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Peter Dewees's blog

The Landscape for Forests after the Forum

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Also available in: Türkçe

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the opening of the 10th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, in Istanbul, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s impassioned challenge to the global community to get serious about stopping the loss of forests. Unusually, he did this without reference to the usual concerns about climate change or biodiversity loss, but instead quite simply said – we have a moral responsibility to stop this.

"The global threats which humanity faces eliminate the luxury of saying, ‘What do I care?’” Erdoğan said. “We are not only creatures of bodies, heads, and brains. We carry hearts, we carry souls, and we carry a conscience.”

So what did the UN Forum accomplish after days of discussions and negotiations?  Did the Forum rise to Erdoğan's challenge?

An Emotional Start to the 10th UN Forum on Forests

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Also available in: Türkçe

Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the UN Forum on Forests. Photo courtesy of IISD/Earth Negotiations BulletinUnited Nations events, usually crowded with diplomats and technocrats, aren’t normally those which raise a lot of emotion – though there have been exceptions. I remember in particular the admonition from a delegate of Papua New Guinea to the UNFCCC COP a couple of years ago that if the United States wasn’t going to lead on tackling climate change, then it should at least get out of the way. Or last year in Doha, when the delegate from the Philippines complained that "… as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising" from a recent typhoon in his country.

Yesterday, the 10th Session of the UN Forum on Forests opened with an especially heartfelt plea from Turkey’s prime minister that departed from the usual platitudes of global leaders when it comes to the environment.

Living Landscapes: Solutions for a Sustainable World

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Mduduzi Duncan Dlamini, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Kingdom of Swaziland, providing the closing keynote for Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day
Photo: Mduduzi Duncan Dlamini, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Kingdom of Swaziland, providing the closing keynote for Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day.

The final rounds of Forests Day and Agriculture Day wrapped up at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha this week under a new shared banner: Living Landscapes Days.

Both Days have become annual events on the sidelines of the UN climate change conferences, meant to bring together scientists and policy makers and, originally, to bring forests and farming onto the Conference of Parties (COP) agenda. Forests have largely achieved this objective with the the emergence of various agreements about REDD+.

Agriculture has slipped down the list of priority issues tackled by the COP, which has been struggling to figure out what to do about extending the Kyoto agreements and a range of other issues, but is certain to re-emerge. The agriculture discussions this week at Doha aimed to identify scalable solutions to specific mitigation and adaptation challenges which can benefit farmers; gaps where there are limited existing solutions or limited available knowledge; and potential trade-offs in implementing existing, known solutions.

This year, the two worked together to build on the themes of climate-smart agriculture, which became prominent in Durban in the last COP: farming which builds soil carbon, increasing food security, and enhancing resilience to climate shocks.