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IYF - Closing Celebration

13 December 2011

Policy Talk and International Year of Forests closing ceremony

Palais des Nations, Geneva

Policy Talk - Room IX - starting at 2:30pm

followed by a

Closing ceremony - Hall XIV from 4.30pm onwards

Background

The UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section with the United States of America and the Republic of Poland organized a Policy Talk on "Forest 2030: The future of forests in Europe and North America", based on the recently published UNECE/FAO Outlook Studies; followed by a closing ceremony and a reception. On that occasion, a "United Nations Tree" was brought inside the Palais des Nations and decorated by contributions from Geneva-based Missions; decorations representing the values of forest (economic, environmental and social) in respective countries.

Press coverage is available here

http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=27827

Poster

Programme

The Policy Talk will address but is not limited to the following issues:

Are European and North American forests growing? What are the challenges they encounter? How can policy makers address those challenges? What if policy makers privileged biodiversity conservation in European and North American forests? What if they favor carbon sequestration in forests over other functions? And what are the implications of reaching the renewable energy targets for wood and forests in Europe and North America?

A distinguished group of experts from governments, international organizations, NGOs and industry debated these issues in a panel on "Forests 2030: The future of forests in Europe and North America" chaired by Michael Zammit Cutajar, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and under the patronage of H.E. Mr. Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Poland. Discussions focused on the key findings of three major reports:  the State of Europe's Forests 2011 report; the European Forest Sector Outlook Study (2010-2030); and the North American Forest Sector Outlook Study (2006-2030).

Programme

Presentations

Welcome and opening

H.E. Mr. Janusz Zaleski

Undersecretary of State, and Chief Nature Conservator, Ministry of the Environment, Republic of Poland

Chair

Michael Zammit Cutajar

Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Introduction

Forests in Europe and North America

Roman Michalak

ECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section

PDF

The future of European forests

Paola Deda, David Ellul

ECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section

PDF

The future of forests in North America

Jeff Prestemon

US Forest Service

PDF

Panel Discussion: Priorities, challenges and possible future scenarios for the forests in Europe and North America

Richard Aishton

ENPI FLEG Programme Coordinator, International Union for Conservation of Nature 

Holger Gassner

Head of Markets and Political Affairs, RWE Innogy GmbH

Heikki Granholm

Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Finland)

James Griffiths

Managing Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (SBSCD)

Marceil Yeater

Chief of the Legal Affairs and Trade Policy Unit, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Speakers Bios

PDF

Summary

Balance through innovation driven by policy

Celebrations opened with a Policy Talk on "the future of forests in Europe and North America", where the key findings of the three major reports were presented, these being the State of Europe's Forests 2011 report, the European Forest Sector Outlook Study (2010-2030) and the North American Forest Sector Outlook Study (2006-2030).

What will European and North American forests look like in 2030? Will they store carbon, preserve biodiversity or help countries meet renewable energy commitments? Are trade-offs unavoidable?

A distinguished list of experts from governments, international organizations, NGOs and industry proceeded to debate these issues in a panel chaired by Michael Zammit Cutajar, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and under the patronage of H.E. Mr. Janusz Zaleski Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Poland.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Zaleski welcomed the depth of data on forests in the region.

Heikki Granholm, Director at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Finland) highlighted the role of the forests not only for meeting national mitigation targets but also in the overall economy. Balance between the different functions of the forests was achievable through innovation and competitiveness which could thrust the current emergence of a new generation of wood-based products.

Holger Gassner, Head of Markets and Political Affairs, RWE Innogy GmbH stated that the private sector is driven by policy decisions such as the EU renewable energy targets. The energy industry is aware of the potential conflicts with other consumer of wood raw material and expects imports to bridge the supply gap. He called for politicians to ensure a level playing field across the region and among regions as a prerequisite for guaranteeing the sustainability of bioenergy, allowing for the deployment of efficient, large-scale biomass-based installations.

Marceil Yeater, Chief of the Legal Affairs and Trade Policy Unit, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora touched upon the importance of policy decisions and pointed out the fact that currently across the UNECE region, only one native tree species, the Korean pine, was protected against illegal timber trade. This perhaps underscored the role of the region a net importer of timber.

James Griffiths, Managing Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development welcomed the scenario approach as an effective tool for international organizations to communicate with the private sector. He highlighted that compared to other regions, European and North American policy makers have good data on which to base their decisions and stressed the need to consider the co-benefits of using more wood in a wiser way by incentivizing forest owners and managers to change their ways and meet society's demands.

Richard Aishton, ENPI FLEG Program Coordinator, International Union for Conservation of Nature cautioned against excessive optimism based on the data emerging from international reporting and called for monitoring and verification of the situation on the ground. To illustrate his point he highlighted the decreasing connectivity between protected areas, which might lead to the creation of "biodiversity islands", and the poor accessibility to remote forest areas which limits their potential to meet growing demands for wood.

The moderator Michael Zammit Cutajar concluded that tension between the policy options was too evident for policy makers to keep away from making choices. Different choices will have to be made according to national or regional economic, social and environmental contexts. However, a strong optimism was emerging that innovation, driven by policy and economic incentives, could balance these demands. When considering options, policy makers should look at costs and benefits beyond the forest sector alone and should remain aware of the potential policy conflicts. In the same way that climate change has not been left exclusively to climatologists, it is clear that forest policy is too important to be left to foresters alone.


Messages delivered by:

H.E. Mr. Janusz Zaleski

Undersecretary of State, and Chief Nature Conservator, Ministry of the Environment, Republic of Poland

H.E. Ms. Betty E. King

Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Nations in Geneva

Mr. Andrey Vasilyev

Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Mr. Abdessalam Ould Ahmed

Director, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Liaison Office in Geneva

Ms. Mita Sen

Programme Officer, United Nations Forum on Forests

 

 

The United Nations Tree

 

Participants were then invited to join a closing ceremony got the International Year of Forests organized by the Republic of Poland and the United States of America in cooperation with the ECE-FAO Forestry and Timber Section.  Ambassador Betty E. King, Permanent Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, recalled that the International Year of Forests had, “delivered compelling examples from across the globe of national and international efforts to sustain and preserve forests.” “The International Year of Forests has served to successfully engage the global community on a topic that is vitally important to the sustainability of our planet.” she added.  

In closing, delegations of Geneva-based Missions to the United Nations were invited to decorate the ‘United Nations tree’ - a symbol of multilateralism – by contributing decorations related to the cultural, economic, environmental and social importance of forests in their respective countries. As the tree was lit with LED lights, the Forestry and Timber Section passed the ‘baton’ of the International Year of Forests on to the UNECE Division for Sustainable Energy, who will be working intensively in 2012 to mark the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All and support the cause of energy accessibility and sustainability in the ECE region.

Photographs

Meeting Chair Mr. Michael Zammit Cutajar

H.E. Mr. Janusz Zaleski

Mr. Abdessalam Ould Ahmed

Mr. Andrey Vasilyev

H.E. Ms. Betty E. King

Ms. Mita Sen

Ms. Paola Deda

Video coverage of the closing ceremony


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013