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Press Release 00/26


Rome, Italy - 28 April 2000 - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has offered to host the Secretariat of the proposed United Nations Forum on Forests at its headquarters in Rome, Italy, the Organization announced today. The offer was made by FAO's Deputy Director-General David Harcharik in an address to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 8) meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York. In his remarks, Mr. Harcharik welcomed renewed interest in national forest programs and called for "a clear and strong link" to be established between the new Forest Forum and FAO.

Mr. Harcharik said that: "Sustainable management of the world's forests will not be achieved only by organizing more meetings. It requires investment."

In offering to house the Secretariat of the proposed UN Forest Forum at FAO, Mr. Harcharik urged the new body to pay greater attention to implementing the proposals for action that have already been developed. "Implementation requires commitment. Sadly, we live in a time when the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, not shrinking, when the level of overseas development assistance is decreasing not increasing, and when the financial resources made available to international organizations is declining, not growing."

Mr. Harcharik called for the new Forest Forum to put greater emphasis on mobilizing the financial resources needed to implement the proposals for action already developed from all sources including governments, banks, foundations and the private sector.

There would be several advantages to having the Secretariat of the proposed Forest Forum at FAO, according to Mr. Harcharik, including better coordination between the Forum and FAO, which is the lead-implementing agency on forests in the UN system. The arrangement would also provide the Secretariat with physical proximity to and staff interchange with a critical mass of forestry expertise, an ongoing forestry program and a source of global information and data on forests, as well as with staff with technical competence in important related disciplines. FAO is also home to technical experts on water and soil resources, desertification, climate change, biological diversity, genetic resources, animal husbandry, rural development and gender and social issues.

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