Summary highlights 4 May – 4 June 2020

Boris Greguška, Slovakia, UNFF15 Chair

Boris Greguška, Slovakia, UNFF15 Chair


The fifteenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF15) was scheduled to convene from 4-8 May 2020 at UN Headquarters in New York. However, UNFF15 quickly became yet another casualty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of meeting in person, the UNFF15 Bureau agreed that the Forum would hold virtual informal consultations with the aim of adopting an omnibus resolution.

As outlined in the UNFF Quadrennial Programme of Work (4POW) for the period 2017-2020, UNFF15 as an “even-year” session should have focused on policy dialogue, development, and decision-making. UNFF15 was expected to adopt a resolution on several important issues including the 4POW for 2021-2024, and hold a high-level segment to adopt a ministerial declaration.

Instead, the Bureau prepared the UNFF15 draft resolution through a transparent and consultative process involving submission of inputs by members and stakeholders, and circulation of three revisions by email. To reach consensus and tackle pending issues, UNFF Member States held a virtual informal consultation on 4 June 2020.

On 25 June 2020, UNFF15 Chair Boris Greguška (Slovakia) put the resulting decisions under the silence procedure until 4:00 pm New York time, on 30 June 2020. The silence procedure provides UN Member States with at least 72 hours to raise objections on a draft resolution or decision, and allows for explanations of position. The final decisions included the provisional agenda for UNFF16, the dates and venue of UNFF16, the UNFF15 draft report; and a decision to appoint Khalid Cherki (Morocco) to serve as Rapporteur for UNFF15.

The UNFF15 omnibus resolution, which covers six out of the 13 UNFF15 agenda items:

  • adopts the programme of work for UNFF16 in 2021, and requests the Forum to decide on the programme of work for 2022-2024;
  • requests the Secretariat to continue to develop the Forum’s concise flagship publication on progress towards achieving the Global Forest Goals and targets;
  • requests the Secretariat to propose refinements to the format for reporting on voluntary national contributions based on lessons learned;
  • requests the Secretariat to continue work on designing the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network clearing house, and report progress at UNFF17;
  • welcomes the adoption of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests strategic vision towards 2030;
  • invites the Forum to provide concise targeted inputs to annual sessions of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF);
  • welcomes the agreement of the General Assembly to retain the sub-programme on sustainable forest management of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and maintain the classification of the post of Director of UNFF; and
  • requests the UN Secretary-General to expedite the recruitment and appointment process for the post of UNFF Director.

Read the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary and analysis from UNFF15 in English (in HTML or PDF format) or in French (in HTML or PDF format).