IUCN Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre addresses the Collaborative Partnership on Forests high level meeting during the 9th UN Forum on Forests, 3 February.
IUCN is very pleased to be part of this discussion at what is a very interesting time for forests.
The pressure put on the international community by the International Year of Biodiversity raised the profile of biodiversity, and helped to forge agreement in Nagoya in October 2010.
The Conference of the Parties to the biodiversity convention adopted a new strategic plan with 20 targets. Several of these relate to forests, including target 15, which calls for restoration of 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020.
From there the international forest community moved on to the Cancun Conference of the Parties of the climate change convention in December 2010. That conference adopted a new global goal to slow, halt and reserve forest cover and carbon loss, as part of a decision on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation—known as REDD-plus.
The 9th session of the UN Forum on Forests is rounding out the picture with its emphasis this year on forests and people, on the importance of forest communities, their rights and their well-being.
This is the new political context for forests, the fresh starting point for the International Year of Forests.
Bringing these different strands together, Forests 2011 can do the same for forest issues, institutions and programmes as 2010 did for biodiversity.
2010 set the stage, drew up the plan; produced the new commitments.
The International Year of Forests in 2011 must be about action, about capitalizing on this new set of commitments, on finding practical opportunities in countries to push forward work on the ground, and on securing the necessary support for that work.
Part of the challenge will be to reach out to constituencies outside the forest sector. We feel that this will require two things:
Firstly, disseminating positive messages. There are a lot of ‘gloom and doom’ stories about forests. But we know that around the world there are people who are managing their forests sustainably, who are already delivering on the goal of halting and reversing the loss and degradation of forests. Let’s get their stories out.
Secondly, this will require innovative communications strategies. I will share with you some of the approaches we’re taking in IUCN:
IUCN will publish new analysis and statistics on such key issues as: the extent to which local people are dependent upon forests, especially the rural poor, and the relationship between forests and local and national markets.
We will be organizing high profile events with partners, including the June 2011 Ministerial Conference on Forest Landscape Restoration, to be hosted by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and IUCN.
We will promote Forests 2011 through a dedicated web portal, a possible Red List of Trees and extensive use of social networking platforms such as Facebook Groups, a dedicated IUCN YouTube Channel, and Twitter accounts. We are feeding Forests 2011 into communications on all our areas of work, including wetlands and protected areas.
IUCN will be disseminating messages this year on how the benefits from forests and trees can extend well beyond the forests themselves, through the application of such approaches as landscape restoration and agro-forestry.
And we are reaching out in a targeted way to new constituencies including faith communities as well as children and youth.
We are also working closely with film maker and conservationist John Liu, who is a senior research fellow with IUCN. John is the author of influential films on ecosystem restoration, including “Hope in a Changing Climate”. We are working with him to spread the message on forests to new audiences.
This is a turning point for the forest community. There is unprecedented recognition of the role of forests in tackling poverty, climate change and the biodiversity crisis.
We in IUCN are really looking forward to working this year with our partners in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests to build on the momentum being generated by Forests 2011 to improve the general outlook for forests worldwide and help countries to meet international commitments to halt and reverse global forest loss.