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Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals: the essential role of Sustainable Forest Management

Published: 17 June 2014

Experts met in Geneva on June 16 for the Second Workshop on Forests and Sustainable Development Goals to discuss whether and how the essential role played by forests in sustainable development is currently reflected in the SDGs.

In the day-long workshop participants agreed upon the essential role of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in sustainable development, and thus strongly supported a target focusing on SFM.

They were also of the opinion that it is important to agree to forest specific indicators under those targets that contain a forest component. Taking into account the crucial role that forests play in sustainable development, green economy and poverty eradication, as well as their cross-sectoral relevance, participants highlighted targets relating to biodiversity and ecosystem management, production and consumption patterns, energy, food security, water and sanitation, climate, poverty eradication, gender, health, cities and urban development.

Participants also underscored that over the years the forest sector produced detailed datasets and indicators on forests and sustainable forest management and agreed that this information should be properly utilized when developing target-specific forest related indicators.

The key impact that sustainable forest management has on sustainable development cannot be overlooked in the SDGs process. Managing forests well will provide goods and services that are essential for our lives. Carbon sequestration, fundamental to climate change mitigation, is directly linked to forests, their cycle and growth (see the Keeling Curve here); similarly, the presence of mangrove forests in coastal areas has the positive effect of contrasting coastal erosion, protecting marine ecosystems and reducing the risks of climate related disasters.

Forests are also key to sustainable development as they are a fundamental renewable resource providing wood, wood and non-wood products and energy. Technology has allowed the creation of new materials and composites out of wood products (particularly pulp and fibres) at market prices and with a more sustainable production cycle. This has resulted in an expansion of the bio-based economy: from building to heating, to fibres and medicines. Managing forests sustainably also improves their presence in urban areas and cities, which has direct and indirect positive effects on human mental and physical health, and provides spaces for public recreation, and for people’s social, cultural and spiritual needs.   

Forests are at the centre of our planet’s future: without a strong sustainable forest management element reflected in the SDGs, sustainable development would be emptied of one of its core constituents.

The results of the Second Workshop on Forests and Sustainable Development Goals will be forwarded to the 36th session of the UNECE-FAO Working Party on Forests Statistics, Economics and Management, which will be taking place from 17-18 June 2014 in Geneva, for its consideration and action.

To know more about the Forests and Sustainable Development Goals: a regional view – Part II, please follow this link: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=35313.

For an overview of the first workshop on Forests and Sustainable Development Goals: a regional view, please follow this link: http://www.unece.org/sdg-workshop.html

To have more information on the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, please follow this link: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/owg.html

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