CIFOR’s Director General, Dr. Peter Holmgren, has opened the way to wider engagement between science and policy on decision-making for forests, in a joint statement delivered at the 11th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) in New York on Monday.
Issuing the first part of a joint statement on behalf of CIFOR, IUFRO and ICRAF, Dr. Holmgren committed “to work together on a joint forest science–policy interaction platform” to support the UNFF and International Arrangement on Forests.
“Through our forest science–policy interaction platform we will also seek to respond to needs and requirements of other processes and arrangements for which forests are relevant. In particular, we will seek to interact with the development, monitoring and analysis of progress of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“Our joint platform will aim to identify, in an organized way, requirements of scientific knowledge, including emerging issues.”
CIFOR, IUFRO and ICRAF serve as focal points for scientific knowledge in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. Since the establishment of the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) in 2001, all three organizations have been active in providing the Forum and its member states with relevant scientific information. They have established various initiatives and partnerships that respond effectively to the information needs of policy makers and stakeholders at an international level.
The science–policy interaction platform will be informed by such existing initiatives, including the Evidence-Based Forestry initiative led by CIFOR, the Global Forest Expert Panels led by IUFRO and the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins led by ICRAF.
“Between our organizations, we represent significant experience and capacity in forest science, both in our institutions as such, and also through our extensive networks of scientists and scientific institutions with a global reach,” Dr. Holmgren said.
“We recognize that a wider engagement is necessary to advance on science-policy interaction. We invite the Member countries to consider opportunities to this end.”
Dr. Holmgren’s commitment was reiterated by Dr. John Parrotta, IUFRO Vice President, in a following statement.
The full text of the intervention is reproduced below. A video recording has been published on UNTV (starting at minute 18).
ELEVENTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS FORUM ON FORESTS
JOINT STATEMENT TO UNFF-11 BY CIFOR, IUFRO and ICRAF
Statement delivered in the opening plenary of UNFF-11 by Dr. Peter Holmgren, Director General of CIFOR and Dr. John Parrotta, IUFRO Vice-President for Task Forces, Special Programmes, Projects and IUFRO-led Initiatives
New York, 4 May 2015
Dr. Peter Holmgren, Director General of CIFOR:
Ladies and Gentlemen
We have already heard several statements in this opening session of UNFF-11 refer to the need for a strengthened science-policy interface for the International Arrangement on Forests.
This intervention is made jointly by three international organisations, each with a primary mandate to advance forest science and the uptake of scientific results in policies and decision making. These are the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO), and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). In our joint statement to the UNFF today, we commit to work together on a joint forest science-policy interaction platform.
Between our organisations, we represent significant experience and capacity in forest science, both in our institutions as such, and also through our extensive networks of scientists and scientific institutions with a global reach. We represent and collaborate with forest institutions in most Member States, with a strong presence both in the global North and in the global South.
We look forward to the UNFF deliberations and to develop our interface with the future International Arrangement on Forests. If so requested, we also look forward to opportunities for reporting to future sessions of the UNFF.
Through our forest science-policy interaction platform we will also seek to respond to needs and requirements of other processes and arrangements for which forests are relevant. In particular, we will seek to interact with the development, monitoring and analysis of progress of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Our joint platform will aim to identify, in an organised way, requirements of scientific knowledge, including emerging issues. It will be informed by existing initiatives and activities of our organisations. These include the Evidence-Based Forestry initiative led by CIFOR, the Global Forest Expert Panels led by IUFRO and the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins led by ICRAF.
Going forward, we recognise that a wider engagement is necessary to advance on science-policy interaction. We invite the Member countries to consider opportunities to this end.
Allow me now to say a few words about CIFOR
CIFOR is an international organisation founded in 1993, with headquarters hosted by the Government of Indonesia in Bogor, outside Jakarta. From the outset, CIFOR has advanced research, capacity development and engagement on a wide range of forest-related issues. Today we have over 250 staff across the tropics, and collaborate with many scientists and research organisations on all continents. We lead what is probably the largest international research programme on forests in existence.
Our research cover issues related to governance, livelihoods and the environment, that is forests and forestry in the broadest sense. In recent years, we have had a strong focus on forests and climate change, following the emphasis on forests in the UNFCCC. As part of this work, we have organised high-profile annual Forest Days on the occasion of the climate change COPs, together with our close partners in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). There is no doubt that the wide reach and mandates of the CPF members helped to advance the forest and climate change discussions over the six Forest Days between 2007-2012.
From 2013, we have moved on to create an integrated platform – the Global Landscapes Forum. By broadening the involvement to as many as 100 organisations – multilateral organisations, governments, provinces, civil society, private corporate and private finance sectors – we are now addressing major challenges across sectors and opening new avenues for partnerships and innovative solutions. In short, we have to look beyond the forest institutions to provide solutions for forests, and we need to open up for other sectors to realise the enormous potential that forests can provide beyond the forest boundary. This is exciting! I welcome you to take part of the GLF-3 in Paris on 5-6 December 2015.
Let me highlight the Evidence-Based Forestry initiative that CIFOR is leading. This will be presented more in detail in our side event on 6 May. Without rigour in analyses of science we may make important decisions without sufficient input from science. Or worse, we may make decisions that are based on invalid representation of science, undermining both the decisions as well as the role of science itself. We are therefore building on experiences from other sectors, such as medicine, to systematically examine policy-relevant questions in forestry, so as to make clear and transparent what science actually says.
CIFOR, as a member of CPF, is also engaged in the International Arrangement on Forests. As CIFOR, we see a number of opportunities to enhance our involvement for example (a) in a potential Country-led Initiative(s) dedicated to science-policy interaction, (b) help reinforcing the UNFF secretariat in the area of science, (c) meet requests to analyse progress towards the Global Objectives on Forests.
Let me also offer a few words from the World Agroforestry Centre – ICRAF
Director General Tony Simons could unfortunately not be with us today. Like CIFOR, ICRAF is part of the CGIAR, a consortium of international organisations that deliver 1bn US dollar worth of research every year, addressing food security, poverty and natural resources management. ICRAF is at the core of this effort, working with the crucial interface of forests, trees and agriculture. Many million livelihoods depend on agroforestry systems, which leads to the important point that we can’t really draw a line on the ground between forests and agriculture. ICRAF’s work is essential for the future we want, especially for supporting the future of smallholder farmers in the tropics. And it is essential for pointing out that institutional boundaries many times need to be crossed to find the necessary solutions. Along this line, the ICRAF-led ASB Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins is a key initiative for improving livelihoods and deal with climate change in these mosaic landscapes.
Had Tony Simons been here, he would have offered a much richer story about ICRAF. Let me just conclude that ICRAF is an essential and a very close partner in our shared efforts to advance knowledge and solutions for those that need it most – poor people that depend on the land and on forests and trees.
Let me now hand over to my colleague and friend John Parrotta who is the Vice-President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, IUFRO.
Dr. John Parrotta, IUFRO Vice-President for Task Forces, Special Programmes, Projects and IUFRO-led Initiatives:
Please allow me to add a few words on behalf of IUFRO – the global network for forest science collaboration.
The deliberations on a future International Arrangement on Forests provide member states with an opportunity to develop a strong focus on emerging problems and to strengthen the coordination and integration of policies on forests, trees and landscapes.
Over the past 12 years, IUFRO and its scientific partners in the CPF have established a number of initiatives and mechanisms which support member states in formulating and implementing relevant policies, measuring progress, and analysing the reasons for their success and failure.
As reflected in the CPF Framework Document presented earlier today by the CPF Chair, IUFRO leads and coordinates three Joint Initiatives of the CPF, namely the Global Forest Expert Panels, the Global Forest Information Service, and the Policy Learning Initiative.
All three activities build on the large pool of scientists from IUFRO’s almost 650 Member Organizations in more than 120 countries and draw on evidence-based knowledge derived from our global network. Furthermore, they involve the active collaboration with our partners in the CPF and especially with CIFOR and ICRAF.
With a view to a future international arrangement on forests, please allow me to highlight in particular the Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP). This initiative links the information requirements of intergovernmental processes with existing scientific expertise. Thematic panels of internationally recognized scientific experts produce assessment reports on key issues that reflect state-of-the-art understanding of the subject matter. Since its establishment in 2007, GFEP has completed four global assessments and as such has grown to become an internationally respected mechanism having substantial impact.
The latest GFEP assessment report entitled “Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition” will be formally launched here at UNFF-11 during a joint side-event with CIFOR and ICRAF on Wednesday, May 6th. This report is expected to make a substantial contribution to the post-2015 development agenda, the 2025 “Zero Hunger Challenge”, and the UN Committee on World Food Security.
GFEP is an example of an international mechanism which responds effectively to the information needs of policy makers and stakeholders at an international level. However, it could be argued that its full potential has not yet been realized. More specifically, there is potential to enable a more direct science-policy interaction with a view to identifying emerging policy questions that could be addressed by future Expert Panels, and to assessing more systematically the policy implications of completed GFEP assessments.
Another example, IUFRO’s Special Project “World Forests, Society and Environment” (WFSE), focuses on key emerging topics recognized by the scientific community as having important policy implications. The side-event entitled “Enhancing forest-related development: Community and smallholder forestry in the nexus of markets, policy, and implementation” of this Special Project was held just before this session.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us seize the opportunity afforded by the review of the IAF to turn existing challenges into opportunities. One of the very specific opportunities for further improvement of the IAF is to enable a more direct and systematic science-policy interaction in a future IAF, as well as using existing initiatives and partnerships more effectively. IUFRO, together with its partners CIFOR and ICRAF, stands ready to support Member States and the Forum in this endeavour.
In closing, IUFRO and our scientific partners in the CPF – namely, ICRAF and CIFOR – would like to thank the Chair for providing this opportunity to speak with you this afternoon, and to thank you, distinguished delegates, for your attention and support.