Ecosoc: Statement by the EU Presidency on the report of the UN Forum on Forests

Ecosoc - Substantive Session
Geneva, 3-28 July 2006
General Segment

Statement on behalf of the European Union
By Mr. Jarl-Håkan Rosengren, Minister Counsellor
Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its sixth session
(item 13 i)

Geneva, 24 July 2006
Check against delivery

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the member states of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia 0as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

The European Union welcomes the report of the 6th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests for the consideration of the Council and takes note of the corrigendum (E/2006/42/Corr.2-E/CN.18/2006/18/Corr.2).

The European Union adopted a pragmatic line in the intensive negotiations at the 6th Session of the UNFF in February with the objective of reaching common ground on the work at hand, notably on agreeing on global objectives on forests, on establishing a non legally -binding instrument on all types of forests as a way forward, on means of implementation, on enhanced cooperation and cross-sectoral policy and programme coordination, on the future working modalities and structure of the multi-year programme of work of the Forum, on monitoring, assessment and reporting, and on the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. In the spirit of compromise, a consensus emerged and the 6th Session of the UNFF was concluded with a satisfactory outcome.

While the European Union remains convinced that a legally binding instrument on all types of forests would be the most effective means to address forest issues at the international level and promote policies and practices for sustainable forest management, the EU considers that the outcome of the 6th session of the Forum is a good basis for the continuation of the UNFF in the coming years.

The European Union attaches great importance to the work of the Forum. For UNFF7 to have a good outcome a considerable amount of preparatory work will be needed, in particular concerning the non legally -binding instrument for adoption by Governments, as well as the multi-year programme of work of the Forum. In this regard, the EU looks forward to constructive cooperation with others at the meeting of the open-ended ad-hoc working group, which has been tasked with consideration of the features and content of the non legally -binding instrument, drawing on the compilation of submissions and comments made by members of the Forum. The EU considers it important that the working group is convened in good time, in order for it to be able to inform countries' positions in capitals, and we therefore hope that the date of the meeting, tentatively scheduled for December 2006, will be maintained.

Mr. Chairman,

it is the task of this ECOSOC Session to consider the report of the UNFF of its 6th Session and decide on the draft resolution in a manner that reinforces the intergovernmental forest policy process and enables the Forum to efficiently perform its role as a unique functional commission of the ECOSOC. The Report of the Forum on its 6th Session and the draft resolution contained in it are both acceptable to the European Union. However, during the informal consultations in New York one issue has been raised as to the proposed International Year of Forests. The Croatian delegation, as the original initiator of this proposal, has suggested an amendment to the draft decision so that the International Year of Forests would be held in 2011 instead of the originally proposed 2010. The year 2010 is already proclaimed as the International Year of Biological Diversity. We think that an overlap should be avoided. The EU therefore supports this proposed amendment.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.