Forests are essential for sustainable economic development: U.S. official

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A resident of the National Tapajos forest, in Brazil, assembles a bag made of locally processed latex. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

The United Nations Forum on Forests continues in Istanbul Turkey. Donn Bobb reports.

Forests as well as other natural ecosystems constitute essential natural infrastructure for sustainable economic development, poverty alleviation, and improved human well-being.

That's what the United States Assistant Secretary in Oceans and Environment at the Department of State Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones told the UN Forum on Forests – UNFF10 in Istanbul on Tuesday.

She warned that "we will not end extreme poverty unless we address crucial environmental issues such as deforestation and desertification and we will not achieve global sustainability when there are more than a billion people living on less than $1.25 a day".

According to Dr. Jones, "it is important that the forest community communicate a strong case about the direct relationship between forests on water quality and quantity, on clean air, on agricultural productivity and on human health".

And she asked what can be done to integrate sustainable forest management into the mainstream of economic policy and decision-making.

"New initiatives are a natural capital accounting highlighted in Rio+20 can move this discussion forward. The United States believes that UNFF10 should deliver a strong message on forests to the Rio+20 follow-up and post 2015 development agenda processes. That message should stress the key functions that forests play in maintaining our food and water resources, their central importance for indigenous and forest-dependent communities and then unique role as the repository of more than half of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity. At the same time, we must recognize that forests are likely to be one of many environmental components in the broader discussion of the post-2015 development agenda."

Dr. Jones says healthy forests are part of the equation in addressing so many of the priority issues identified at Rio+20 such as food security, clean water, climate change and livelihoods.

She says the United States can envision the emergence of one post- 2015 agenda that addresses poverty, inclusive growth and sustainability.

This one agenda will also incorporate centrally any unfinished business of the MDGs.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2'14"

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