Turning the Tide on Deforestation

Side Event - 16th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests 
Tuesday, 27 April 2021, 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm EDT (New York time)
19:30 - 20:45 CEST (Rome time)

Forests are key to realizing the 2030 Agenda, as they are a source of sustainable livelihoods, food, prosperity and resilience at a time of unprecedented planetary, health and economic crisis. We are not on track with halting deforestation. As it stands, the world loses 10 million hectares of forest each year – a loss comparable to the size of Iceland. For this reason, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for scaling up action on “Turning the tide on deforestation”, stating that “we must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm.”

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) launched its Joint Statement on Challenges and Opportunities in Turning the Tide on Deforestation, which presents sound scientific facts and figures around deforestation and the multidimensional services provided by forests. While the statement highlights the main challenges and opportunities of halting deforestation, it aims to facilitate informed global dialogue.

CPF members have a key role to play in building consensus and policy coherence; providing data and analysis for solutions and agreements; and accelerate action in countries through their presence and technical support.

On the basis of the Joint Statement, panelists showcased solutions to scale up efforts to halt deforestation and accelerate ecosystem restoration; two issues that must work hand in hand to build back better.

Leading up to the launch of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and pushing the Decade of Action, this side event raised momentum for Turning the Tide on Deforestation.


Moderated panel discussion by Mr Tim Christophersen, Head, Nature for Climate Branch, UNEP

Opening through the Special Guest Speaker:

  • Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment, United Kingdom

Keynote speech:

  • Launch of the Joint Statement on Challenges and Opportunities in Turning the Tide on Deforestation, Ms Mette Løyche Wilkie, Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and Director, FAO Forestry Division


  • Ms Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director, Climate Change, Forestry Commission, Ghana
  • Mr Pascal Martinez, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Global Environment Facility
  • Ms Adriana Vidal, Senior Forest Policy Officer, Forest Conservation Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • Ms María del Mar Mozo Muriel, Director of Forests, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Colombia

Closing remarks:

  • Dr Eva Müller, Director General for Forests, Sustainability and Renewable Resources, Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany


In September 2019, the United Nations Secretary-General called for scaling up action to “turn the tide on deforestation”, stating that “we must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm”.

Even though some regions have slowed or reversed the trend of deforestation, the world failed to meet SDG target 15.2 to halt deforestation by 2020. An estimated 420 million hectares of forest – about the size of Iceland – have been lost through deforestation since 1990.

Deforestation and other land-use activities account for 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; it is unlikely, therefore, that climate goals can be met without halting deforestation. A range of ecosystem-based solutions can be cost-effective ways to provide up to one-third of the climate-change mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize global warming below 2ºC. Of these, reducing deforestation and forest degradation, and scaling up forest landscape restoration are among the best options.

There is strong evidence that restoring forests - and managing them sustainably - is a cost-effective option for tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and deforestation. Forest restoration could remove 13 to 26 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere between 2020 and 2030. Investments in forest restoration will also contribute to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by creating green jobs, generating incomes, improving human health and increasing food security.

There are many public and private commitments to halting deforestation, but implementation is lagging. Halting deforestation requires action beyond the forest sector, notably through transforming agriculture and food systems. Multiple factors lead to conversion of forest to agriculture, and reconciling objectives for socio-economic development, food security, health, environment conservation and climate is challenging. Solutions should be integrated and include efforts to increase policy coherence, especially to remove harmful subsidies; provide incentives to retain forests and discourage deforestation; increase tenure security; alleviate poverty; and encourage sustainable development. Halting deforestation also requires more public investment and the ramping up of public and private climate finance.


Malgorzata Buszko-Briggs, Team Leader, Statutory bodies, Collaborative Partnership on Forests and Outreach, FAO Forestry Division Team Leader: [email protected]


The members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests: www.cpfweb.org

last updated:  Friday, July 9, 2021