The 16th session of the United Nations Forum for Forests was held from 26 to 29 April 2021 via videoconference. It highlighted the importance of developing sustainable forest management to keep forests safe and ensure the preservation of biodiversity.
The UNFF was an opportunity to highlight the awareness linked to the COVID-19 pandemic: the health of humans and the health of ecosystems are intimately linked and cannot be understood independently of each other. With this in mind, the United Nations has reiterated the urgency of the implementation of its Strategic Plan for Forests (2017-2030) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Halting and reversing deforestation is indeed a key element to prevent the future occurrence of zoonotic diseases.
In addition, participants underlined the role of sustainable forest management in actively combating climate change, especially since it represents a solution to address unemployment and food insecurity. To contribute to the preservation of forest ecosystems, timber must of course not only be produced legally, but also sustainably, and must be traceable. Sustainable forest management, as many participants emphasized, contributes to fighting deforestation, protecting biodiversity, generating economic and social benefits from the forest industry, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Discussions at this 16th session established that the UNFF, which had so far contributed mainly to SDG 15 (preserve and restore terrestrial ecosystems) and 13 (climate change), had now become a leading voice for SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) by promoting responsible trade for forest products. This reaffirms the multifunctionality of forests in preserving ecosystem health and consequently human health.
While the issue of financing sustainable forest management was also raised, at the end of this last session, sustainable forest management is positioned as a major actor in the protection of forests and in the resilience of ecosystems on which the well-being and health of populations largely depend.
Daily highlights from the 16th session of the UNFF are available here.