Home > About FAO > Who we are > Director-General > Statements > detail
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
Check against delivery

18 November 2016


Side event on SDG 15


I would like to thank all of you for your participation in this UN System High Level Event on SDG 15, which FAO has the honour to co-host with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN-REDD Programme, and the World Bank.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes that we can no longer look at food, livelihoods and the management of natural resources separately.

In this context, promoting sustainable solutions for the “life on land” and achieving SDG 15 have a direct impact on SDGs 1 and 2 of ending extreme poverty and hunger.

And vice-versa. Poor rural communities of developing countries rely on land-use sectors for their livelihoods. They are the bulk of the 800 million people that still suffer from hunger.

Investing in these people is fundamental to promote the sustainable management of forests, reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss, among other aspects of SDG 15. 

This includes improving land tenure rights and security, as recommended by the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests.

Well managed land-use sectors are also fundamental for the health of the planet, particularly with respect to forests.

Deforestation and forest degradation account for about 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Article 5 of the Paris Agreement recognizes the central role of forests in keeping global warming below the ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius.

So investing in sustainable and climate-resilient land-use sectors can contribute to lower emissions, and also build the resilience of rural poor communities.

Countries are already making headway, especially through the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation mechanism, the REDD+, and also by tackling the nexus between agriculture and forestry in an integrated manner.

More than 140 countries have included land use and forestry in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

REDD+ is catalytic to delivering on their pledges.

And the UN-REDD Programme, a joint initiative by UNDP, FAO and UNEP, is supporting its implementation in 64 developing countries. This covers half of the world’s tropical forests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Countries have already made important commitments. Our focus now must be on implementation. Successful actions and initiatives are being showcased here in Marrakech.

At FAO, we have made progress on many fronts.

One year ago in Paris, FAO signed an agreement with Google to join forces to strengthen the role of cutting-edge technology for sustainable development.

We have jointly developed the tool called “Open Foris Collect Earth”, which facilitates collection and the sharing of geo-spatial data to assess land-use changes, including deforestation and desertification.

This new tool has great potential to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and to support countries in their land-use plans and natural resources management.

Preliminary global findings suggest interesting new information. For example: the area of forest and woodlands in Africa is about eight percent larger than previously reported, mainly due to improved detection in dryland areas.

I invite you all to access this Open Foris tool, which is free, user-friendly and can be downloaded from FAO’s website.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today at the Agriculture and Food Security Action Day, initiatives were announced to make agriculture more productive, sustainable and climate resilient. And help us solve the triple threat of hunger, poverty and climate change.

Two years from now, in 2018, parties will take stock of their efforts towards achieving the Paris Agreement goals. We have to quickly accelerate actions on a very large scale, at institutional level and on the ground. 

We, the UN System partners, are committed to supporting countries through joint actions, capacity building, South-South cooperation, innovation and new technologies.

I look forward to hearing your presentations and discussions today. Together, we can make a difference, and move forward to a sustainable world in the near future.

Thank you very much for your attention.