Delegates Focus on Clearer Reporting Methods, Indicators to Effectively Measure Health of Forests, as Forum Continues Session

Fine-tuning assessment tools and examining a set of global indicators to effectively measure the health of the world’s woodlands, delegates today shared suggestions on ways to streamline reporting with a view to making concrete progress on the gr…

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Decrying Violence against Indigenous Rights Defenders, Speakers Urge Protection of Native Lands from Development Aggression, as Permanent Forum Continues

Government decisions to build roads, power plants and dams in the name of prosperity threatened the lives of indigenous peoples around the world, speakers in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stressed today, amid calls to protect native lands an…

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Agriculture ministers urged to address African rural youth unemployment

Photo: ©FAO/Tamiru Legesse

An FAO-supported horticulture project in Ethiopia is helping create job opportunities for young people.

2 July 2017, Rome – Youth employment should be at the centre of any strategy to face economic and demographic challenges in Africa, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva told a joint African Union-European Union meeting, hosted at FAO headquarters in Rome. 

In 2014 alone, about 11 million young Africans entered the labour market.  But many see few opportunities in the agriculture sector and are constrained by a lack of skills, low wages, and limited access to land and financial services. Combined, this makes them more prone to migrate from rural areas.

“Fostering sustainable agriculture and rural development is essential to absorb these millions of youth looking for a job,” Graziano da Silva said. “A sustainable world can only be achieved with the full engagement of young people. They must feel integrated and believe that a more peaceful and prosperous world is possible.”

The one-day meeting was co-hosted by the African Union Commission, the European Commission and the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council and was attended by Ministers of Agriculture of the African Union and the European Union.

The aim was to build a common vision on how to generate sustainable, inclusive jobs for African youth in the rural sector.

Five step solution

The Director-General outlined five steps to engage youth in agriculture and rural development. Firstly, enhance youth participation and leadership in producer organizations and other rural institutions to empower them to engage in policy dialogue.

Secondly, stimulate private sector investments to create a modern and dynamic agricultural sector and value chains, and to build infrastructure needed for agricultural investments. Thirdly, provide rural areas with better services such as electricity, education and health.

The fourth step is to strengthen the physical, economic, social and political links between small urban centres and their surrounding rural areas. Finally, invest more in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which has the potential to improve efficiency in some farm work and facilitate access to markets, information and business opportunities.

FAO’s work to support youth

FAO is supporting the implementation of many programmes that target youth in rural areas. Uganda, for example, has adopted FAO’s Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools methodology, funded by Norway, Sweden and Belgium. This simple but efficient program teaches vulnerable children and young people about farming and management skills.

In Nigeria, FAO is supporting the design of the National Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme; and FAO and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have joined forces to increase jobs and business opportunities for young people in rural areas of Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger through a $4 million grant made available by the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund.

The conference outcomes will be presented at the Africa-EU Summit in November and will guide future work of both the European Commission and the African Union Commission.

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Tree-Based Ecosystems Could Be Vital to Ending Hunger, Promoting Food Security, Improving Nutrition, Speakers Tell Forum on Forests

Tree-based ecosystems could play a vital role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 — on ending hunger, realizing food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture — participants said today, as the United Nations Forum on Forests continued its twelfth session.

Highlighting the ability of forests to diversify human diets, create livelihood safety nets and provide respite to overcultivated farmland, panelists participating in the morning’s interactive discussion called for a paradigm shift towards “climate-smart” landscapes and “nutrient-sensitive” value chains, along with policies that actively supported them.

Keynote speaker Bhaskar Vira, Founding Director of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, pointed out that, although 216 million fewer people around the world were malnourished today than in 1990, nutrient deficiencies persisted amid rising obesity.  Meanwhile, some 800 million people remained undernourished, with natural and human-induced disasters and political instability increasingly affecting food security in many countries.

Against that backdrop, forests and other tree-based systems had an important role to play, he said.  They contributed wood fuel for cooking, increased people’s food sovereignty and their food-related decision-making and helped to balance diets.  They could also contribute ecosystem services and provide tree products for income generation.

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said an estimated 3.3 million hectares of forest land were lost annually due largely to its conversion to agricultural land.  “We have a promise, and a bold objective, to leave no one behind,” she stated, stressing that such changes often encroached on the rights of vulnerable groups.  New, integrated policy instruments were needed, including measures to regulate land-use change and prevent conflicts with existing land tenure rights, she said.

John Parrotta of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations described a shift away from traditional agricultural policies that allowed land to lie fallow and regenerate, noting that the increasing intensity of cultivation was reducing soil fertility and productivity.  In that context, he advocated for hybrid agroforestry systems that maximized synergies between trees and crops, outlining their myriad advantages over permanent (crop) agriculture alone.

Pointing out that 2 billion people — nearly a third of the world’s population — remained micronutrient deficient, Bronwen Powell, Assistant Professor at Penn State University, said Sustainable Development Goal 2 was about more than just hunger.  It also sought to broaden discussions about nutrition and food systems, she said, calling for greater attention to dietary quality and diversity and underscoring the role of forests — as providers of fruits and vegetables — in that regard.

With the floor open for comments and questions, speakers from around the world described innovative national strategies crafted to ensure sustainable forest management and responsible exploitation of forest-related food products.  Some considered the discussion’s implications for the future of particular industries and sectors, while others noted the close links between the role of forests in maintaining food security and their ability to reduce poverty and empower women.

During the afternoon plenary session, participants discussed the Forum’s monitoring, assessment and reporting structure, progress made in developing a set of global forest indicators, and the cycle and format for voluntary national reporting on implementation of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests (2017-2030).

Presenting a related Secretary-General’s report (document E/CN.18/2017/3), Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the Secretariat of the Forum on Forests, said the reporting cycle and format must consider both the five-year forest review cycle, and the four-year Sustainable Development Goal review cycle.  The reporting format had been developed based on three consultations, including an initiative on a global set of forest indicators.

Tomasz Juszack (Czech Republic), representative from the Forum on Forest Secretariat, presented the format contained in annex I of the Secretary-General’s report, which had been structured around the six Global Forest Goals.  Narrative in nature and action-oriented, each of the Goals had seven standard questions, with one linked to voluntary national contributions that allowed States to provide information on progress made.

Vicente de Azevedo Araujo Filho (Brazil) provided an overview of the outcomes of the Brasilia Expert Meeting held in February, in which issues related to the sustainable management of forests had been discussed along with the development of global reporting indicators and potential uses of information collected during the reporting process.  Among other things, participants had agreed they should focus on reducing reporting burdens, while relying on data that were globally available.

Eva Muller, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization Forestry Policy and Resources Division, then gave an overview of various organizational aspects of the Forum’s organization-led initiative.  Among other things, she noted that the Collaborative Partnership on Forests had agreed to launch a new joint initiative on streamlining, with the results to be summarized into a consolidated proposal and presented at a global meeting in Finland from 12 to 16 June.

The Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 4 May, to continue its work.


A panel discussion was held on the theme “contributions of forests to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2:  forests and food security”.  Moderated by Paola Deda, Chief of the Joint Forestry and Timber Section of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it featured three panelists:  Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, FAO; John Parrotta, Vice-President, Task Forces, Special Programmes, Projects and International Union of Forest Research Organizations-led Initiatives, International Union of Forest Research Organizations; and Bronwen Powell, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Penn State University (United States).  Bhaskar Vira, Founding Director of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute (United Kingdom) and a Reader in Political Economy of Environment and Development at the University’s Department of Geography, delivered a keynote address.

Keynote Address

Mr. VIRA noted that 216 million fewer people around the world were malnourished today than in 1990.  Nevertheless, some 800 million people remained undernourished.  Malnutrition and obesity were simultaneously affecting every country in the world and natural and human-induced disasters and political instability were increasingly affecting food security.  Pointing to global parallels between the state of forests and the state of food security, he recalled that the International Union of Forest Research Organizations had convened an Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security and had launched its report at the last United Nations Forum on Forests in 2015.  It would bring the topic to the global stage again later this year.

Highlighting some of the Expert Panel’s findings, he said there had been impressive increases in agricultural productivity, noting “our ability to feed the world has definitely become a lot better”.  However, current agricultural strategies did not necessarily address all of the world’s hunger- and nutrition-related issues, and were often swept up into markets, leading to an increasingly unbalanced diet.  Against that backdrop, forests and other tree-based systems could play an important supplementary and complementary role, contributing wood fuel for cooking, increasing people’s food sovereignty and their food-related decision-making over the course of annual seasons and helping to balance diets.  In addition, they could provide livelihood safety nets and such indirect contributions as ecosystem services and tree products for income generation.

In studying those relationships, the Expert Panel had found that every sixth person worldwide depended on forests, particularly in the context of their food security, he continued.  However, while hunger rates were declining, there had been little change in the rates of human micronutrient deficiencies, including iron, vitamin A, iodine and zinc.  “You might be calorically food secure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a balanced diet,” he said, adding that about half of all fruit consumed by people originated from cultured trees that still had “wild” or “semi-wild” stands in native forests, and that the hunting of bush meat provided an important source of protein.

Forest-based food systems were particularly critical to human food security during agricultural “hunger seasons”, he underscored.  There was also growing empirical evidence that access to forest-based food systems were associated with increased fruit and vegetable consumption and increased dietary diversity, often leading to better health outputs.  As well, programmes promoting the consumption of insects contributed to the human diet.  Thus, forest-based food systems provided people with a more diversified livelihood portfolio, rather than just relying on one agricultural product.  He called for a shift towards more resilient, “climate-smart” landscapes, “nutrient-sensitive” value chains which went beyond a production-centric approach to food security, along with policies that supported that more integrated and diversified approach.

Ms. SEMEDO, stressing that food and agriculture lay at the very heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said FAO was particularly focused on realizing Sustainable Development Goal 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.  Around the world, deforestation continued, with an estimated 3.3 million hectares lost every year.  Approximately 80 per cent of that loss was due to the conversion of forests to agriculture and took place in tropical and low-income countries.  The FAO’s flagship State of the World’s Forests had addressed such land use challenges and found that few countries had formal policies governing those change.  “Deforestation and expansion is encroachment,” she said, underlining the importance of customary law, based on traditional rights, for vulnerable groups.  However, such laws and customs were regularly ignored.

“We have a promise, and a bold objective, to leave no one behind,” she stated, stressing that achieving the 2030 Agenda was a collective responsibility for all people.  Calling for a “paradigm shift” in policies, programmes and investments, she emphasized that the agricultural sector could no longer develop its policies in isolation.  Against that backdrop, FAO had developed a common vision and an integrated approach to sustainability across agriculture, forestry and fisheries, focusing on improving efficiency in the use of resources; enhanced resilience of people, communities and ecosystems; and responsible and effective governance mechanisms.  Policy instruments could include measures to regulate land-use change and prevent conflicts with existing land tenure rights.  In that regard, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of Food Security, agreed by countries in 2012, could serve as an excellent basis for action.

Mr. PARROTTA, recalling that forests and agricultural lands had historically been managed synergistically, emphasized that forest and tree-based systems were part of a broader economic, political, cultural and ecological landscape.  Paleo-botanical research showed that humans had been managing and manipulating forests for thousands of years, often utilizing communal practices that incorporated a fallow phase allowing lands to regenerate.  While such “shifting cultivation” practices had been common around the world until the nineteenth century, they were now limited to tropical and subtropical regions.  Such dynamics had changed, with a greater intensity of cultivation and resulting adverse consequences.  Shortened cropping cycles and similar changes — often sparked by political and demographic shifts — had often led to soil fertility and productivity declines.

The rise of agroforestry systems were based largely on traditional and indigenous knowledge and involved the careful selection of trees and crops to maximize their synergies and efficiency, he continued.  Such practices helped prevent or reverse land degradation and were particularly useful in semi-arid regions as Africa’s Sahel.  Indeed, about 43 per cent of the world’s agricultural lands had at least a 10 per cent tree cover.  The diversity of forest species cultivated by farmers was “truly impressive” and included over 170 species of fruit and nuts alone.  It also represented an important source of income for farmers, he added, pointing out that such diverse agroforestry cultivation offered advantages over permanent (crop) agriculture alone, given the adaptability of forests to a broader range of environmental and socioeconomic conditions.

Ms. POWELL said that, while the cross-disciplinary efforts being discussed were indeed crucial, such work was often difficult as it required broad expertise in multiple fields and sectors.  As a nutritionist, she expressed concern that about 2 billion people — nearly a third of the world’s population — remained micronutrient deficient.  There were also increasing rates of challenges due to “overnutrition”, such as obesity.  Pointing out that individuals suffering from overnutrition were actually more likely to be micronutrient deficient, she said obesity was no longer just an issue for wealthy people.  Indeed, it was increasingly associated with poverty and lower-income status.  Furthermore, malnourishment in general was transmitted intergenerationally.  With that in mind, Sustainable Development Goal 2 was about more than just hunger. It also sought to broaden discussions about nutrition and food systems.

Calling for greater attention to dietary quality and diversity, she said most food security indicators still did not adequately address those issues.  Indeed, while the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed the low consumption of fruits and vegetables as one of the top 10 risks of mortality globally, people in most societies still did not eat enough of those foods.  In light of the importance of fruits and vegetables, forests could play a critical role.  “We need to get over our obsession with calories,” she stressed.  Spotlighting the role of wild foods in human diet quality, she added that the majority of global vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium and folic acid were supplied by animal and insect-pollinated crops.  That underscored the importance of ecosystem services, including those related to forests.

During the ensuing discussion, speakers outlined innovative national strategies on the sustainable management of forests and responsible exploitation of forest-related food products, as well as the implications of those policies.  Panelists also fielded questions and addressed a variety of concerns.

The representative of Gabon described a national programme that allocated funds from the country’s forestry-related activities to local communities.  The Government had also embarked on a process to draft a new code for water and forests, placing those resources firmly at the centre of its sustainable development plans.  

Similarly, the representative of Colombia drew attention to her country’s National Adaptation Fund — aimed at supporting the food security of its Afro-indigenous communities — while the representative of Thailand said his country’s food industry was commonly known as the “kitchen of the world” and made positive use of both agricultural and forest-based food systems.

A number of speakers considered the implications of today’s discussions for the future of various industries and sectors, drawing attention to their countries’ native forest products and outlining national platforms aimed at their sustainable management and exploitation.  In that vein, the representative of the United States welcomed the panelists’ focus on synergies, stressing that “the aim is not competition, but integrated and sustainable land use” between various sectors. 

The representative of the Russian Federation pointed out that his country accounted for a large percentage of the world’s boreal forests and contained a wide range of edible and medicinal food and plants.  There needed to be a greater market access for those products.  Such increased production could help achieve a number of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, including those relating to economic growth and livelihood generation.

The representative of Germany, voicing support for the development of corporate social responsibility guidelines related to forests, agriculture and nutrition, asked the panelists to forecast the future of such policies and discuss the role of the private sector more broadly.

EVA MULLER, Director of Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, said that FAO was looking forward to the Forum’s guidance in its future work.  She asked Germany’s delegate to provide more detail on what he wanted the focus of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests to be on in that regard.

Speakers also expressed a variety of opinions about human nutrition, with the representative of Chile pointing out that messages were widely mixed and often confusing.  Noting that many misconceptions existed about the consumption of meat, eggs and refined sugar, in particular, she asked the panelists for their opinions about the “market madness” on what to eat and what not to eat.

Responding, Mr. VIRA agreed that nutritional recommendations were often complex as consumers tried to balance health, price point, sustainability and other factors.  While he did not have a concrete answer, he urged more transparency in food supply chains and more attention to the nutritional knowledge held by women and indigenous communities.

Ms. POWELL noted that nutritional knowledge was rapidly evolving.  Consumers could focus their efforts on eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.  She also underscored the need to develop policies that would lower the market price of such products.

Speakers also pointed to close links between today’s discussion on forests in food security and yesterday’s discussions on forests in the context of poverty eradication and the empowerment of women. 

The representative of the farmers major group stressed that too many girls and women still missed out on education — as well as opportunities to work and make their own decisions — because they remained unable to own land, buy cattle or access education or financing.  It was estimated that if women enjoyed such access, developing countries could greatly increase their harvests and reduce global hunger by about 15 per cent, she said.

The representative of the European Union called on the Forum to highlight the importance of food security in its input to the Economic and Social Council’s High-level Political Forum on sustainable development.  Dialogues on forestry, agriculture and related areas and their inclusion of a wider variety of stakeholders needed to be improved.  The 2030 Agenda offered a unique opportunity to balance the social, economic and cultural dimensions of sustainable development, which had major implications for agricultural policy and the sustainable management of forests.

Also speaking were representatives of South Africa, Indonesia, Nigeria, Canada, Mexico, Cameroon, New Zealand and Nepal.

Introduction of Report

MANOEL SOBRAL FILHO, Director of the Secretariat of the Forum on Forests, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on monitoring, assessment and reporting on progress towards implementing the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (document E/CN.18/2017/3).  He recalled that resolution E/2016/33 had requested the Secretariat to propose a reporting cycle.  The United Nations Strategic Plan stated that the review of that plan should be based on internationally agreed indicators, and that the reporting cycle and format must consider both the five-year forest review cycle, and the four-year Sustainable Development Goal review cycle.

Another document contained a proposal for voluntary reporting, he continued.  Consistent with the quadrennial work programme, the format had been developed based on three consultations:  the organization-led initiative on a global set of forest indicators; an expert meeting on reporting, hosted by Brazil; and subsequent inputs received from States, major groups and others.  Resolution E/2015/33 had outlined that assessing the progress on United Nations forests instruments would take place during odd-year Forum sessions.  Therefore, the next role of reporting could be in 2019 at the fourteenth session, which would test the new format.  Countries would then be invited to report in 2021 at the sixteenth session.

TOMASZ JUSZACK (Czech Republic), representative from the Forum on Forest Secretariat, presented the format contained in annex I of the Secretary-General’s report, which had been structured around the six Global Forest Goals.  It was narrative in nature and action-oriented.  Each of the Goals had seven standard questions, with one linked to voluntary national contributions that allowed States to provide information on progress made.  The 2015 format was being used as the baseline for reporting, since the 2030 Agenda, the eleventh session and the Food and Agriculture Organization session all had taken place that year.  The terms and definitions used in the format were being compared to the FAO Forest Resources Assessment.  Other features, characteristic of that reporting when assessing and summarizing progress to achieving the Goals, would supplement information received from States with quantitative data, already available in other databases of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.  Annex II of the report contained a list of potential indicators and targets.  The Collaborative Partnership on Forest-led task force on reporting aimed to complete its work by 2019.

Reporting on Brasilia Expert Meeting Outcomes

VICENTE DE AZEVEDO ARAUJO FILHO (Brazil) gave an overview of the outcomes of the Brasilia expert meeting last February, in which participants had discussed issues related to the sustainable management of forests, and development of global reporting indicators and potential uses of information collected during the reporting process.  On voluntary national reporting, participants had agreed they should focus on reducing reporting burdens and should rely on data that was globally available.  Because the relevance of targets might vary from country to country, based on national experiences, the meeting had produced a draft reporting format.

On development of indicators, he said they should be based on available data, clearly related to Global Forest Goals and targets, and that the list should be streamlined to the extent possible.  As for sharing arrangements, participants had agreed that the Forum should decide its own reporting cycle, which should build on and add value to other forest reporting cycles, and should consider the role of forests in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal targets.  They agreed that national reports would also be useful for sharing best practices and lessons learned.

EVA MULLER, Director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Forestry Policy and Resources Division, speaking in her capacity as Co-chair of the organization-led initiative in support of the United Nations Forum on Forests, gave an overview of the initiative’s various organizational aspects, noting that its objectives were to propose a common and concise set of global indicators; provide inputs to the development of a proposal on the cycle and format for reporting for the Forum; and provide guidance to the process of developing Forest Resources Assessments 2020.  The outcome should help streamline global reporting on forests.

Outlining key outcomes, she said participants had agreed that the core set of indicators should cover sustainable forest management, progress towards the forest related Sustainable Development Goals, and be limited to 10 to 15 indicators.  Of the 21 indicators proposed, 9 had been approved, 11 required more work and 1 had been discarded.  Experts had agreed it was important to ensure wide-spread consultations on the indicator list, a process which should be completed by mid-2017.  Despite efforts to streamline reporting, participants had also agreed that the issue of insufficient capacity must be addressed by the international community.

She went on to say that the Collaborative Partnership on Forests had agreed to launch a new joint initiative on streamlining.  A task force had met in mid-March to review the initiative’s outcome and refine recommendations.  It had suggested creating 13 indicators and dropping 4 indicators.  An online consultation would soon be launched and she invited the Forum to participate.  The results would be summarized into a consolidated proposal to be presented at a global meeting to take place in Finland, from 12 to 16 June.  Those recommendations would then be taken to the appropriate governing bodies.  The usefulness of a core set of indicators hinged on the “will to use it”.

A discussion was then held on the proposed format and cycle for voluntary national reporting to the Forum

The representative of Ghana said his country had adopted a monitoring and assessment framework similar to that being proposed.

The representative of Austria said monitoring, assessment and reporting was crucial to the implementation of the Strategic Plan, which required a sound technical and procedural basis.  The Forum’s first responsibility was to arrive at a common understanding of “what to report on”.

The representative of Canada said monitoring and reporting of the Strategic Plan must be carefully considered, and the Forum must decide what it wanted to achieve.  While the outcomes of the Brasilia workshop were a good first step, the Forum must build on raw data from country submissions and globally available data, and then produce an analysis on key issues.  She suggested intersessional work to advance the discussion.

The representative of United States said it was her understanding that the Secretariat would take charge of pulling quantitative data from the Forest Resources Assessments for each target or indicator in order to supplement Member State reporting.  It was also critical to capture the true economic value of forests to sustainable management, including employment generated by construction and non-timber forests sectors.  The current dataset underestimated the true contribution of forests.

The representative of Japan, noting that the reporting format was largely narrative, added that States would be encouraged to supplement them with quantitative data, where available.  The draft format stated that countries would be asked to provide information not available to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.  On voluntary national contributions, he requested clarity around the procedure for communications related to those domestic reports.

The representative of Switzerland questioned whether the Forum should promote the core set of indicators for use in different processes.  Sustainable forest management was a “tricky” indicator because it involved various data.  However, it was the Forum’s core competency and he voiced support for advancing those efforts, including in intersessional work.  Turning to the combination of qualitative and quantitative data in reporting, he said it would be helpful if quantitative data were included in the format.  Such an approach should be tested in pilot countries or areas.

The representative Ukraine voiced doubts about including financial information, stressing, instead, the importance of information on legal and policy actions.  Furthermore, it was a mistake for the Global Forest Goals to mention North-South cooperation twice; they should include North-North cooperation.  She also raised questions around voluntary national contributions.

The representative of Colombia proposed the generation of country-disaggregated information, which must be comparable and standardized.  It was not clear whether the Secretariat would be responsible for compiling information from countries, how it would define criteria for States, or whether information sources would be recognized as official.

Mr. FILHO said there was no guidance from the Forum for the announcement related to national voluntary contributions.  Different views had been raised during informal discussions at the Brasilia expert meeting.  It would make sense that contributions would relate to the targets and goals outlined in the Strategic Plan.  The Secretariat had analysed about 10 announcements.

“They are all different,” he said, noting that some were more than 10 pages, others fewer than two.  Concerning whether there was an additional reporting requirement outside of the national voluntary contributions, he said that, in the quadrennial work programme, the Forum had decided that in its “technical discussion” years, it would focus on those Sustainable Development Goals which were on the agenda of the High-level Political Forum.

Mr. JUSZACK said it would make sense for the Secretariat to pull data from existing global databases.  “We do not want to ask Member States to repeat the same information,” he said.

Ms. MULLER, to a question by Switzerland’s delegate, said the core set of indicators would only reduce the reporting burden if States used it.

The representative of Chile said her country supported the format for country reporting.  Associating herself to Canada’s statement, she expressed support for the efforts outlined for 2019 and 2021, while cautioning against the duplication of information.  When announcing voluntary national contributions, it would be important to hold consultations on what information to include.

The representative of the European Union stressed the need to complete the work on global forest indicators as soon as possible, to further streamline and reduce the reporting burden, and make the best use of existing forest-related indicators and processes.  Before taking a decision on the cycle and format for reporting, the Forum must be clear on the purpose of reporting.

The representative of Malaysia said developing countries were burdened to report data to various forest fora, including the World Bank, the International Tropical Timber Organization and the FAO Forest Resources Assessments.  Hence, there were differences in the data provided.  She proposed such reporting be embedded in the Forest Resources Assessments.

The representative of Mexico, noting that he agreed with the format, asked what the information would be used for.  If countries were to dedicate considerable human resources to collecting such information, they must be ensured it would be used as effectively as possible.

The representative of Nigeria, speaking for the African Group, urged States to step up data collection.  There were some indicators that had not been subject to reporting.  The Forum should make it more user-friendly.  Furthermore, monitoring, assessment and reporting should also consider regional, subregional and other reporting initiatives and processes.  Stressing the need to identify gaps, he underscored other needs for clear reporting guidelines and more flexibility around statements describing national circumstances.  He also suggested that 2019 would be an appropriate year for making those statements.

The representative of Indonesia reiterated the call for streamlined and interlinked reports, with the help of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.  The format for voluntary national contributions must consider nationally determined contributions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The representative of New Zealand, voicing his appreciation for the Montreal Process, commended the work on the draft format, particularly because it remained largely narrative and that information submitted would be supplemented by other quantitative data.

The representative of Australia encouraged members to consider the broader international landscape, as forests, now more than ever, were being viewed from a wider perspective.  The Forum must consider how information would be provided and presented by Member States, and who the audiences would be for such products.  She also questioned if reporting would support that for the Sustainable Development Goals, urging that intersessional time be used to develop the format.

The representative of China said that, to reduce reporting burdens, the reporting cycle should consider other relevant cycles, especially for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Forest Resources Assessments.  He expressed support for the format proposed by the Secretariat, noting that forest data should be selected once, for all relevant purposes and processes.

The representative of Norway called for minimizing the reporting burden, information overlap, inconsistent data and new data collection unless absolutely necessary for assessing the implementation of the Strategic Plan.  He voiced support establishing pilot countries to report on their national experiences.

The representative of Brazil welcomed the proposed narrative reporting format, which would allow States to provide complementary information.  He also welcomed the development of global forest indicators, stressing that the Forum should deepen its discussions in that regard.  There should be a correlation between the indicators and the Global Forest Goal targets, and it was essential to use those indicators which had pre-existing sources or that could be measured through the provision of adequate support.

The representative of Germany urged developing a common understanding of sustainable forest management, stressing that the core set of indicators was among the best vehicles for such efforts.  Informal or intersessional time could be used for that purpose.

The speaker from the farmers major group expressed support for the proposed reporting format, emphasizing that the voluntary national contributions should be seen as way to raise political commitment to the Forum’s process.  The starting point for submissions in 2019 would allow time to arrive at the core set of indicators.

The speaker from the children and youth major group underscored the need for clear reporting, stressing the need to communicate outcomes to the public.

The speaker from the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe expressed her group’s commitment to enhance monitoring and reporting on European forests and outlined its involvement with global processes.  She expressed support for streamlining and harmonizing reporting, reducing the reporting burden and synchronizing data collection.

The representative of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, on behalf of 42 member States, spoke about the global assessment for bamboo and rattan, which would help decision-makers maximize use of those plants in climate change and other policies.

Mr. FILHO said he foresaw no problems in proceeding with the suggestion for pilot countries, and perhaps using doing intersessional time to answer questions raised.  The goals of the Strategic Plan were related to the Sustainable Development Goals.  Decisions must be made this session on what the Forum would contribute to the 2018 review of Sustainable Development Goal 15

Ms. MULLER reiterated that indicators would only be useful if they were used.

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