Making and measuring progress towards sustainable forest management

24 May 2016, Ottawa, Canada – International experts meeting to safeguard the future of the world’s forests have drawn up a six-point plan to strengthen collaboration on the use of criteria and indicators to guide and track progress towards the goal of sustainable forest management. 

Some 40 forestry experts from 16 countries came together in Ottawa, Canada, this month for a three-day meeting, organized by Natural Resources Canada in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), as part of a drive to mobilize the full potential of criteria and indicators (C&I) in managing forests sustainably. 

C&I have a major role in promoting the implementation of recent global agreements affecting forests, by focusing on measurable results and on follow-up monitoring and reporting. In particular, there is scope for using C&I to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement, and the Global Objectives on Forests of the UN Forest Instrument.

Experts at the Ottawa workshop called for the forest community to agree on a set of forest-related indicators that would demonstrate key contributions of forests to a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

They also highlighted the need to address the lack of data available on the contribution of forests to key areas covered by the SDGs and other global forest-related policy objectives, such as poverty eradication, livelihoods, health and energy.

“The Sustainable Development Goal process is a strong call for regional and global processes to mobilize the full potential of C&I, demonstrating the contributions of forests” said Ewald Rametsteiner, Programme Coordinator of global delivery on FAO’s Strategic Programme to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable.

Among the six priority areas for concrete action, experts at the Ottawa meeting agreed to jointly work towards a core set of global forest indicators. These indicators can be used by countries, agencies and organizations that generate and handle forest data to track changes in key sustainability dimensions, including for global forest reporting. 

Experts also called for better integration of C&I into policy and planning, stressing that C&I are not only a reporting tool to monitor and demonstrate results, but should be used to help guide the development of policies and strategies.

They agreed on four other priority areas: reporting on global commitments, sharing knowledge and building capacity, analysing commonalities and differences among C&I processes, and analysing the evolution of sustainable forest management indicator processes and lessons learned.

“The agreements reached here will help to reduce duplication among initiatives, strengthen collaboration among experts and their organizations, and enhance evidence-based decision making,” Rametsteiner said. “They will also lighten the burden of reporting on countries and increase the consistency of authoritative information about forests.”

last updated:  Wednesday, May 25, 2016