United Nations Forum on Forest (UNFF)

The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was established in 2000 in order to promote principles for sustainable forest management and explore the possibility of an international agreement on forestry. In 2017, the UNFF adopted the United Nations Strategic Plan on Forests (UNSPF) that provides a global framework for action to accelerate sustainable forest use and to end deforestation. A central element of the UNSPF are the six Global Forest Goals (GFGs). They contain a holistic approach towards the management of diverse and distinct forest ecosystems and are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GFGs set out in the UNSPF include reversing the loss of forest cover, improving the livelihood of forest-dependent communities and eradicate extreme poverty of them, increasing the area of protected and sustainably managed forests, mobilizing additional financial resources for the implementation of sustainable forest management, promoting governance frameworks that enable sustainable forest management and enhancing the cooperation, coordination, coherence and synergies on forest-related issues at all levels. Every year member states are meeting in New York to monitor progress on the implementation of the UNSPF and exchange in technical and political sessions ideas, knowledge and experiences on respective works and achievements. The Forum has universal membership and is composed of all Member States of the United Nations and specialized agencies, resulting in the largest UN body to date.

The ongoing reform of the UN restructure has recently shifted the UNFF to become a division within UN DESA (Department for Economic and Social Affairs).

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IFSA’s Engagement

Civil society is a central element of the UNFF and crucial for the implementation of the UNSPF and the GFGs. Within the forum, several so-called ‘Major Groups’ are the formal constituencies to engage civil society. The UNFF Major Group of Children and Youth (MGCY) is led by the IFSA and represents a central stakeholder group within the forum. In 2018, we established our own formal work plan for the years 2018-2020 in order to accelerate youth’ contributions. This work plan aims to develop capacity among youth with respect to the Landscape Approach, accelerate educational activities on sustainable forest management and strengthen the participation and voice of youths in policy dialogues. Every year in May, IFSA, as part of UN MGCY, travels with a delegation to the UNFF in New York. As part of the policy delegation, young people are given the opportunity and responsibility for supporting preparations for UNFF, contributing to writing statements, and potentially making interventions. In addition, webinars are developed to prepare the delegations and other interested people with respect to the history and dynamics of the UNFF, as well as emerging issues in international forest policy. Beyond this, IFSA critically contributes to organising the Major Group Initiative in Nairobi in 2020, as well as to provide critical youth’ perspectives on a variety of forest topics.

Meet the Heads of Commission

Celina Schelle (left) and Frederik Bucholz (right) are heading the UNFF Sub-Commission

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