides suggestions for the Forum to facilitate collaboration, she pointed out.

Regarding the proposed office, she reported that China and the United Nations organized informal discussions to address the differing views on the name, nature and scope of the office’s activities.  They agreed that the “United Nations Office for the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network” or the “United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat Office for the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network” could be the name, subject to the final agreement on scope and nature.  The proposed office will support and scale up capacity development activities for the Network and further promote the implementation of sustainable forest management, the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2023 and the United Nations Forum Instrument through knowledge sharing, the exchange of best practices and lessons learned, capacity-building, research and multilateral cooperation, she noted. 

She also reported that both parties agreed that the office will be managed and administered by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Like other such offices, it will be time-bound and funded through host country voluntary contributions, with no cost being paid through the United Nations regular budget or the Forum’s Trust Fund.  “In our way, we are happy for the common understanding emerged on a number of outstanding issues,” she said, stressing:  “We are confident that both sides will be able to resolve all the issues and the proposed office will further assure that its operations serve the interests and needs of Member States and stakeholders.”

As the floor opened for the general discussion, delegations weighed in on matters of the proposed office, the process of funding for developing countries, support for capacity-building and national efforts, among other matters.

The representative of China said that at the invitation of the Forum’s Secretariat and considering the Network’s financial and human resources constraints, China decided to offer three office premisses in Beijing, as well as their operational funding.  Since the Forum’s thirteenth session, China has communicated and worked closely with the Secretariat on a host country agreement and a memorandum of understanding, including closed discussions on the issues related to the office, he added, reiterating the country’s aim to conclude the consultations and make the office operational as soon as possible.

The representative of Colombia spotlighted her country’s President’s announcement of contributing $200 million from the national budget for the next 20 years to protect the Amazon.  She also invited all States to join Colombia’s initiative “National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans accelerator” — launched at the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference — which supports national efforts in implementing action plans and establishing matchmaking between supply and demand for biodiversity.

The representative of Guyana said her country would benefit from training programmes on accessing global funds, suggesting that such training could be funded under the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network.  Guyana also initiated a forest restoration project in 2023, she reported, adding that the Guyanese people working in the forestry and environmental sectors have benefited from global finance through scholarships.  Recalling that Guyana has also conducted exchanges in sustainable development, technology and forest management through its bilateral and regional cooperation with China, India and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, she underscored that education and capacity-building should be priority investment areas. 

The representative of Peru welcomed progress in implementing the clearinghouse for the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network, urging the strengthening of Forum members’ — particularly developing countries — capacity to use this important instrument.  For its part, Peru hopes to receive support from the Network towards sustainable forest management, including in the design of economic instruments to mobilize existing resources for the national forest sector.  He also welcomed the Network’s support to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization’s regional financing strategy to promote the sustainable management of the Amazon.

The representative of Malawi underscored that keeping forest cover intact and “the trees standing” is dependent on adequate financial resources, technology transfer and Member States’ capacities.  Malawi is committed to sustainable forest management, and she welcomed the Forum’s invitation for Member States — and others in a position to do so — to provide additional contributions to the Forum’s Trust Fund.  Noting that developing countries have limited access to relevant technologies, she urged that such countries be supported to enhance their capacity to sustainably manage forests.

The representative of Argentina underscored the need for new, additional and accessible funds to implement the global forest goals in developing countries.  To that end, the financing pledge under the Global Environment Facility should increase substantially.  It is also necessary to make progress on establishing, implementing and institutionalizing the Network’s clearinghouse, he added.

The representative of Malaysia said that the Forum Secretariat, Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the private sector should continue to provide technical support to developing countries, facilitate access to sustainable forest financing mechanisms and mobilize resources to achieve the global forest goals.  Funding processes must be streamlined, he insisted, stressing:  “With so many strings attached and also costs, the parties are being weighed down with reporting burden.”  The Forum should also explore a hybrid format as this will reduce the financial burden on participants and ensure that experts and relevant Member States’ agencies can productively contribute to its discussions and processes.

The representative of the European Union said the bloc is not ready to support the expansion of the Forum’s activities with the functions of a global technology facilitation mechanism.  She asked the Secretariat to explain the added value of developing a separate mechanism, including the objective and role of the new project office in China in scaling up capacity-building.  The office should have a clear task, report to the Secretariat in New York and avoid duplicating the Forum Secretariat’s work; no mandate should be given through voluntary contributions.  Recognizing that the future office should be called “the United Nations project office”, she said the bloc does not support the use of the term “secretariat” to this end.  She also requested China to provide an estimated timespan of its voluntary contribution. 

The representative of Thailand, recalling that his country is one of the four States that received the Forum’s financial support to formulate its national forest financing strategy, expressed support to China’s initiative and its draft memorandum of understanding. 

The representative of Nicaragua pointed out that developing countries need resources to ensure financing and capacity for the sustainable management of forests.  Further, he underscored the need to end illegal unilateral coercive measures that have diminished countries’ capacities to care for both forests and those who depend on them.  Also spotlighting forests’ protective role in relation to extreme climate events — such as hurricanes along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast — he urged that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change consider the vital role played by forests in this context.

The representative of Botswana detailed Government efforts to address land degradation and desertification, noting that a national action plan was developed in 2006 and that, since 1985, over 2 million trees have been planted in her country.  Botswana — using its national budget and funds borrowed from Saudi Arabia — will continue to develop strategies in this area, including a drought-management plan and an agroforest strategy.  She added that her country will use available funding streams to grow its forestry sector.

The representative of Switzerland underlined that means of implementation must come from all sources, not just official development assistance (ODA) or international sources.  “You all have a responsibility to look into that,” she said, adding that the Strategic Plan is a good basis to generate funding from national budgets.  Asking for more information on the proposed office, she said that no new mandate should be given through voluntary contributions.  She also asked for information on similar offices, including how a review would occur and written intersessional reporting on progress.  The global technological facilitation mechanism is going far beyond the Network’s mandate, especially since “we are a policy forum and not a development agency”, she said.

The representative of Kenya requested the Forum Secretariat, alongside the Partnership, to continue developing and operationalizing the global technology facilitation mechanism while raising awareness for enhancing funding and support on sustainable forest management.  Since the Network needs adequate and predictable financial resources to build on Member States’ capacities to access means of implementation more effectively, donors should provide more resources.  There is also a need to significantly improve public-private partnerships as well as North-South, South-South, North-North and triangular cooperation.  Moreover, North-South, South-South, triangular, regional and international cooperation on access and on improving knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms must be enhanced.

The representative of the African Forest Forum, recognizing the Networks’ assistance to developing countries and the countries with economic transition in accessing funds from the Green Climate Fund and other multilateral financial institutions, voiced support for the need to finalize the host agreement and the memorandum of understanding.  He also welcomed that the project office in China will operate under the rules of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noting that the forest finance should be tripled by 2030 to meet climate biodiversity and land degradation neutrality targets, underscored the key role of the private sector in attaining this ambition.  To this end, FAO provided a dialogue platform, where the Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest-Based Industries held a round table on enhancing forest sector engagement in ecosystems restoration and a dialogue on the restoration initiative.

Ms. BIAO, responding to questions on the proposed office in Beijing, said that, once established, the office will be a project office of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The Forum’s Secretariat, based in New York, remains the manager of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network, while the proposed office would support the Network’s capacity-developing activities.  Further, the proposed office will not be funded by the regular budget, and its Head will work under the supervision of the Director of the Forum’s secretariat.

On the legal implications of the proposed office, she pointed out that all Department offices are managed by the Department itself, are time-bound and are financed entirely through voluntary contributions by the host country.  Further, draft host country agreements must comply with the Organization’s standards and regulations, and selection and appointment of staff must follow the United Nations Secretariat’s human-resources policy.  Noting that past decades demonstrate the success of similar project offices, she said they constitute important additional resources that help maximize the Department’s impact.

Following several additional requests for clarification made by Member States, she said that she will provide her responses in writing. On the delineation of tasks between the Forum’s Secretariat and the proposed office, she said the next step will be to clarify how best to ensure that the two offices are complementary.

Presentation on Carbon Markets

The Forum then heard a presentation on the opportunities and challenges related to carbon markets from Steven Witte, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Xange.com.

Mr. WITTE, providing an overview of carbon markets, carbon credits and the onboarding process for projects, spotlighted several key carbon initiatives such as REDD+ projects, reforestation programmes and blue carbon efforts on mangroves and seaweed farms.  To achieve the global forest goals, proceeds from the issuance of carbon credits must be allocated to sustainable forest management, particularly on protection, restoration, afforestation, reforestation and deforestation prevention as well as on tackling climate change overall.  Funds should also enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits, including through improved livelihoods for forest-dependent people, and should significantly increase the area of protected forests. 

However, the carbon credit market is fragmented, lacks price and project transparency, needs standardization and is currently driven by over-the-counter processes, he noted.  It needs a centralized exchange mechanism; a digital measurement, reporting and verification system; project custody; and transparent project management solutions.  To that end, blockchain technology can enhance investors’ abilities to monitor and trace environmental impacts on a granular level and in a timely and cost-effective manner by digitizing record keeping of real-time mitigation outcome data and reducing the need for data reconciliation between parties. 

For their part, Forum members should collaborate with the private sector on establishing a robust digital reporting, verification and management system that also addresses the issue of “double counting” carbon credits in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said.  He also encouraged them to establish a legal framework protecting private entities regarding the transfer of mitigation outcomes to achieve nationally determined contributions or for other mitigation purposes.

Turning to green bonds, he pointed out that they are a mainstream sustainable financing instrument, which has ballooned into a market of $1.6 trillion.  Yet the international community still needs to address the issues of greenwashing and carbon credit additionality.  When appended with verified carbon credits, green bonds are not only a solution for forest financing initiatives but can also enhance the transparency, objectivity and environmental integrity of voluntary carbon markets and the green bond market.  Using innovative technology and forging public-private partnership to that end are essential, he stressed, also underlining the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing between the Forum and the private sector.

JAVAD MOMENI (Iran), Vice-Chair of the Forum, asked what challenges countries face in carbon markets and how the Forum could facilitate better access to financing. 

Responding, Mr. WITTE noted that the lack of standardization for the methodologies to approve forest projects across different sectors led to the concerns of the quality of the carbon credits’ environmental integrity.  To this end, he reiterated the importance of collaborating on management, reporting and verification tools, including on datasets and technology, while also tracking the progress made on ending carbon stock. 

Mr. MOMENI also asked about the impact of article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which addresses global financing flows to forests.

Mr. WITTE noted that article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement created a new carbon crediting mechanism, governed by the Framework Convention on Climate Change, to generate carbon credit that will be traded on public and private sector markets.  However, the public debt level, caused by a long-term effect of the global financial crisis, climate change, COVID-19, inflation and the energy crisis, will limit the countries’ ability to provide financial support to carbon reduction and removal activities.  To this end, he encouraged Governments to leverage on business-to-business funding in negotiating their corporate arrangements while enabling cooperative approach frameworks that include legal and regulatory certainty. 

Member States then posed questions regarding the presentation on carbon markets, with the representative of Saudi Arabia asking how best to ensure that green bonds will contribute to forest rehabilitation projects in a sustainable manner.  The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo asked about the possibility of a more-coercive framework to ensure benefit-sharing from carbon sales, while the representative of Brazil asked how the requirements of article 6 will affect voluntary markets and private certifiers. Meanwhile, the representative of Indonesia posed a question regarding how to ensure that double-counting and double-claims are regulated and balanced, and the representative of Mexico inquired about how to promote non-market approaches in the forest sector. Additionally, the representative of El Salvador questioned how to assess the work of intermediaries devoted to certifying and generating carbon bonds.

Responding, Mr. WITTE reiterated the crucial need for a digital mechanism with trustworthy data, credible third-party verification bodies and a public registry with proper record keeping and accessible data sets.  While there are rating agencies that can analyse data, he stressed the need for another layer of data, documentation and analytics to properly understand additionalities and co-benefits. Regarding the voluntary carbon market, he pointed out that there is no need for additional layers of compliance since solid guidelines exist.  What is needed, he stressed, is integrity, transparency and adherence to those guidelines.

Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting

Ms. BIAO introduced the Forum’s Secretariat note titled “Monitoring, assessment and reporting on progress in the implementation of the United Nations strategic plan for forests 2017–2030” (document E/CN.18/2023/5).  The note contains an overview of relevant intersessional activities conducted since the Forum’s seventeenth session; monitoring, assessment and reporting on its progress; global core set of forest-related indicators; and preparation for the global forests assessment 2025. 

The Secretariat amended the reporting format and conducted pilot phases for its use with interested countries, she noted, adding that the results were shared at the Global Workshop on Reporting of Progress towards Global Forest Goals and Targets of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030, jointly organized with FAO on 22-24 March in Rome.  

Further, the note contains the survey results, through which some Forum’s members shared their views on the publication’s usefulness and impact, she continued.  Following the Economic and Social Council’s resolution 2022/17 suggesting establishing an advisory group for reporting, the Secretariat has developed draft terms of reference for the Forum’s consideration at is present session.  The note also includes several suggestions on the respective agenda items for the Forum’s nineteenth session, she added. 

MALGORZATA BUSZKO-BRIGGS, Senior Forestry Officer and Team Leader of FAO’s Forestry Division, then gave an update on preparations for the global core set of forest-related indicators and the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2025.  Noting that FAO conducts a periodic assessment of forest resources at its members’ request, she said the assessment collects information on the condition, management and use of such resources every five years.  It consults with experts on scope, terms, definitions and other technical aspects and then, inviting countries to nominate national correspondents, begins to plan capacity-building and data-collection processes.  Data collection for this assessment cycle began in March 2023, and FAO is conducting a series of regional workshops to provide technical assistance on how to compile country reports.  Such workshops improve the quality and consistency of national reports, also ensuring they are based on the best-available data.  After the reports are drafted, national correspondents send them to FAO for review — a process that should be completed by the end of 2023.  Also detailing efforts to streamline forest-related reporting under the umbrella of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, she said this has reduced the reporting burden for countries and increased the consistency of data used to monitor progress towards common goals and targets.

TERESA SOFI LOEFFLER, Forestry Officer in FAO’s Forestry Division, then noted that FAO published two reports in 2022 with the Partnership — one on trends relating to the global core set of forest-related indicators and the other on the uptake of the indicators.  Detailing some conclusions therein, she reported that, while the indicators are generally accepted as a minimum global framework, some organizations feel they must be strengthened.  On FAO’s revisions to the way it collects data for the indicators, she spotlighted a better model to monitor data relating to wood-based energy consumption where official data is lacking; a new method to estimate the number of people working in the forest sector; and the use of global poverty data sets to estimate poverty levels among forest-proximate people.  She added that, going forward, close collaboration between members of the Partnership, the Forum’s Secretariat and FAO can further enhance the global core set of forest-related indicators.

Next, the Co-Chairs of the Global Workshop on Reporting on Progress towards the Global Forest Goals and Targets of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030, Gerfried Gruber, Director for Forest Policy, Forest Information and Forest Economy in the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management, and Austria’s focal point to the Forum, and Clement Ng’oriareng, Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests in the Kenya Forest Service and alternate national focal point to the Forum for Kenya, presented on the outcome of the Global Workshop.

Mr. GRUBER said the Global Workshop, which had participants from 40 countries, focused on identifying resources for data and methodologies for monitoring and reporting on the global forest goals and targets, as well as sharing results, knowledge and national experiences.  Turning to its conclusions, he said it was important to enhance close coordination and interaction between national forestry officials with relevant ministries and national institutions to increase collection of data and information.  Also, inviting members of the Partnership and critical national infrastructure processes to promote the global core set should be considered.  He underscored the importance of continued efforts to build capacity at the national level to supply information on the global core set indicators, as well as examining expanded cooperation on data collection with new partners, including outside the forest sector.  The method to estimate the number of people employed in the forest sector could also be developed, he said, detailing the Global Workshop’s other conclusions.

Mr. NG’ORIARENG said part of the Global Workshop’s March agenda was to discuss the amended format of the template for voluntary reporting by countries to the Forum, noting that a pilot phase was conducted between November 2022 and February 2023, with 13 countries volunteering to test the template.  Algeria, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa and Türkiye took part in the pilot phase and sent their reports to the Forum’s Secretariat.  Feedback on the format was also received from the United States.  Among the pilot countries’ recommendations was additional guidance on global forest goal 4.  The amended format was generally found to be more concise and simpler compared to the earlier format.  However, as data required is scattered and found in various institutions and agencies in the countries, the pilot countries recommended early and close coordination at the national level for engaging various relevant institutions and stakeholders.  Countries also reported the need for more capacity-building to improve the accuracy and consistency of forest-related data, as well as support to countries in preparation of their voluntary national reports to the Forum, he said, detailing the pilot countries’ other feedback and recommendations.

TOMAS JUSZCZAK, Sustainable Development Officer at the Forum Secretariat, stressed that the main focus of the Advisory Group on Reporting is to provide support on progress monitoring, reporting and assessment within the context of the global forest goals.  The Advisory Group will provide guidance on matters related to data sources, collection, indicators and the reporting format itself as well as on the methodology and tools to analyse the information it receives from Member States.  If the Forum decides to embark on another publication, the Advisory Group will assist on content, scope, design and promotion.

On composition, he said the Advisory Group should consist of 10 to 15 experts — with recognized expertise in sustainable forest management and practical international and national experience and knowledge of monitoring, assessment and reporting — and reflect a geographical and gender balance. Whenever there is a need for specific expertise, it will invite and involve experts in those specific areas of work.  He then noted that its mode of work will primarily be virtual and that reporting would occur through updates during the Forum’s session.  The Advisory Group will benefit both Member States and the Forum by enabling them to work more closely with each other by listening to their needs and concerns when developing tools and products in the area of monitoring, assessment and reporting, he underscored.

As the floor opened for the general discussion, speakers reported on their national monitoring and evaluation practices towards achieving the global forest goals, as well as giving feedback on the Global Workshop and the publication of the global forest goals, among other matters.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that indicators of global forest goals 2 and 3 need some improvement.  To raise the liability of data, he requested the Secretariat to provide another opportunity to some countries to share and review their estimators not on a continental, but on a country level.  Underlining the importance of goal 12’s indicator for forest-dependant countries, he pointed to the need for checking the actual status of each country to verify the methodology.  To this end, he requested the Secretariat to report and match the evaluation items to enable countries to analyse the implementation and achievements of their reports.

The representative of the Philippines expressed support for developing a new online reporting platform.  She noted that her country is compiling the forest resources assessment 2025 country report following its participation in the regional workshop of the National Correspondents held in Bangkok in April, and is planning to submit it within the established timeline, while using national Government agencies and academic research centres’ data sources. 

The representative of Brazil reported that a national system for forest information has contributed for over a decade to the creation of national forest indicators.  At the regional level, Brazil is engaged in the activities of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization — particularly the development of the Amazon Regional Observatory, which provides a platform with which to standardize forest indicators.  He pointed out, however, that many developing countries lack adequate capacity to create such indicators, calling for expanded support in this area.

The representative of Canada voiced her support for making the report on the global forest goals a recurring, impactful and concise publication that is disseminated six months after the forest-resources assessment occurs.  She also urged consideration of the use of the term “flagship publication” in this context, as that nomenclature triggers specific requirements within the United Nations system.  In addition, she suggested discussing options for establishing an online reporting platform in light of the need to minimize reporting burdens.

The representative of the Russian Federation said it was unacceptable to use terminology and methods of assessment that had not been agreed upon at the international level in the proposed format for voluntary national reporting.  It is important, in 2023, to assess the level of satisfaction of Member States regarding the work on the global core set of indicators with respect to forests, which has been ongoing for many years.  Member States should consider whether the work is worth continuing, taking into account the time, human and financial resources which should be allocated to that work, and perhaps consider adopting a decision on that during next year’s session. Turning to the publication on implementing the Strategic Plan for Forests, she said Member States should look at whether the decisions are being published in all United Nations working languages, in respect of multilingualism and to facilitate communications.

The representative of Australia expressed concern that the workshop held in March was “somewhat rushed” and did not facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences but rather delivered a series of updates with a lot of information supplied.  To this end, he asked the Secretariat to provide more data about the future reporting, assessment and monitoring workshops ahead of the Forum’s nineteenth session to enable States to maximize the value from these occasions. 

The representative of Saudi Arabia said the Government is planning to launch a digital reporting system for the Saudi Green Initiative to ensure spontaneous updates of information at all levels, with a real-time check on field activities.  Noting that the national Centre for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has been designated as a focal point for the Global Forest Resource Assessment, he said the country has already started developing its national forest monitoring system.

The representative of the Dominican Republic welcomed the workshop held in Panama in March relating to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2025.  He also welcomed certain publications, offered in both English and Spanish, regarding national forest inventories recently drawn up by approximately 25 countries in the Latin America region.  Further, he welcomed FAO’s efforts aimed at building countries’ capacity in forest-related issues.

An observer for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity said that the Forum and the Convention’s Secretariat must work together, including in promoting the complementarity of national planning processes relating to forests and biodiversity; encouraging better coordination and collaboration between agencies working on these issues; and facilitating joint initiatives and data exchange.  She also urged collaboration between both entities’ national focus points for monitoring and reporting to reduce the risk of discrepancies in the information submitted and used by different ministries.

The representative of the Major Group for Children and Youth said that while the flagship publication of the Global Forest Goals has been downloaded by thousands of users, there is limited awareness of it among forestry stakeholders.  There is a pressing need to promote the global forestry goals widely, particularly in forestry education and among youth, he stressed.  Noting the lack of standardized and comparable statistical data, he underscored young peoples’ readiness to provide valuable insight and perspectives to the proposed advisory group on reporting.

The representative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations expressed its willingness to contribute to the work of the proposed informal advisory group on reporting to the Forum on Forests.  Drawing on the multidisciplinary science expertise within its network, it would be in a good position to provide advice specifically on the methodologies and tools to be used by analysing the data and information received from countries in the reporting process, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.