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The World Loses Ten Million Hectares Of Forest Annually – DESA

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has said the world the world loses ten million hectares of forest every year, which is roughly the size of Iceland, the European island nation.

Chief, Sustainable Development (SDG) Monitoring Section, Statistics Division of DESA, Yongyi Min made this observation while speaking at the Global Policy Dialogue organized recently by DESA, on the theme, “Protecting Biodiversity in Times of Crisis: Exploring SDGs 14 and 15”, which also sought to identify ways to build and scale partnerships to achieve these Goals.

The dialogue was organized with support from the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund. It was the second of two DESA Global Policy Dialogues on Recommitting to the SDGs. The first dialogue convened on 21 June and addressed the interlinkages between SDGs 4 (quality education) and 5 (gender equality).

The event convened in preparation for the July 2022 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) where countries will conduct in-depth review of five SDGs, including SDGs 14, 15, and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

Min, who is also the lead author of the ‘Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, which will be formally launched during the HLPF in July, noted that species extinction is occurring “at an unprecedented rate”.

She said human activity and unsustainable consumption patterns are the root causes behind the triple crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution.

According to her, 14 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been lost in the period from 2009-2018 due to ocean acidification, which reduces the ocean’s ability to support marine life. Min also added that around one-third of fish stocks have been overfished due to rapid growth in fish consumption.

She equally outlined the ocean’s role in contributing to poverty eradication and sustainable economic growth and to mitigating climate change. “We need all hands on deck to navigate our way towards a healthy ocean”, she said.

On partnerships, she stressed that a high degree of connectivity between marine and terrestrial ecosystems as many marine impacts such as eutrophication of coastal water and plastic pollution originate on land, and the need to address these links to support holistic resource management.

Min also underscored the lack of funding for implementation and limited integration of biodiversity considerations in economic recovery measures.

The interactive event which was held online last week, featured two panel discussions where sustainable development experts and innovators shared perspectives on how to protect marine and terrestrial biodiversity, our forests, and our oceans. Clare Forestier moderated the event.

The dialogue opened with a short video by DESA, which highlighted the UN Ocean Conference, convening in Lisbon, Portugal, from 27 June to 1 July, as an opportunity to “turn the tide” by forging partnerships and making new commitments to “save the ocean to protect our future.”

Moderated by Clare Forestie, the panelists in the first section discussed the latest data on the state of forests and the ocean and how to mobilize innovation and build new public-private partnerships for biodiversity.

Responding to questions from the audience, the panelists highlighted, among other issues: challenges to protecting biodiversity in conflict-affected areas; benefits payments for ecosystem services have for conservation; the need to fill data gaps by developing methodologies and strengthening indicators; and the importance of effectively communicating the links between data, science, and policy to the general public.

Forest Affairs Officer, UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), Tomasz Juszczak discussed how the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 and the Global Forest Goals promote sustainable forest management (SFM) and enhance forests’ contribution to sustainable development.

He said forests play a significant role in supporting food security and poverty reduction, which is currently “undervalued” as data to measure those contributions are lacking. He also stressed the need for data that show the full value of forests and the services they provide to society.

Similarly, the Executive Director of Indigenous Information Network, and participant at the SDG 15 Expert Group Meeting, Lucy Mulenkei emphasized the importance of using traditional knowledge that Indigenous Peoples have relied on for generations to protect biodiversity and support SDG implementation.

The second panel focused on mobilizing innovation and building new public-private partnerships (PPPs) for biodiversity.

Deputy Head, Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR), Yabanex Batista presented GFCR, the first fund fully dedicated to financing SDG 14. He said the Fund is an innovative instrument aiming to build coral reef positive business solutions through blended finance.

Batista outlined the Fund’s work with a range of stakeholders, including governments, civil society, and the private sector to pull resources to create better agricultural practices, support financial mechanisms that can be connected to blue carbon schemes, and promote coral reef insurance schemes, among other efforts.

He emphasized the role of partnerships in addressing global challenges.

On his part, the Director of Strategy at Tealeaves, and participant at SDG 15 Expert Group Meeting, Garret Chan said his company works with diverse partners to co-create a new aspirational nature-positive lifestyle that can contribute to more sustainable consumption patterns.

In his contribution, the Field Operations Manager of Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Robby Robinson said Buffalo Bayou is a slow-moving river in Houston, Texas, United States of America, that his non-profit seeks to “revitalize and transform”.

Robinson noted that this will be achieved by working in partnership with the city, the county, foundations, and citizens. He also observed that a “bottle bill” requiring a deposit on all plastic bottles would create value in what is otherwise considered waste and help put plastic in the recycling chain and pay for cleanup.

Corroborating Robinson’s assertion, the Field Operations Foreman of Buffalo Bayou Partnership, David Rivers outlined the Partnership’s efforts to clean up the bayou, protect its wildlife, and eradicate invasive plant species.

He said a drastic reduction in the amount of trash in the river during the COVID-19 pandemic points to the need to change people’s day-to-day habits.

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