The Forum on Forests, meeting in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, concluded its sixteenth session today with speakers calling for more effective use of its trust fund, which currently stands at $2.8 million, as the United Nations promotes its Strategic Programme for Forests and its six global forest goals.
According to a note by the Secretariat (document E/CN.18/2021/6), five Member States contributed a total of $1.17 million to the trust fund in 2020, inclusive of programme support costs. Expenditures totalled $837,725, with staffing and consultancy costs accounting for most of that amount.
In reporting those figures, the Secretariat emphasized that delivery of capacity development activities has been adversely affected by the pandemic, which resulted in the postponement of some Forum activities originally scheduled for 2020.
The representative of the Republic of Korea highlighted her country’s voluntary contributions to the trust fund, stressing the importance of ensuring that the Forum can conduct its activities effectively. Calling for more financial resources, she voiced the hope that Member States, international organizations and other stakeholders can gather in person for the Forum’s next session.
The representative of China also stressed the trust fund’s role in supporting the Organization’s global objectives for forests. Due to the pandemic’s effect on the work of the Forum, he noted, there is a large balance in the trust fund. The Secretariat must use national contributions effectively, he said, also adding that while his Government has reduced its expenditures for 2021 in view of the pandemic, it would nevertheless prioritize a contribution to the trust fund.
In other business, Kitty Sweebe (Suriname), Forum Chair, reminded delegates that the body’s programme of work (document E/CN.18/2021/L.3) and proposed dates and venue of its seventeenth session (document E/CN.18/2021/L.1) were placed for adoption under a silence procedure until 4 p.m. today.
She added that an oral decision to adopt the report for the sixteenth session (document E/CN.18/2021/L.4) and to entrust the Rapporteur with its finalization, in collaboration with the Secretariat, for submission to the Economic and Social Council at its 2021 session, has been placed for adoption under a silence procedure until 4 p.m. on 30 April.
Delivering closing remarks, the Chair thanked Member States, the Secretariat as well as other stakeholders from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, forest communities and indigenous peoples for their participation. Nature knows no borders, she said, calling for forests to be integrated into a resilient and sustainable COVID-19 recovery.
Highlighting the Global Forest Goals Report 2021, launched at the start of the session, she said that data gathered by the Forum will enable the international community to know exactly “what to do, how to do it and who must do it.”