• Rio+20 ignored forests protection

                July 5, 2012
                by Davide Salviati
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                Deforestation (Copyright Oregonlive)

                According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), forests have been largely ignored or ambiguously mentioned in the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), yet again postponing progress on integrating forests into sustainable development objectives.

                “If you look at this document as providing some sort of guidepost for making decisions or taking actions in the future, the positions that are taken do not actually provide any specificity,” said Peter Cronkleton, Senior Scientist at the CIFOR’s Peru office.

                Louis Verchot, Principal Scientist at CIFOR agrees but added: “When you look who attended Rio+20, it is ministers of environment and  foreign affairs, not ministers of finance, and these are are the people who you need to make the national commitments.”

                The document’s section on forests specifically calls for urgent implementation of the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests (NLBI) adopted by the UN General Assembly.

                The purpose of the instrument is to strengthen political commitment and action to implement sustainable forest management to achieve internationally agreed development goals.

                “There was some progress in the early stages of the agreement, but because of lack of long term commitment by countries, the progress has slowed,” Verchot said.

                While the level of frustration and cynicism about the Rio+20 process is abound, this frustration may actually lead to civil society efforts to define actions at the regional and national level, Cronkleton said.

                One area where there could be clear commitments is in the clarification of commercial and community rights over forest, Cronkleton suggested. In many countries around the world, deforestation and forest degradation occurs in open-access forests that are often under state control. However state agencies usually lack sufficient resources and personnel for effective governance of these areas, says Cronkleton, creating a ‘free-for-all’ situation.

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