Monday, January 07, 2008

May the forests be with you

Regardless of how successful we may ultimately be in getting the nations of the world to conserve energy, be more efficient in its use and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, the fact remains that we've already loaded the atmosphere with enough carbon to ensure that some measure of climate change appears inevitable. To the extent that we can do anything about that depends on our ability to extract some of that carbon from the atmosphere.

No small feat.

Of course, when it comes to sequestering carbon, nobody does it better than Mother Nature. Representatives to The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) made this point at their meeting last spring and were able to get the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution stressing the importance of implementing sustainable forestry practices throughout the world.

UN adopts ‘historic’ non-legally binding instrument to protect forests

By Reinir Padua
January 7, 2008

The United Nations has adopted a non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests, a move seen as a global approach to protect the world’s forests amid growing concerns about climate change.

According to the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted last Dec. 17 a resolution approving the instrument as endorsed by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) at its seventh session held last April.

“The UNGA President hailed the adoption of the General Assembly of the resolution as a reflection of the strong international commitment to promote the implementation of sustainable forest management through a new and more holistic approach that brings all stakeholders together,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

The DFA said Hans Hoogoeveen of the Netherlands, current chair of the UNFF, considered the adoption of the instrument as historic.

UN Philippine Permanent Representative Hilario Davide Jr. said the Philippines has been an active participant in the talks on the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests during the past sessions of the UNFF.

Davide cited the Philippines’ success in the inclusion in the instrument of the “Means of Implementation for Sustainable Forest Management in the Multi-year Program of Work.”

He said the Philippines also pushed for the inclusion of the clause “law enforcement” in lieu of the controversial concept of “good governance” in the non-legally binding instrument.

The instrument is aimed at strengthening “political commitment and action at all levels to implement effectively sustainable management of all types of forests and to achieve the shared global objectives on forests.”

The global objectives include the enhancement of forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits, increasing the area of protected forests worldwide and other areas of sustainably managed forests and reversal of the decline in official development assistance for sustainable forest management.

To achieve these, members should implement measures like the development of national forestry programs or other strategies for sustainable forest management; promotion of efficient production and processing of forest products to reduce waste and enhance recycling; encouragement of private sector investment; review and improvement of forest-related legislation and strengthening of forestry law enforcement.

Hoogoeveen said the outcome of UNFF-7 is seen as a milestone to also enhance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

He stressed that studies on global warming have stated the linkage between forests and climate change.

The DFA noted that it took governments 15 years since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to end its negotiations on a global approach to protect the world’s forests, considered as the last remaining hope for the world to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Incoming UNFF-8 chair Boen Purnama, Secretary General of Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia, said that with the approval of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests, the UNGA affirmed the critical role of forests to the achievement of broader international development goals, sustainable development and the protection of the earth’s fragile environment.

Pekka Patossari, director of the UNFF secretariat, said the resolution adopting the instrument was a major step toward the creation of a new “people-centered” forest policy.

As part of the attempt to ensure the active participation of the youth in the sustainable development of forests, the Government of the Netherlands has decided to establish the UNFF-Netherlands Fellowship that will provide students from all over the world the chance to pursue studies in the field of international forest policy.


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