L-R: Godwin Kowero, African Forest Forum (AFF); Gerhard Dieterle, Executive Director, International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO); Uma Lele, Independent Scholar, Keynote Speaker; Wu Zhimin, UNFF Bureau member; Moncef Khane, UNFF12 Secretary; Chip Barber, World Resources Institute (WRI), Moderator; and Frances Seymour, Center for Global Development. Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon. 
New York, 4 May 2017. The twelfth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF12) opened on Monday, 1 May 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York with calls for enhanced action towards implementation of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF). 
The UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF) is considered a milestone in the post-2015 global forest policy agenda. It aims to build on the momentum provided by the 2015 global milestones represented by the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UNSPF provides a global framework for actions at all levels to sustainably manage all types of forests and trees outside forests and halt deforestation and forest degradation.
In his opening remarks, UNFF12 Chair Peter Besseau emphasized that implementation of the six Global Forest Goals and 26 associated targets of the UNSPF demanded “ambitious, deliberate, UN-wide action.” Following adoption of the provisional agenda (E/CN.18/2017/1), delegates from across the globe had the opportunity to delve into technical discussions and exchange of experiences on the thematic and operational priorities, priority actions and resource needs for the period 2017. Panel discussions focused on the contribution of forests to:

SDG 1 Poverty alleviation
SDG 2 Food security
SDG 5 Gender equality

In this regard, Prof. Godwin Kowero, Executive Secretary, African Forest Forum (AFF), outlined research demonstrating how forests can contribute to health, clean water, food, shelter, employment and energy, but pointed out that research rarely shows how such goods and services can lift people out of poverty permanently. He noted that a vibrant forest sector contributes to the growth of local markets, and added that there is a need to strengthen policies addressing the nexus between land-based activities and poverty eradication.
Cecile Ndjebet, President, African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF) highlighted the important role women play in forests, stating their engagement in the sector is critical to combating climate change and achieving SFM. She urged stakeholders to involve women in decision-making, involve men in training and promote equitable access to resources.
Delegates also held a panel discussion on the contributions of Collaboration Partnership on Forests (CPF) members, UN partners and stakeholders to implementing the UNSPF. They will also be expected to make voluntary announcements of voluntary national contributions.