NEW YORK, May 6, Xinhua -- Chair of the 14th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Boris Greguska on Monday urged all countries and stakeholders to tackle the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation while striking a balance between economic growth, social progress and sustainability.

Speaking at the UNFF session, which is held from May 6 to 10, Greguska said that governance must be improved to integrate forest issues across sectors and implement coherent policies and programs.

On behalf of Undersecretary-General Liu Zhenmin, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs Maria-Francesca Spatolisano noted that 2019 marks the second anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations strategic plan for forests.

In April 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted the first ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030, which provides a global framework for actions at all levels to sustainably manage all types of forests and trees outside forests and halt deforestation and forest degradation.

At the heart of the strategic plan are six Global Forest Goals and 26 associated targets to be achieved by 2030, which are voluntary and universal.

Calling for stronger cooperation and political commitments, Spatolisano said that forests are among the most productive renewable natural resources, and they drive economic growth and represent a safety net for the rural and urban poor in developing countries.

Unfortunately, development policies that prioritize land use for agriculture and energy continued to result in deforestation, she said, recalling that expanding global forest area by 3 percent is a landmark goal of the strategic plan.

Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations Cheikh Niang, on behalf of the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77, also urged the international forest community to redouble efforts to implement the strategic plan as a tool for achieving poverty eradication, supporting rural livelihoods and protecting biodiversity and genetic resources for future generations.

Noting that greenhouse gas emissions from energy, transport and deforestation are among that phenomenon's main drivers, he said the latter alone accounts for more than 20 percent of the world's CO2 emissions.

"We should plant forests firmly in the solution space by encouraging local action that meets our global climate change and sustainable development goals," the Senegalese official said, calling for the participation of a wide range of investors, as well as efforts to restore forests around the world.

Tomasz Grysa, observer for the Holy See, said that the rapid destruction of forests is depleting their biodiversity so quickly that the full extent of the loss might never be known. He said that the loss of jungles means not only the loss of species, but also the loss of vital relationships that could end up altering entire ecosystems.

Many countries shared their experiences on sustainable forest management during the forum.

A Chinese participant said that China has worked out various policies to promote the implementation of the strategic plan. In 2018 alone, China created 7 million hectares of plantation. Further, the government is focusing on providing economic and social benefits and improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent people.

China is working to resolve the problems caused by multisectoral management by establishing a unitary management mechanism, according to the participant.

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