FAO's contribution to the Earth Summit 2002 FAO
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World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002

Forests and woodlands are essential to human life. They are the source of many of the goods and services used by humanity, they play an important role in moderating the world's enviornment and are the store of much of the genetic diversity which is essential for future plant and animal improvement. The survival of forests is important for sustainability of other key resources, such as water and soils, which are essential for survival and development. Forests have cultural and spiritual values in all societies.

Forests and forestry have been a part of FAO's mandate since the creation of the Organization in 1945. Today, the FAO Forestry Programme addresses one of the most important, complex and controversial issues of modern times - how to use trees, forests and related resources to improve people's economic, environmental, social and cultural conditions while ensuring that the resource is conserved to meet the needs of future generations.

The Task Manager Role of FAO

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) agreed on Agenda 21, a global action programme on sustainable development. In this framework, FAO's Forestry Department was assigned the role of Task Manager of Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, "Combating deforestation."

Chapter 11 covers four programme areas:

sustainaing the multiple roles and functions of all types of forests, forest lands and woodlands;

enhancing the protection, sustainable management and conservation of trees, forests and the greening of degraded areas, through forest rehabilitation, afforstation, reforestation and other rehabilitative measures;

promoting efficient utilization and assessment to recover the full valuation of the goods and services provided by forests, forest lands and woodlands; and

establishing and/or strengthening capacities for the palnning, assessment and systematic observations of forsts and related programmes, projects and activities including commerical trade and processes.

As Task Manager, FAO works closely with other international organizations and governments to help implement Chapter 11 and strengthen partnerships in the process. FAO also works closely with non-governmental organisations, coordinating with them in organising meetings and in developing communication and information sharing.

One of the primary responsibilities of Task Managers is reporting on implementation of the chapters of Agenda 21. This is generally carried out through task manager reports, which are working documents that subsequently become reports of the UN Secretary-General to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).


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