The United Nations Forum on Forests18
From May 8-12, 2023, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF18) held its eighteenth session in New York, addressing the crucial topic of integrated policies on sustainable forest management (SFM) and energy to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.
- Aim: To explore the nexus between sustainable forest management, energy, livelihoods, and the achievement of SDGs, fostering global collaboration and knowledge-sharing in these crucial areas.
Key Points of the Discussion
- Importance of SFM: The executive director of the International Tropical Timber Organization, emphasized the organization's commitment to practicing SFM in tropical regions.
- Sustainable sourcing of tropical timber was highlighted as a crucial aspect of SFM.
- Role of Forests in Energy and Livelihoods: The forestry director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlighted that forest ecosystems provide 55 percent of renewable energy requirements, benefiting over five billion people globally. Additionally, 33 million individuals are directly employed in the forestry sector, and industrially harvested trees contribute significantly to bioenergy.
- Forests' Contribution to Reducing Emissions: Head of UNEP's Nature for Climate branch, cited the Emissions Gap Report, which states that forests have the potential to reduce five gigatonnes of emissions.
- It was noted that demand determines carbon market prices rather than the supply of forest goods.
- India’s country-led Initiative:India presented a UNFF country-led initiative on long-term SFM, addressing concerns about wildfires and current forest certification schemes.
- Most Forested and Carbon-Negative Country: Suriname, claiming to be the most forested and carbon-negative country, shared its experiences with economic pressure impacting green cover and environmental policies. They committed to significant renewable energy targets.
- Preventing Forest Fires:Saudi Arabia emphasized the need to prevent forest fires and urban expansion encroaching on forests.
- Balancing Forest Conservation and Livelihoods: Congo and the Dominican Republic called for strategies to reduce pressures on natural forests while improving livelihoods, given their heavy dependency on fuelwood.
- Conservation Measures: Various forest conservation measures such as SFM, REDD+, forest planning, and certification were highlighted. (Note: REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the "+" refers to the role of conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks).
- Innovative Approaches: Suggestions were made to replace plastic sticks with compacted bamboo or sawdust residues for producing briquettes and pellets.
- China’s Achievement:China shared its achievement of generating 41.32 gigawatts of power through wood biomass, contributing to its goal of carbon neutrality before 2030 and also emphasized the need for financially feasible wood residue markets.
- Transitioning Towards Agroforestry: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressed the importance of integrated and innovative approaches to transition towards agro-food and agroforestry.