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Phoebe Thomas

Deputy, Host Country Agreements for International Organisations, FCDO Protocol Directorate

Part of Climate change

21st March 2024 London, United Kingdom

Forests in focus on International Day of Forests

Minister for Climate, Environment and Energy Lord Benyon signs the Treaty on behalf of the United Kingdom, in London 20 March 2024.

The 2030 target to halt and reverse forest loss, which was agreed by over 140 states at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP26 is coming more sharply into view.  The UK is committed to working with all our partners, including specialist organisations such as the European Forest Institute, to make it a reality.

As part of our efforts to deepen our partnerships and to mark the International Day of Forests 2024, we have just signed a new agreement with the European Forest Institute (EFI). The treaty will deepen our links with EFI and enable them to open an office in the UK.   As a result, we’ll foster greater UK collaboration with the EFI’s 30 member states and member organisations from 39 countries. This will reinforce the UK’s leadership on international forests and climate policy.

Why forests are important

As identified in the 2023 Integrated Review, climate change and biodiversity loss pose an existential threat. Forests are fundamental to climate security, for biodiversity and to sustainable livelihoods for 1.2 billion people. Forests curb local temperature extremes and are essential for the water cycle all over the world.  There is no viable pathway to keeping global heating below 1.5 degrees without accelerating efforts to halt and reverse forest loss.

At COP28 in December 2023, the commitment to halt and reverse deforestation was recognised in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Stocktake for the first time.  But lots of difficult work remains to be done. Whilst the rate of global deforestation has reduced, we still lost over 10 million hectares a year between 2015 and 2020.  Much of that deforestation occurs in the tropics and is driven by agricultural expansion for crops and cattle. Agricultural subsidies, valued at more than USD 635 billion each year, have been linked to the loss of 2.2 million hectares of forest annually and dwarf forest-positive financial flows.

Why we’re working with the European Forest Institute

The UK has been involved with the EFI for over 10 years, including through FCDO’s flagship forest governance programme (FGMC). This programme aims to reduce the illegal use of forest resources and ensure benefits for poor people who depend on forests for their livelihoods.  Together with EFI we have supported national policy processes on forest and land-use governance in 17 countries across the three tropical forest basins.

The European Forest Institute (EFI) is an international governmental organisation set up to conduct research and provide policy advice on forest-related issues. It is headquartered in Finland, with other offices across Europe. The UK signed the EFI Convention (PDF,573KB) in 2003 and sits on its Council and Board.

Director Robert Mavsar signs the Treaty on behalf of the European Forest Institute, in Helsinki 19 March 2024.

The International Forests Unit and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Protocol Directorate have worked together to secure the treaty between the UK and EFI.

The UK International Forests Unit (IFU) is a joint FCDO and Department for Energy Security and Net Zero team, which works across government, including the overseas network, to catalyse delivering international commitments to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030.

The FCDO Protocol Directorate, and specifically the International Organisations Team, advised on the development and progression of the Treaty. We work with FCDO policy teams and international organisations to prepare new or amend existing agreements.

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About Phoebe Thomas

Phoebe joined the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London in November 2023, and works on primary and secondary legislation for International Organisations either with an office or who are…

Phoebe joined the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London in November 2023, and works on primary and secondary legislation for International Organisations either with an office or who are looking to establish an office in the UK.

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