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The Forum on Forests concluded its seventeenth session today, approving its omnibus resolution and a draft decision that its eighteenth session will be held at United Nations Headquarters from 8 to 12 May 2023, sending both texts to the Economic and Social Council for formal adoption.

The European Union, speaking in its observer capacity, celebrated the omnibus resolution as a “great achievement” for international cooperation.  Stressing that forests play a major role in mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as in providing social and environmental benefits, she said they also represent important cultural heritage for indigenous peoples.  “This resolution reflects well these stakes,” she said, noting nonetheless that the bloc would like to have seen stronger language in some provisions.  Condemning in the strongest terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, she highlighted the critical importance of protecting the environment during armed conflict.

The United States representative, in explanation of position on paragraph 14, underscored that trade language negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council has no relevance for his country’s trade policy or the agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO), an entity that has different roles, rules and membership than the United Nations.

Approval of the omnibus resolution (document E/CN.18/2022/L.4) and the decision (document E/CN.18/2022/L.2) capped a week of discussions on achieving the global forest goals and targets of the United Nations strategic plan for forests 2017-2030:  reversing forest cover loss, enhancing forest-based benefits, significantly increasing protected forest area, mobilizing new and additional financial resources, promoting governance frameworks and enhancing cooperation for sustainable forest management.  Throughout the session, delegates underscored the importance of providing guidance and inputs to the Council’s tenth high-level political forum on sustainable development in July.

Also today, the Forum approved its provisional agenda for its eighteenth session (document E/CN.18/2022/L.3) and the draft report of its seventeenth session (document E/CN.18/2022/L.1), introduced by Rapporteur Javad Momeni (Iran).

In closing remarks, Juliette Biao, Director of the Forum Secretariat, said she was amazed by the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of Member States and all stakeholders for their engagement in the discussions, especially those who joined virtually.  “We now have a clear road map and guidance on what we need to do in the next two years,” she said.  The Secretariat carefully listened to all views and concerns and is committed to working with all involved to implement the omnibus resolution.

Forum Chair Miriam MacIntosh (Suriname) similarly thanked delegates for their flexibility and constructive discussions, emphasizing:  “We look forward to further implementation of the omnibus resolution.”

Immediately following the meeting’s conclusion, the Forum opened its eighteenth session, electing by acclamation Zéphyrin Maniratanga (Burundi) as Chair of its eighteenth and nineteenth sessions, to be held in 2023 and 2024, respectively, as well as Javad Momeni (Iran) and Ismail Belen (Turkey) as Vice-Chairs.

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