Highlights and images for 9 May 2024

UN Headquarters, New York

Top officials discussed the importance of forests in combatting climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, and otherwise helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in an all-day High-Level Segment (HLS). Meanwhile negotiators continued to toil unsuccessfully behind closed doors to finalize texts of the High-Level Declaration in time for it to be endorsed by the top officials at the end of Thursday, and the omnibus resolution due to be adopted by the 19th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF19) on Friday. The declaration is intended to signal high-level commitment to forests going forward, while the resolution would set the mandate for specific future actions by the UNFF and its stakeholders.

Want to dig deeper? Read the full Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily report.

UNFF19 Chair Zéphyrin Maniratanga tried to set the tone for the HLS with a call to action on behalf of forests, particularly to halt and turn back deforestation, stating that "deforestation is not just a crime against nature, it's a betrayal of our collective future."

All of the speakers who provided opening remarks urged the HLS to adopt an action-oriented declaration that can guide future forest policy, with UN Under-Secretary-General Li Junhua and UN Economic and Social Council Vice President Ivan Šimonović both urging adoption of a declaration that provides inspiration
for the ongoing negotiations on a “Pact for the Future” which is expected to be adopted at the UN’s Summit of the Future in September.

QU Dongyu is the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization - UNFF19 - 9May2024

Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)

Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the UN FAO, in his role as Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), cautioned that while progress has been made since the UN Strategic Plan on Forests was adopted, only six years remain for the Plan to realize the ambitious goal of increasing forest cover by 3% by 2030. He called on UNFF to work together with CPF to produce tangible outcomes by 2030.

Dennis Francis, 78th President of the General Assembly - UNFF19 - 9May2024

Dennis Francis, 78th President of the General Assembly

ECOSOC Vice President Ivan Šimonović - UNFF19 - 9May2024

ECOSOC Vice President Ivan Šimonović

Afternoon PLenary 2 - UNFF19 - 9May2024

UNFF19 Vice-Chair Ismael Belen (Türkiye), and Ziad Mahmassani, United Nations Forum on Forests

Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs - UNFF19 - 9May2024

Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

After opening remarks, a high-level “roundtable” was held on the theme of “Forest-based solutions to the triple planetary crises: A focus on people, science, technology, and finance,” wherein Ministers and others in the room made brief statements in response to guiding questions posed by the moderators.

Aurélie Flora Koumba-Pambo, Gabon

Zhimin Wu, Director, Forestry Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, and Aurélie Flora Koumba-Pambo, Gabon

In the afternoon a “dialogue” was held on the theme “Achieving globally agreed goals on forests, climate change, and biodiversity.” It featured brief statements by representatives of several CPF member organizations, as well as a Brazilian Supreme Court judge and representatives of Major Groups, the International Sustainable Forest Coalition, and the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization. Member States then made a series of brief interventions.

The informal group tackling the draft declaration met in the morning in parallel to the HLS and again in the afternoon after the HLS finished. The group was unable to finalize the text in time for adoption on Thursday. Some issues still in contention are the insufficiency of financial resources, the need for predictable resources, and whether technology transfer must be voluntary. Deliberations will continue on Friday morning.

Plenary Dais - UNFF19 - 9May2024

UNFF 19 Vice-Chair Javad Momeni (Iran), and Ziad Mahmassani, UNFF Secretariat

For its part, the informal group working on the omnibus resolution met before the HLS in the early morning to try to break logjams on issues such as new and additional financial resources for forests, gender, resources for the UNFF Secretariat, linkages to other environmental agreements and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the use of unilateral coercive measures. The group will meet again on Friday morning in hopes of finalizing the resolution for adoption by the Forum plenary on Friday afternoon.