Daniel Reifsnyder, U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, will lead the U.S. delegation to the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF9) in New York, which takes place from January 23 to February 3. The delegation will include officials and experts from the Department of State, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Association of State Foresters. Reifsnyder will also moderate a ministerial-level roundtable discussion on “Forests and Rio+20” during the High-Level Segment.
The UNFF9 meetings will officially launch 2011 as the International Year of Forests, with the theme “Celebrating Forests for People.” The theme for the UNFF9 meetings will be “Forests for People, Livelihoods and Poverty Eradication.” The meetings provide the opportunity for governments to discuss the cultural and social values of forests, governance, and enhanced cooperation among all stakeholders.
The U.S. Government will highlight its forest-related activities and initiatives over the course of the two weeks, including hosting a side event on January 31 focused on “Urban Greening in America.” This event will feature experts from the private sector and government to discuss city and state-level greening initiatives. The panelists will include: Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; Greg Nickels, former Seattle Mayor; David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability; Peter Mullan, Vice President, Planning and Design, The High Line; and Audrey Choi, Managing Director, Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley.
The U.S. is also organizing an exhibit, “Forests in a Box,” featuring five entries from a countrywide student competition jointly funded by the U.S. Forest Service and the American Forest Foundation. The U.S. Forest Service, in collaboration with MillionTreesNYC and the UN Forum on Forests, is co-hosting a reception to celebrate the U.S. launch of the International Year of Forests.
USAID spends $110 million annually in developing countries in support of the UNFF 9 themes of community forest management and improved livelihoods. Forest-related issues have been a priority on the international policy and political agendas since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations Forum on Forests was established in October 2000 to promote and strengthen long-term commitments to the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests. The UNFF is composed of all member states of the United Nations and its specialized agencies.