Forest finance - Monday 31 January

This morning dawned bright and sunny on the start of the second week of the Ninth United Nations Forest Forum, says IUCN consultant Lucy Emerton. Over the course of the day, a round of consultations and debates have brought the delegates one step closer to finalising the various resolutions and decisions that will hopefully come out of the session. As of the middle of the afternoon, the skies however remain for the most part clear – with some positive indications of progress on the elements that IUCN has been championing.


Lucy Emerton Photo: IUCN

One of the key messages that IUCN has been trying to get across is the importance of (and the broad economic gains from) investing in locally-controlled forest management. The central, and yet somewhat thorny, topic of forest finance was a recurrent theme in the deliberations of the Working Groups, both today and last Friday. As well as continuing the longstanding (and some might say rather torturous) debate on the architecture of a possible voluntary global forest fund, there was much talk about the need to mobilise direct funding for sustainable forest management.

Friday evening’s draft of the Ministerial Declaration – which has been under further discussion and review today – stresses the need for improved funding from all sources, and welcomes the various new and emerging forest-related financing initiatives that are starting to appear. It also recognises that one quarter of all forests are managed by communities, and mentions the need to promote “a people-centred approach to reducing forest loss and degradation and improving the livelihoods of people, including forest dependent communities, through sustainable forest management”.

An important question is whether this goes far enough: will it actually translate into increased funding, real economic gains and a more enabling financial environment for local forest managers and local forest management? Further emphasis is certainly required to ensure not just that the overall amount of funding flowing to sustainable forest management is increased at a global level, but that also that it reaches the communities who both depend and impact on the status of the world’s forests.

On a positive note, it now looks as if we will see resolutions emerging on the sharing of revenues and other forest benefits with communities, and on funding for people-focused actions. The day after tomorrow, a High-Level Round Table on financing for forest dependent communities will be held, in which IUCN’s Director General will participate. As the day closes, we’re being warned of another snowstorm in New York tomorrow evening. We can only hope that it will not impede the discussions that are still to take place on this important topic.

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