The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is a high-level intergovernmental policy forum. The forum includes all United Nations Member States and Permanent Observers, the UNFF Secretariat, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, Regional Organizations and Processes and Major Groups.
In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, (“Earth Summit”) held in Rio de Janeiro, adopted the Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests (Forest Principles) together with Agenda 21, which included a chapter (Chapter 11) on “Combating Deforestation”.
Following the Earth Summit, the UN established the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and its successor, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF), to implement the Forest Principles and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21. From 1995 to 2000, the IPF/IFF processes dealt with such issues as underlying causes of deforestation; traditional forest-related knowledge; international cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer; development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; and trade and environment. The IPF/IFF processes resulted in a set of 270 proposals for action for the promotion of the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
In 2000, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) established the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) 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...
- 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.
Global objectives on forests
In 2006, at its sixth session, UNFF agreed on four shared Global Objectives on Forests which seek to:
Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests
On December 17, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests negotiated by the UNFF earlier that year. The purpose of this instrument is:
- To strengthen 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;
- To enhance the contribution of forests to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, in particular with respect to poverty eradication and environmental sustainability;
- To provide a framework for national action and international cooperation;
Collaborative Partnership on Forests
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), a grouping of 14 forest-related international organizations, institutions and convention secretariats, was established in April 2001, following the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The CPF works to support the work of the UNFF and its member countries and to foster increased cooperation and coordination on forests. Member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests include:
- The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is an international forestry research organization established by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It works through research partnerships as a 'centre without walls', taking a holistic, inter-disciplinary approach to solving general or widespread forest-related problems with the aim of contributing to the sustained well-being of people in developing countries, particularly in the tropics.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) helps developing countries and countries in transition modernise and improve their agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The Forestry Department champions a broad vision of sustainable forest management through policy advice, forest assessments and technical support to governments while fostering partnerships with civil society and industry in the implementation of national forest programmes.
- The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) promotes the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources. It develops internationally agreed policies and assists tropical member countries to adapt such policies to local circumstances and to implement them in the field through projects. As of 2009, it has supported more than 900 projects and activities with US$330 million in funding.
- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a conservation network of states, government agencies, nongovernment organisations, scientists and experts. The goal of IUCN's Forest Conservation Programme is to enhance and optimise the contribution of forests and trees to rural poverty reduction, the long-term and equitable conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable supply of forest-related goods and services.
- The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental international network of forest scientists. It promotes global cooperation in forest-related research and enhances the understanding of the ecological, economic and social aspects of forests and trees. It disseminates scientific knowledge to stakeholders and decision makers and contributes to forest policy and on-the-ground forest management.
- The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD Secretariat) supports the implementation of the convention, which has three goals: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components, and sharing the benefits from the use of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. The CBD addresses forest issues directly through its expanded programme of work on forest biological diversity, with the ecosystem approach as the primary framework for action, and through its other thematic programmes of work and work on cross-cutting issues, including on traditional knowledge and protected areas.
- The Secretariat of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) provides grants to developing countries for projects and programmes that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities. As a financial mechanism for the three environmental conventions dealing with forests (UNFCCC, CBD and UNCCD), the GEF has been funding activities in the field of sustainable forest management since its inception in 1991. Of the GEF's six focal areas, biodiversity, climate change and land degradation are particularly relevant to forests.
- The Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification works with member countries to implement the UNCCD. This convention is the only international, legally binding framework set up to address desertification and is based on the principles of participation, partnership and decentralisation. The UNCCD focuses on improving land productivity, rehabilitating land, and the conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources.
- The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat provides support to the international policy dialogue on sustainable forest management. The Secretariat works with a wide range of international organizations and stakeholders to facilitate cooperation and coordination on global forest issues. It serves as the focal point on all forest-related issues for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and also serves as the secretariat for the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides the basis for concerted international action to mitigate climate change and to adapt to its impacts. The UNFCCC Secretariat supports all institutions involved in the climate change process, particularly the Conference of the Parties. Among other things, the Secretariat is responsible for the publication, compilation and technical review of annual greenhouse gas inventories by Kyoto Protocol Annex I parties, including in the land use, land-use change, and forestry sector, and the consideration of policy approaches and positive incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN's global development network, an organisation advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It operates on the ground in 166 countries. UNDP is an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility.
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the voice for the environment in the UN system. UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and people to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP is an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility.
- The World Agroforestry Centre, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is the world’s leading research institution on the diverse roles trees play in agricultural landscapes and rural livelihoods. As part of our work to bring tree-based solutions to bear on poverty and environmental problems, centre researchers, working in close collaboration with national partners, have developed new technologies, tools and policy recommendations for increased food security and ecosystem health.
- The World Bank's mission is to reduce global poverty and improve living standards. Its forest strategy is built on three equally important and interlinked pillars: harnessing the potential of forests to reduce poverty, integrating forests into sustainable economic development and protecting global forest values. The World Bank is an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility.
Wangari Maathai Forest Champion Award
In 2012, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests launched the Wangari Maathai Forest Champion Award to honour the life and work of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai.