Collaborative Partnership on Forests urges to turn the historic challenge of COVID-19 into an opportunity for forestry and sustainability

©CIFOR/Kate Evans12 October 2020, Rome – Forests and tree landscapes should be at the heart of building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic for a more resilient and sustainable future, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) said today.

In a joint statement released at the margins of FAO’s Committee on Forestry, CPF members called for integrating the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of all types of forests and trees outside forests into recovery measures in response to the causes and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to achieve sustainability.

“[We urge everyone] to turn the COVID-19 pandemic, a historic challenge, into an opportunity by shifting to greener and more inclusive economies and societies that will ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet,” CPF members said.

They also emphasized the importance of forests as safety nets for the livelihoods of the most vulnerable members of society, providing food, subsistence and income in times of scarcity.

The CPF brings together 15 international organizations, institutions and secretariats with substantial programmes on forests in a voluntary partnership chaired by FAO and supported by the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat.

Avoiding future pandemics

In the statement, CPF members underlined that COVID-19 is a result of the breakdown in the relationship between human and natural systems.

They highlighted the need for healthy forests to provide ecosystem services and decrease the risk of virus spillover from wildlife to humans.

Members also warned that the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to weaken environmental regulations in the process of attempting to foster economic growth.

“Recovery strategies must recognize that ecosystem integrity plays a key role in keeping societies healthy and on a path towards sustainability.,” CPF members said.

Window of opportunity

The forest sector should also take advantage of a ‘historic opportunity’ presented by growing awareness of the need for, and benefits of, living in harmony with nature, according to the statement.

The private sector is showing more interest than ever in investing in nature-based solutions, while the finance sector is increasingly aware of the risks posed to their portfolios by climate change and biodiversity loss, CPF members noted.

“There is a strong need to unlock investment opportunities that strengthen livelihoods, are deforestation-free, and mitigate the risks of future zoonotic diseases,” they said.

CPF members also called for greater efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, implement the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030 and its Global Forest Goals, and meet forest-related targets of other international treaties.

The Committee on Forestry (COFO) is the highest FAO Forestry statutory body. The biennial sessions of COFO bring together heads of forest services and other senior government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, to seek solutions and to advise FAO and others on appropriate action.

last updated:  Monday, October 12, 2020