As Forum on Forests Session Continues, Delegates Discuss Midterm Review Preparation, Trust Fund Status, Emerging Issues on Forest-Energy Nexus
As the Forum on Forests addressed its preparations for the midterm review on the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests and the status of its Trust Fund, as well as emerging issues facing forest management, speakers today underlined the need to improve transparency, increase funding and build on the forests-energy-livelihoods nexus.
Juliette Biao, Director of the Forum Secretariat — introducing its note titled “Update on the preparations for the midterm review in 2024 of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests” (document E/CN.18/2023/6) — stressed that independence, transparency and inclusiveness have been central for all intersessional preparatory work. Assessments reports have been produced, meetings have been held and stakeholders have been actively engaged.
She also noted that remaining preparations include an expert group meeting on the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network and the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 from 20 to 22 June in Nairobi and an open-ended intergovernmental ad hoc expert group meeting from 10 to 13 October in Vienna.
She also presented the Forum Secretariat’s note titled “The Trust Fund for the United Nations Forum on Forests” (document E/CN.18/2023/7). Although the Trust Fund received $975,833 from five donor countries, declining contributions for the travel of experts may inhibit the balanced representation in future meetings. Voluntary contributions are the reason the Forum Secretariat is heralded as a compact but effective team, she asserted.
In the ensuing discussions, speakers offered recommendations to the Forum on modalities, participation and finances, with several calling for more transparency.
Jamaica’s delegate, voicing his support for hybrid formats, encouraged the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to use its networks to support the Forum. This will not only facilitate a wider range of responses but will more importantly ensure that all relevant issues are considered during the midterm review process, he said.
The representative of Mali stressed that enhancing synergies with other forest-related processes avoids duplication while optimizing available means. To deliver quality results, the Forum should improve its transparency in decision-making, communications on forests and visibility.
Building on that, Australia’s delegate pointed out that organizing events on short notice limits participation. The Forum Secretariat should use hybrid modalities and prepare calendars in greater consultation with Member States. “Budgets are stretched — we have to plan,” he underscored.
Echoing calls for transparency, Germany’s representative said this would allow States to make better decisions by seeing where the gaps are. His Government, for example, has provided more than $400,000 in 2023 to support the midterm review process and the participation of major groups.
The representative of the Republic of Korea encouraged the Forum to highlight the Strategic Plan’s urgency and disseminate its Secretariat’s outcomes. Underlining the overall need for more contributions, he pointed out they are used to build developing countries’ capacities.
Papua New Guinea’s delegate, highlighting the difficulties developing countries face in accessing financing from the Green Climate Fund, urged industrial States to redirect their contributions to the Trust Fund. If forest nations such as his are to play a bigger role in conserving forest resources to mitigate climate change, then these countries must have the necessary funding, he insisted.
The Forum also held a panel discussion on emerging issues to showcase the important contributions of forests and their sustainable management to energy, livelihoods and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Panellists suggested ways to move towards an integrated approach, while several delegates — such as the representative of Saudi Arabia, on addressing forest fires, and the representative of Ecuador, on reducing energy use in manufacturing new products — raised issues of concern during the subsequent interactive dialogue. Responding to their questions, panellists underlined broader concerns regarding the circular economy, local solutions, technology, policy and practice.
John Parrotta, President of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations, pointed out that forests provide clean air, facilitate sustainable agriculture, and regulate the climate. Paying greater attention to their invaluable role for daily life can accelerate progress on the Global Goals. However, balancing the multiple demands on forests will require coordination and compromise from policymakers and stakeholders.
Zhimin Wu, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization Forestry Division and Partnership Chair, urged all to look “outside the box” by considering the relationship with agriculture and energy. Doing so can promote joint policy actions on their multifunctionality, he said, also calling for innovation on utilizing wood residue efficiently.
In that vein, Sheam Satkuru, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization, spotlighted her organization’s projects showcasing the potential of bioenergy. As a “new window of opportunity” for small-scale energy producers, forests — when properly safeguarded — not only serve as a source of environmentally friendly energy, but also provide employment to millions.
Tim Scott, Senior Policy Adviser at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), called for governance systems, strengthened institutional capacities and targeted financing. A just energy transition must mitigate unintended negative impacts on workers; public and market incentives must reflect sustainable wood production’s true costs; and access to clean, affordable and efficient technology for wood-fuel processing must increase, he emphasized.
Mirey Atallah, Head of Nature for Climate Branch at the United Nations Environment Programme, echoing the need to reflect true costs, pointed out that forest countries are being told how to use their proceeds. Since equity and integrity will be critical for forests to assume their role in sustainable development, livelihoods and the energy crisis, she voiced hope that the world will provide more resources for forests. “Where money flows, action follows,” she stressed.
In other business today, the Forum concluded its general discussions on “Thematic priorities for the 2023-2024 biennium, in support of the implementation of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests” and “Interlinkages between the global forest goals and targets and the Sustainable Development Goals under review by the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2023, the work towards post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and other international forest-related developments”. (For background, see Press Release ENV/DEV/2060).
The Forum on Forests will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 12 May, to close its eighteenth session.
Midterm Review of International Arrangement on Forests
JULIETTE BIAO, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat — introducing its note titled “Update on the preparations for the midterm review in 2024 of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests” (document E/CN.18/2023/6) — said it outlines the progress on and remaining activities for implementing the Economic and Social Council resolution 2022/17 on the preparations for the midterm review of effectiveness of the International Arrangement on Forests.
Independence, transparency and inclusiveness have been central in conducting all intersessional preparatory work, she reported. Following the Forum’s seventeenth session, the Secretariat developed a questionnaire to seek feedback on the resolution’s implementation. Assessment reports were then produced by a team of consultants, she noted, highlighting the valuable input and active engagement of the Forum’s Members and stakeholders in intercessional activities and meetings. All assessment reports have since been complied and published on the Forum’s website.
One expert group meeting and an initiative led by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests were organized, she continued. These meetings — held in January and March in Bangkok and Rome — discussed the findings of four assessment reports, namely the Forum’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the involvement of major groups, the involvement of regional and subregional partners, and actions related to the Partnership.
Remaining preparatory work includes an expert group meeting on the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network and the implementation of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 from 20 to 22 June in Nairobi, she said. There is also an open-ended intergovernmental ad hoc expert group meeting to be held from 10 to 13 October in Vienna.
Considering the importance of these remaining activities, all Forum Members must continue their engagement, she underscored, commending China, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the United States in particular for their contributions. In light of the remaining financing gap, Members who are capable of doing so should provide voluntary contributions to the Forum Trust Fund. This will enable the Forum Secretariat to organize remaining meetings with the wide participation of Forum Members and stakeholders, she pointed out.
The floor then opened up for a general discussion on the midterm review, with speakers both commending the Forum’s activities and calling for improvements in the organization and format of meetings, as well as expanded participation from Member States and forest-based communities, among other matters.
The representative of Jamaica welcomed the update on preparations for the 2024 midterm review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests, supporting both efforts to obtain comprehensive feedback from Member States and the use of hybrid formats. However, noting low responses to date, he encouraged the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to use its networks and regional mechanisms to solicit increased responses from a wider representation of Member States. This will ensure that all relevant issues are taken into consideration during the review process, he said.
The representative of Mexico welcomed work by the Forum’s Secretariat over the past year to incorporate assessment reports and organize discussion groups in preparation for the midterm review. However, she urged the facilitation of a greater exchange between Members and forest-proximate communities to ensure that those who live near forests — such as Indigenous Peoples — can be involved in the process. She also said that the hybrid format for the midterm review will ensure full participation by stakeholders, as not all Governments and entities have the ability or budget to travel.
The representative of the United States noted that, in 2023 the dates, locations, modalities and background papers for the intersessional meetings were not all released with advance notice, thus making it difficult for Member States to plan their annual travel budgets. Pointing out that intersessional meetings without adequate preparation and representation are not productive, she requested the Secretariat to post documents and confirm hybrid modalities for the Workshop on the International Arrangement on Forests, to be held in Vienna in October, ahead of time.
The representative of China encouraged the Secretariat to create conditions for a greater participation of Member States and relevant organizations, in order to ensure that the review results reflect the status of the International Arrangements on Forests and contribute to the achievement of its objectives. To this end, his Government will provide support for the review activities, including relevant meetings, by utilizing its contribution to the Trust Fund.
The representative of Mali encouraged the Forum to enhance synergies with other processes that address issues concerning forests, not only to avoid duplication but also to optimize available means. To improve the quality of results, the Forum should improve transparency in decision-making, communications on forests, visibility and financial contributions with a view to addressing the concerns that have been raised.
The representative of Australia, noting his confusion by the recent Forum event in April in New York, pointed out that the organization of that clearinghouse brainstorming session on such short notice limited participation. In the future, the Forum Secretariat should prepare meeting calendars with greater consultation from Member States through Bureau representatives. While in-person meetings have their benefits, hybrid modalities should be continued where possible. He also asked for further information on how the ad hoc expert group will be conducted, what its outcome will entail and what will happen in that meeting and its led up to the Forum’s nineteenth session. “Budgets are stretched — we have to plan,” he underscored.
The representative of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, announcing her intention to participate in upcoming meetings, voiced her desire to be part of the open-ended group of experts. The Treaty Organization has been actively participating by providing information on the regional work of Amazon countries within the framework of the midterm review. Regional organizations such as hers have quality information and important results, she stressed, urging their consideration in the midterm review.
Ms. BIAO, responding, confirmed the hybrid format for the June meeting, which will likely occur in Nairobi. However, this will not be possible for the meeting in Vienna, she noted, as interpretation would cost twice that of conference services. Outlining the preparatory process to prepare a zero-draft of a resolution for consideration at the Forum’s nineteenth session, she said informal consultations with Member States will be initiated immediately following the conclusion of the June meeting. Certain background documents have already been posted, she informed delegations, adding that missing documents and the programme for the ad hoc expert groups will be posted in advance of the relevant meeting.
United Nations Forum on Forests Trust Fund
Ms. BIAO, introducing the Secretariat’s note titled “The trust fund for the United Nations Forum on Forests” (document E/CN.18/2023/7), underlined the importance of voluntary contributions for the implementation of the Forum’s core activities. While the Secretariat provides a report on the Forum’s Trust Fund, the respective note presents an overview of the relevant contributions and expenditures in 2022.
Five donor countries — Australia, China, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the United States — contributed $975,833 to the Trust Fund in 2022, she reported, while pointing out that, in 2020, the capacity-development related travel, including other staff-related expenses, accounted for 21 per cent of staffing costs and 53 per cent of expenditure. Reiterating that the Trust Fund will continue to provide supplementary funding for the Secretariat’s staffing needs, she expressed concern over the declining contributions for experts’ travel that might prevent the balanced representation of developed and developing countries at the future meetings.
Recalling that, in recent years, even finding funds to cover airfare has become a serious challenge, she welcomed the contributions provided by Germany and the Republic of Korea to this end in 2023. “The Forum’s Secretariat is often held as an example of a compact but effective team,” she added, noting that voluntary contributions enable it to deliver on its core functions.
The floor then opened for a general discussion on the Trust Fund, with speakers calling for more voluntary contributions to ensure expanded participation by delegations from developing countries and forest nations, among other issues.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, underscoring the need for more voluntary contributions, emphasized that the Forum should highlight the urgency of the Strategic Plan’s implementation and disseminate its Secretariat’s outcomes so as to encourage more contributions. Since voluntary contributions are used to develop the Network, build developing countries’ capacities and support intercessional activities and ad hoc expert group activities, his Government requested information on the status of contributions support by project. He also asked if there are enough voluntary contributions in practical terms.
The representative of Papua New Guinea stressed that, if forest nations are to play a bigger role in managing and conserving forest resources to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the contributions of larger, industrial nations to the Green Climate Fund should instead be directed to the Forum Trust Fund. Developing countries such as his notably face difficulties in accessing financing from the Green Climate Fund because of its processes. Redirecting contributions to the Trust Fund will make it easier for Forum Members to access funding for activities related to sustainable forest management, he pointed out.
The representative of Switzerland, underlining the importance of understanding the Trust Fund’s needs, said that clear indications of the same for staffing and upcoming projects — on an ongoing basis, not just once a year — would be useful. Noting that the Trust Fund covered one P-3 position in 2022, but plans to have three such positions in 2023, she asked for clarification in this area, including what is paid for by the regular budget and what is extrabudgetary.
The representative of Germany, noting that his country contributed more than $400,000 to the Trust Fund in 2023, said such funds were provided to support the midterm review process and the participation of major groups in the Forum. Urging other States to consider supporting major groups, he also joined calls for the Forum’s Secretariat to be more transparent regarding its needs. This will allow States to see where gaps are and make better decisions regarding their voluntary contributions.
The representative of the African Forest Forum said the Trust Fund was a “window opened” at the creation of the current international regulation on forests when no agreement on a dedicated Global Forests Fund was reached. Since then, “additional windows” were opened for forestry programmes under the Rio Conventions, he recalled, while pointing out that the access for many developing countries has been difficult, “if not impossible”. Further, he noted with deep concern the decline of the Fund, underscoring that, if the Forum is to continue being a global institution for forest policies, relevant resources must be made available. To this end, he urged States to step up and make contributions to the Fund, while requesting the Secretariat to conduct consultations with the non-contributing countries and report on their outcome.
Ms. BIAO, responding to the questions and comments, pledged to make the organizational chart available and to provide further information on the funding gap. She also acknowledged the observation from the African Forest Forum and said the Forum Secretariat will conduct consultations and report on the outcome.
MITA SEN, Programme Management Officer, Forest Affairs Programme Management, responding to the question on P-3 post expenditures, explained that one P-3 post was charged in 2022. While there are two P-3 posts related to the Trust Fund, the Forum Secretariat was able to temporarily charge one against the United Nations regular budget since it had a staff member on an unpaid leave of absence, thereby resulting in lower expenditures for 2022. Staffing costs for 2023 notably include funding one P-3 for a full year and two P-3s for a partial year. These three P-3s concern the Network, monitoring, reporting and assessment, and the new Public Information Officer role that has been created with funding from the Trust Fund and Germany, she noted.
Panel on Emerging Issues: Forests, Energy and Livelihoods
The Forum then held a panel discussion centred on emerging issues related to forests, energy and livelihoods. Moderated by Paola Deda, Director of the Forest, Land and Housing Division, Economic Commission for Europe, it featured presentations by: John Parrotta, President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations; Sheam Satkuru, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization; Zhimin Wu, Director of the Forestry Division, Food and Agriculture Organization, and Chair of the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests; Tim Scott, Senior Policy Adviser at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and Mirey Atallah, Head of Nature for Climate Branch, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Mr. PARROTTA said that achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals could be accelerated by paying greater attention to the role forests play in all aspects of daily life, which varies at different spatial scales. Locally, forests provide critical ecosystem services such as clean air and water, soil fertility and climate regulation. Further, they support sustainable agriculture by providing shade and water to crops, along with pest control. They also provide for local livelihoods through the sustainable harvest of non-timber forest products, mitigate natural disasters and hold significant cultural and spiritual value for local communities, particularly Indigenous Peoples. At a regional and global scale, they provide clean water, regulate the climate through the sequestration of greenhouse gases and preserve biodiversity. Thus, sustainable forest-management practices can ensure that these resources are used in a responsible, equitable way — providing not only resources to support livelihoods and reduce poverty, but also contributing to achieving a broad range of Goals including gender equality, energy security and economic growth. He added that balancing the multiple — and sometimes conflicting — demands placed on forests requires coordination and compromise between policymakers and stakeholders across spatial scales and national borders.
Ms. SATKURU said that the International Tropical Timber Organization covers over 80 per cent of global tropical forest resources and accounts for 90 per cent of their products’ trade. Reporting that bioenergy has grown by 8 per cent in the past decade, she said it provides employment to 3.4 million people globally. Forests are a source of environmentally friendly renewable energy, when appropriate safeguards are in place, she added. To this end, the organization has conducted a number of projects, including reforestation of degraded lands for biomass production in Indonesia. Noting that around 50 per cent of wood residues from the timber industry operations in the tropics could be used to generate energy, she emphasized that wood-based bioenergy has an advantage over the agriculture-based bioenergy in terms of carbon dioxide mitigation. It is a “new window of opportunity” for small-scale renewable energy producers, she said, while detailing projects implemented in Brazil, Cambodia and Côte d'Ivoire. She also described the charcoal production project in Togo, which aims at improving the livelihood of the communities reliant on this resource, while empowering women to increase agroforestry products.
Mr. WU said that forests, energy and livelihoods are deeply embedded in all the priorities of FAO, but especially in its work on enhancing sustainable production and livelihood. At least 33 million people around the world are employed in the forestry sector. Providing an overview of global wood consumption, he said that per capita consumption has been slowing down over time partly because of the steadily increasing growth of wood consumption combined with a sharp growth in population. Mainstreaming the nexus among forest, energy and livelihood can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to poverty and hunger. Calling for cross-sectoral and coherent approaches, he said that it is crucial to look at forests “outside the box” and consider its relationship with the agriculture and energy sectors. That can help promote joint policy actions relating to the multifunctionality of forests. FAO is also working to improve the availability of data on wood consumption, he said, pointing to a number of online databases and resources it maintains. Also noting that it is hosting the secretariat of the Global Bio-Energy Partnership, he highlighted the shockingly high rate of wood residue. Innovation and technological transformation is required to utilize wood residue efficiently, he said, noting that a large portion of forest wood ends up as residue.
Mr. SCOTT presented ways to leverage synergies across the forests, energy and livelihoods nexus. Policymakers, partners and other stakeholders can consider options for increasing and better targeting finance and investment around the nexus area, including public and private, domestic and international, and hybrid spheres. There is also a need to strengthen institutional capacities, public and private sector systems of governance, including social and environmental safeguards and standards. As well, a just energy transition that mitigates unintended negative impact on workers in formal and informal sectors must be ensured. Regarding finance and technology, he suggested shifting public and market incentives, including repurposing harmful subsidies, as well as establishing market prices for wood to reflect the true costs of sustainable wood production. Access to clean, affordable and efficient technology for cooking and wood-fuel processing could be strengthened and increased. Turning to cross-cutting themes, he underscored the importance of increasing the engagement of stakeholders, including marginalized groups. He also called for investing in applied, science, data and digitalization; promoting circularity, health and gender equality; and strengthening South-South and triangular cooperation. Next step options include policy recommendations aligned with the Forum’s thematic priorities and advanced through advocacy and high-ambition commitments at global and regional forums, he said.
Ms. ATALLAH, noting that the transition in critical sectors will take time, stressed that the world cannot achieve the target of 1.5°C without forests. The current forest finance model is slow, cumbersome, intergenerationally inequitable and unable to provide sufficient incentives for a system change, she pointed out. Instead of a negotiated price that reflects true costs, the demand side of the carbon market has set carbon prices at $5 per ton. A single standard which does not reflect multiple forest types, safeguards and social-protection mechanisms associated with forests is being applied, she added, calling for change. She also highlighted the need to incentivize forests as a vehicle for sustainable development and address the current practice in which forest countries are being told how to use their proceeds. Equity and integrity are critical for ensuring that forests can play a role in sustainable development, livelihoods and the energy crisis. “Where money flows, action follows,” she said, voicing her hope that the world will provide more resources for the sake of forests.
When the floor opened for interactive dialogue, Member States highlighted national efforts and underlined relevant domestic policies.
The representatives of Saudi Arabia and India both expressed concern over the increasing incidence of forest fires, calling for measures to address this issue. The latter delegate also detailed challenges relating to the forest-certification process, noting that the majority of the world’s certified forests are in developed countries due to the significant burden such a process places on developing countries. The representative of the Congo, meanwhile, detailed national efforts to reduce anthropogenic pressure on natural forests to fight deforestation, climate change and poverty.
Member States also posed questions to the panellists, with the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, asking for examples of innovative ways to use wood residues for modern bioenergy.
Mr. WU, responding, drew attention to the innovative ways of using wood residues, including replacing plastic sticks. Regarding a more industrialized use, timber residues could be used for composite wood production, while bamboo is often used for making laminated floors, he added.
Ms. SATKURU said that, from the trade perspective, the innovative use of wood residues depends on whether they are sawdust or solid pieces, as well as the end product to be manufactured. Noting that compacted sawdust is mainly used to produce briquettes and heating palettes, she said some wood offcut products — coming from infested tree species — can be put into energy-generation, manufacturing of small wooden products and home-building.
The representative of Mali, noting the use of wood for energy in many African countries, then asked about the Forum’s collaborations on sustainable forest wood management.
Ms. SATKURU offered to talk with her afterwards.
The representative of Ecuador called for more support for countries working to conserve mangrove forests and asked about how to reduce the use of energy in manufacturing new products from wood residue.
Responding, Mr. SCOTT said the answer is not so much about wood residue, but a broader question about the circular economy. Ms. ATALLAH called for local solutions and technology, while Mr. PARROTTA said that policymakers should consider the most efficient forms of energy.
The representative of the United States, noting that her country is the biggest exporter of wood pellets in the world, emphasized that pellets and biomass energy in economic alternatives are helping to reduce pressure on United States forests. She asked about opportunities at the international level, including with United Nations Energy or other bodies, in which her country could engage to that end.
Mr. SCOTT said there are many entry points for partnerships and initiatives that could be “piggybacked on”. Another entry point could be the Clean Cooking Alliance, which is supported by many Member States.
Ms. SATKURU emphasized private sector collaboration, which has been going on for close to three decades. She recalled that there had an issue in the European market with United States pellet production being imported into the Dutch market, including discussions on source sustainability. However, the Sustainable Forest Initiative and American Tree Fund system were already endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. That was a huge gate opener to get the smallholder pellet production from the United States into the United Kingdom and the European market through that collaborative exercise.
The representative of Brazil said it is important to avoid overly simplistic conclusions, including that wood-based would have advantage over agriculture-based bioenergy. He asked how UNEP and other organizations on the panel can support countries in monitoring and improving the assessment of forest ecosystem services.
Ms. ATALLAH said UNEP has been working, together with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on including natural capital accounting and integration of natural capital into domestic accounts. This includes looking at forests in terms of capital assets and considering the possible creation of a new asset value, as well as looking at issues of connection between forests and hydrological cycles.
Mr. SCOTT spotlighted a global initiative called the United Nations Biodiversity Lab, which includes UNEP and UNDP as partners. That type of monitoring allows countries to map geospatial data with all other types of quantitative and qualitative data available, including through emerging forest accounts under ecosystem valuation.
Mr. WU said new and innovative ways of doing agroforestry must be considered, including cloud technology and the proper use of artificial intelligence. Innovative ideas and technology can increase the supply of products from forests, while allowing conventional ways to sustain forests.
Ms. SATKURU, clarifying her earlier point, said it was not her intention to make a very simplified assumption that wood biomass or bioenergy would have an advantage over agricultural biofuels. Brazil, unlike other countries, is advanced in its technology and applications. Her comment was made in the context and spirit of global forest goals 1 and 2 and utilizing waste products to complement energy needs in a sustainable way, as well as reducing waste and emissions, she said.
Mr. PARROTTA said Brazil has a long track record and expertise in bioenergy, particularly regarding sugarcane and increasingly in forest landscape restoration. Those two areas of expertise could be brought together, he said, adding that an important strategy in forest landscape restoration is to incorporate energy costs in forest landscape restoration plans.
The representative of Switzerland, noting current debates in his country relating to converting fossil-fuel heating systems to wood-based ones, asked about the feasibility of applying safeguards on wood used for bioenergy.
Ms. SATKURU, responding, said that this is the whole point of implementing sustainable forest management. If wood from a particular source can be accredited as legally harvested, then it should suffice for the importing country to use it as a wood resource.
The representative of Australia, urging that the conversation on preventing forest fires be more sophisticated, as fire can provide certain ecological benefits, asked if any organizations or countries are considering the link between mechanical fuel load reduction and biofuel — particularly in light of the increased incidence of forest fires.
Mr. PARROTTA suggested looking into the United States Forest Service’s practices in the western part of that country.
Mr. WU, noting that certain organizations are questioning the practice of prescribed burning, stressed that the international community should follow what science says is beneficial for the prevention and management of wildfires.
Concluding the session, Ms. DEDA posed the question: “What’s next?” To this end, technology, science and innovation in technology and financing, with the inclusion of private sector and an innovative investment, should be addressed in the future. More so, she highlighted the importance of enhancing consumer awareness, developing a new way of communication and addressing urban development. “We need to talk about forests […] and [their] importance for the Sustainable Development Goals,” she stressed.
Ms. SATKURU pointed out that certification is seen to be synonymous with sustainability. However, for tropical counties certification is not the panacea to the ills of forest management, but one of the tools that helps them to move towards sustainable management, while providing independent third-party assessments.
Mr. WU encouraged those present to “think loud, but do concrete [actions]”.
Ms. ATALLAH welcomed a conversation on wildfires and forest-restoration and pointed out that UNEP is hosting an intergovernmental negotiations committee on a new treaty on plastic pollution and plastic waste.