Thursday, November 26, 2015

A year-long celebration of vital role of world’s forests

Recognizing the role that forests play in everything from mitigating climate change to providing wood, medicines and livelihoods for people worldwide, the United Nations today kicked off a year-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of this important resource.

“Forests for People” is the main theme of the International Year of Forests, which was launched at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York attended by world leaders, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and forest experts.

The General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests, on which at least 1.6 billion people depend for their daily livelihoods and subsistence needs. Forests are also home to over 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, who reside in forests.

“By declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the United Nations General Assembly has created an important platform to educate the global community about the great value of forests – and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them,” noted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Today’s launch ceremony, presided over by General Assembly President Joseph Deiss, is part of the high-level segment of the UN Forum on Forests, an intergovernmental policy forum dealing with forest-related issues. “Every one of us, all seven billion people on earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to the health of our forest ecosystems,” noted Jan McAlpine, the Director of the Forum’s Secretariat. “Throughout 2011, we will celebrate this intricate, interdependent relationship between forests and people,” she said.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), also noted that forests represent many things to many people including spiritual, aesthetic and cultural dimensions that are, in many ways, priceless. “But they are also cornerstones of our economies, whose real value has all too often been invisible in national accounts of profit and loss,” he added.

Forests cover about 31 per cent of total land area, amounting to just under 4 billion hectares, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which today released its “State of the World’s Forests” report.

The report, which is published every two years, stresses that the forest industry forms an important part of a “greener” economy and wood products have environmental attributes that would appeal to people.

The industry is responding to numerous environmental and social concerns by improving sustainability of resource use, using more waste materials to make products, increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions. For example, 37 per cent of total forest production in 2010 came from recovered paper, wood waste and non-wood fibres, a figure that is likely to grow to up to 45 per cent in 2030, with much of that growth from China and India.

“What we need during the International Year of Forests is to emphasize the connection between people and forests, and the benefits that can accrue when forests are managed by local people in sustainable and innovative ways,” said Eduardo Rojas, FAO’s Forestry Director.

Ms. Maathai noted in her address at the launch, as well as in a briefing to reporters, that the value of the International Year is the opportunity to “explore the value of the trees, the forests and the environment, as well as the value of the environmental services that these resources give us.”

She added that too often forests and the services they provide are taken for granted and seen as resources that are unlimited. “But we all know now that we are facing situations where these forests are disappearing,” she told reporters.

As part of the launch, international filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand will premiere his short film “FOREST.” The ceremony also featured clips from winning films from the International Forest Film Festival which was organised by the UN Forum on Forest Secretariat in collaboration with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.


On Behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ambassador Zahir Tanin spoke at a round table session on “Forests for People.”  He described the dramatic changes in the Afghan forest coverage over the last thirty years.  “As a result of the absence of forest management and poor agricultural practices amongst other contributing factors due to decades of conflict and instability,” he said, “forests cover less than 3% of total land area in Afghanistan today.” Ambassador Tanin explained the necessity of preserving forests in order to serve as a primary energy source as well as for their non-timber products.

According to Ambassador Tanin, “UN Environmental Protection experts predict that at the current rate of deforestation, Afghanistan’s forests will disappear within 30 years if collective action is not taken to reverse the destruction.”  The government of Afghanistan, he explained, is working to address the issue through the adoption of a national plan to improve policies in relation to forests.

Afghanistan Calls for More Delisting of Former Taliban Members

On 15 November, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, addressed the UN Security Council during its debate on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committees.  He said that the main challenge to Afghanistan’s security remains the terrorist activities of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups.  “The enemy we face,” he said, “is part of a complex and sophisticated network with safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region from which terrorists still enjoy support.”

Ambassador Tanin also stated that as Afghanistan and the International Community continue their fight against the terrorists, reconciliation efforts and outreach to the armed opposition who would like to join the peace process by renouncing violence are critical.  He welcomed the delisting of ten former Taliban members from the consolidated list of Individuals and Entities Associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban over the past year.  He urged the Security Council to “give due consideration to Afghanistan’s additional de-listing requests.”

He expressed Afghanistan’s support for the counter-terrorism committees. The 1267 committee was praised for its efforts in keeping the sanctions list current and as a result of this process the de-listing of 10 former Taliban members which will contribute to Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative.  Additionally, the 1373 committee and the 1540 committee were commended for their ongoing efforts in the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors respectively.

Overall, this was an important opportunity to reconfirm the Afghan peoples’ commitment to the fight for the elimination of terrorism with the partnership of the international community.

Briefing by Chairmen of Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the Security Council

on “Briefing by Chairmen of Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council.”

Mr. President,
As this is the first time that I am taking the floor during this month, permit me, at the outset, to congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the Council during November. And we thank you for holding today’s debate on the work of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council dealing with terrorism.

My delegation is thankful to Ambassador Harting of Austria, Ambassador Apagan of Turkey and Ambassador Heller of Mexico for their comprehensive briefings on the work of the counter-terrorism committees, established pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004).

Mr. President,

Afghanistan remains the number one victim of international terrorism.  Nearly a decade ago, Afghanistan and the international community joined hands to end the rule of terrorists and extremists, who used the country as a base for international terrorism. And today, notwithstanding important progress in the political, social and economic fronts, the terrorist campaign of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups continues to be the main challenge to Afghanistan’s security, reconstruction and development. Terrorists have killed or maimed thousands of innocent men, women and children; and they seek to take Afghanistan back to the days when tyranny and oppression were seen as the rule of law.

Mr. President,

As we have echoed time and again in this very Council, terrorism in Afghanistan and our part of the world is a growing threat to international peace and security. The enemy we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network with safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region from which terrorists still enjoy support. Afghanistan remains alarmed at the presence of these support centers, and reiterates that unless they are addressed, the terrorism which has been raging like wildfire will regrettably continue.

Mr. President,

As the front-line state in combating terrorism, Afghanistan has suffered immensely in terms of loss of human life, and the destruction of our economy and infrastructure. Afghans have made enormous sacrifices in this struggle.  As we speak, our national army and police are engaged in fierce combat against enemy forces in joint military operations with international forces. We have taken the fight to terrorists, and prevented their ability to carry out large-scale conventional attacks. That is why they resort to desperate tactics – suicide bombings, assassinations and abductions.

Further, as we get ready to begin the transition process, we have given new focus on building the size and strength of our national army and police. The detailed plan of the transition strategy will be presented at the upcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon later this week. We are confident that a stronger and more efficient security force will lead to further progress in the fight against terrorism, and to improvement in the security situation.

Mr. President,
As long as terrorism remains a threat, the fight against it will continue. By the same token, it is widely recognized that military efforts alone are not the solution to Afghanistan’s security problem. Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants with no links to terrorist organizations is critical for achieving lasting peace and security.  In this regard, I want to state clearly that our reintegration and reconciliation initiative will be pursued in conformity with the provisions of the Afghan constitution. Additionally, we give full assurance that the democratic process and respect for human rights, the rights of women in particular, will remain a priority during reconciliation.

Mr. President

Afghanistan commends the Security Council for the able manner in which it is leading international efforts in combating terrorism. In that regard, we highlight the importance of counter-terrorism committees 1267, 1373 and 1540.

Mr. President,

The 1267 Committee remains one of the important instruments of the Security Council in countering terrorism. Consistent with resolution 1904, the Committee has taken a number of important steps to increase transparency and effectiveness in its work. In July of this year, the Committee revised its working guidelines. Another important achievement is the publication of narrative summaries for enlisting. This new practice provides member-states with concise information, such as date and reason for listing. Moreover, in August, the Committee concluded its review of all individuals on the consolidated list, which led to the delisting of additional names.

Mr. President,

We join other speakers in underscoring the importance of a periodic review of the list, so as to ensure its accuracy. In this connection, Afghanistan welcomes the de-listing of 10 former Taliban members during the course of the year. Such measures will benefit Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative. Having said that, we urge the Committee to also give due consideration to Afghanistan’s additional de-listing requests, and look forward to Monitoring Team’s visit to Kabul at the end of this month.

In regards to the 1373 Committee, we underscore its important work, and welcome the continued efforts of the Committee and its Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for increased collaboration with member-states.

Mr. President,

Terrorists have proven their readiness to terrorize peoples, societies, and countries as a demonstration of their strength. They will no spare no effort to go to all lengths, including resorting to nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism. In this connection, we commend the ongoing efforts of the 1540 Committee in preventing non-state actors from participating in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is actively engaged in implementing the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on terrorism, on which we have presented national reports. Needless to say, Afghanistan is party to all 13 conventions on terrorism. Moreover, Afghanistan’s relevant national institutions, the security and judicial sectors in particular, are working diligently to further strengthen our counter-terrorism efforts.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I should like to state that the fight against terrorism is a key component of our partnership with the international community. We look forward to strengthening this partnership in the coming years.  And let me reiterate that the people of Afghanistan are as resolute as ever before to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Thank you Mr. President.