Turkey’s Participation to COFO

Turkey’s Participation to COFO

The Committee on Forestry (COFO)  is the highest FAO Forestry statutory body. The biennial sessions of COFO bring together heads of forest services and other senior government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, to seek solutions and to advise FAO and others on appropriate action.

Personally I had the opportunity to participate the 2010, 2012 and 2014 COFO Sessions. Furthermore I had not been able to participate the 2009 session but I followed the preparations.


Year Date Session of COFO Web Page
2009 16-20 March 19th  Session http://www.fao.org/forestry/cofo2009/en/
2010 4-8 October 20th Session http://www.fao.org/forestry/cofo2010/en/
2012 24-28 September 21st Session http://www.fao.org/forestry/cofo2012/en/
2014 23-27 June 2014 22nd Session http://www.fao.org/forestry/57758/en/
2016 18-22 July 23rd Session http://www.fao.org/forestry/57759/en/


After and before all sessions we tried to prepare reports covering Turkish activities and general issues.

The report of 19th Session (2009) could be reached at this following link. cofo-uturhan2009

As Turkish side we participated to COFO 20th Session (2010)  with a huge delegation headed by Dr. Mahir Küçük, Deputy Undersecretary.

During this session I participated The High Level Panel on Forests and Water in the Context of Climate Change.  The news and pictures related to this panel can be found at this link  http://www.iisd.ca/fao/cof20/5oct.html  


Also the official document prepared by FAO is at this link http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/019/k8992e.pdf

My presentation for The High Level Panel on Forests and Water in the Context of Climate Change is here. ibelen-COFO20 Presentation The news published at OGM’s web site is here cofo20-OGM Web Sayfası Ekim 2010

During COFO20, we strongly supported to Declaration of 21st March as the “International Day of Forests” My intervention about this issue is here. As the result The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/67/200 on 21 December 2012, which declared that 21 March of each year is to be observed as the International Day of Forests. http://www.un.org/en/events/forestsday/


Statement of Turkey on agenda item 18 (International Year of Forests 2011)
 As indicated before, we associate ourselves with the statement made by Hungary on behalf of the EU. Here, we would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our views on issue of the international day of forests.The paper demonstrates the importance of the international year of forests in promoting forestry issues in the global agenda and is proposing recognition of an international day of forests. We understand that more than 49 countries from all the regions celebrate a forest day annually and in most cases it is the 21st March for such celebrations. These events gather a lot of interests and are major tools to create public awareness particularly among the young generations. However, these actions are scattered and not coordinated at an international level.Considering the challenges posed by climate change, the need for conserving natural resources, rural development and income diversification for millions of rural households there is an obvious need to coordinate activities that take place in this area at the international level.In fact the issue of such a day was brought to the attention of the 16th session of the Conference in 1971 but remained as a recommendation item on the agenda since then.Now that climate change is one of our main challenges and this year is the Year of Forests we think it is the most appropriate time to act on this matter to initiate the process for including the international day of forests in the agenda of the UN calendar. This would facilitate coordination of the actions and more importantly strengthening of the impact of international efforts to promote forestry issues at national and global level. We are sure that this would increase public awareness and official actions for the conservation, development and utilization of forestry resources in a sustainable manner.Excellent activities are taking place at the moment all around the world to celebrate the International Year of Forests. But this international interest in forests should not diminish at the end of this year.Therefore we strongly support the idea of declaration of 21st March as the International Day of Forests in the UN calendar and request the FAO to take necessary actions in this regard. We propose that this is reflected in the report.http://www.gonder.org.tr/?p=1215

The official report for COFO 20 is here. COFO 20 Görev Raporu

In 2012, we participated to 21st Session of COFO. The 21st Session of COFO was organised in Rome, in 2012,  24-28 September. The web page dedicated to this event as follow http://www.fao.org/forestry/cofo2012/en/

After this session we prepared this post-mission report. http://www.cem.gov.tr/erozyon/Files/yayinlarimiz/COFO2013.pdf The relevant news published at the General Directorate of Combating Desertification as follow http://www.cem.gov.tr/erozyon/AnaSayfa/resimliHaber/14-10-24/FAO_Ormanc%C4%B1l%C4%B1k_Komitesi_Toplant%C4%B1s%C4%B1_G%C3%B6rev_Raporu_Yay%C4%B1mland%C4%B1.aspx?sflang=tr

Full report of COFO21 is here COFO 21 Görev Raporu

During this session, together with official plenary meetings I participated some side events like;

  • Extraordinary Session of the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions-Silva Mediterranea- sm-cofo22

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  • CPMF (Collaborative Partnership On Mediterranean Forest)
  • The Excellence Factor: Inspirational organizational innovations


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  • Building Resilient Forest Landscapes Resilient to Global Change in Drylands
  • Side-event on the third Mediterranean Forest Week (III MFW)

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ın 2014, we participated to the 22nd Session of COFO, 23-27 June 2014. The web page dedicated for this session is here http://www.fao.org/forestry/57758/en/

The invitation letter sent by FAO is here: COFO invitation to Belen


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During this session I made a speach about this evebt as the President of Silva mediterranean which can be found at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQfWY6OJyRE&feature=youtu.be

My intervention at the opening session of Committee on Forestry, 23 June 2014, is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9Eo0rc_v60&feature=youtu.be&t=45m45s


Statement of Mr. İsmail Belen,

Deputy Director General of  Combating Desertification and Erosion; President of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea.

Mr. Chairman,

Excellences’, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of Turkish Delegation I would like extend our gratitude to the Bureau and the secretariat for their valuable work in the preparations for this COFO22/4TH WFW session.  I also thank to the Key Note Speakers of Belgium, Chad, Korea, UN DESA, AGRICORD and FAO.

Mr. Chairman,

During COFO 22 we will all have a chance to find solutions and actions to emerging political and technical issues related to the forests. When we look over the agenda, among other very well selected agenda items, we are pleased with laying emphasis particularly on the Enhancing the socioeconomic benefits from forests , the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and Enhancing FAO Work on Dry land Forests.


These topics are also interrelated and we believe that the more we put forward the basic human needs met and the improvements in the quality of lives of the people received from forests, the more the visibility of the sector regarding sustainable development and therefore the political support will increase.

In this context the potential role of the forests in green economy and recognizing the forests’ contributions to poverty reduction needs to be strongly highlighted. For the sake of the society and the forestry, we must put people at the center of the development of forest related policies and recognize the ways people benefit from the forests. Changing society’s perception on forests which is another important matter that we must focus on and those changing needs of the society must be well understood, directed and satisfied by the forest sector.

Mr. Chairman,

COFO 22 will provide us an opportunity for recognizing the full spectrum of the social, economic and environmental contributions of forests to sustainable development and reflecting them in post 2015 development agenda. In this regard the forestry community must collaborate and take an active role in the General Assembly during the negotiations of the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is in our hands and to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals include forests in a holistic way.

Mr. Chairman,

We are also pleased with considering FAO’s programme priorities for forestry in light of the Organization’s new Strategic Framework. We give great importance on FAO’s leadership role in the CPF (Collaborative Partnership on Forests) and CPF has to be strengthened regarding its potential roles on forest issues in the UN system.

We are pleased with the new Strategic Framework which was prepared taking into account of the current trends and emerging issues and allowing FAO to work in a multi-disciplinary and integrated manner.

FAO must continue to play its leading role on forestry in the international arena. And we, the Member States, have responsibilities for shaping its priorities and the achievement of FAO’s strategic objectives.  Recognizing the leading role of FAO on forestry, Turkey has been working with FAO in Central Asia and Caucasus with the help of FAOSEC, in Near East Region with the help of Near East Forestry and Rangeland Commission, in Europe with the help of European Forestry Commission.  With the help of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea, a statutory body of FAO, we have been able to work in Mediterranean region which has members from Europe, Africa and Near East.

Like as it was before, Turkey will keep on working in partnership with FAO. In this regard we have just signed two new agreements, at the 4th of June 2014, just three weeks before, on partnership programme with FAO on forestry and agriculture. Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency, TİKA, also signed an agreement with FAO.

Mr. Chairman,

Excellences’, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Turkey, we believe that, together with other aspects, dry land forests, restoration of degraded landscapes, combating desertification are very important for us especially arid and semiarid areas countries.  In this regard I am very glad to announce that, the Conference of the Parties of UNCCD will be organized in Turkey in 2015 together with the Secretariat of UNCCD.

Using this opportunity I would like to invite all of you to take note of this Conference and I look forward seeing you in Turkey.

Thank you.





Statement of Mr. Ismail Belen Deputy Director General of  Combating Desertification and Erosion; President of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea

Mr. Chairman,Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all recognize that forests are crucial for sustainable development as a renewable natural resources. In this regard the forestry community must collaborate and take an active role in the General Assembly during the negotiations of the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We need to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals include forests in a holistic way.

We have concerns that the full spectrum of the social, economic and environmental benefits of forests are not properly reflected in the “Zero Draft”. Forests are not just a threatened natural resource and we should include the full potential of forests’ contributions to sustainable development.

When we look through the proposed goal 15 of the “Zero Draft”, first we notice that the title does not include “forests”. If forests are to be hosted in a single SDG with biodiversity, there must be a special sub-section focusing on the forests. Also the targets should be identified specific for forests and those targets should reflect the social, environmental and economic aspects. Especially forest’s contribution to a green economy and the socioeconomic contributions of forests must be included and made visible. If possible, we should also integrate the contributions of forests under the other goals that could include forest relevant issues.

Mr. Chairman,

Turkey also gives great importance on improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments and therefore appreciates the work done by Mountain Partnership (MP) so far.

Turkey and other Mountain Partnership (MP) members are also concerned that the current SDG working document does not mention mountains enough and recognize their economic importance to sustainable development.

We tried hard to highlight during the Open Working Group discussions requesting attention to mountain ecosystems and made interventions targeting mountains with other countries.This strong call is however still not reflected in the current “Zero Draft”.

Mr. Chairman,

Another important point is organizing, coordinating and joining our forces during the discussions of the Zero Draft in OWG and the General Assembly. We believe that, during these negotiations of the SDGs, establishing a communication platform between CPF and the National representatives will be very useful. The process is in our hands and Turkey is ready and committed for taking active role in this respect.

Yesterday we had a side event on Sustainable Development Goals and we had a chance to discuss the future of the negotiations of the SDGs.In the light of this side event and fruitful discussions made, we would like to propose sending a strong message from COFO on including the contributions of “forests” and “mountains” to sustainable development in the “Zero Draft”.

Mr. Chairman,

Regarding the proposed goal 15 on ecosystems and biodiversity, we would like to propose changing the chapeau and targets.

The proposed text will read as follows;

Proposed goal 15.Enhance sustainable management of forests, rangelands, mountains, land and other terrestrial ecosystems and halt all biodiversity loss

15.1 By 2030, ensure sustainable management of all types of forests and trees outside forests, as well as sustainable mountains development;

15.2 By 2030 reverse the loss of and enhance forest cover worldwide and increase the socio-economicbenefits generated by forests, including through increased protection, afforestation and reforestation including by providing adequate incentives for developing countries.

15.3 By 2030 halt the loss of all biodiversity and protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

15.4 By 2030, halt and prevent land degradation, reclaim land affected by desertification and drought, and improve land productivity and soil quality, with a particular focus on drylands.

Thank you for your consideration.



Statement of Mr. Ismail Belen Deputy Director General of  Combating Desertification and Erosion; President of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea

Turkey aligns itself with the European Union statement on agenda item 6.4.

As Turkey, we are supporting the Forest Landscape Restoration Mechanism and invite them  to work with close cooperation the UNCCD, working group on Desertification and Restoration and Degraded Ecosystems in Arid Zones” established under  the committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silve Mediterranean and Mediterranean Model Forest Network and the Tehran Process for Low Forest Cover Countries.

Turkey is also glad to inform you that, via the ministry of Forestry and Water affairs and TIKA, we supported the preparation of the FAO Global Guidelines on Restoration of Forest Landscape and Degraded Lands “.

So we kindly invite countries to take into account this mechanism when they make their activities.

We also support the idea that restoration of degraded lands should be an important element of GEF STAR allocations and GEF6.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Turkey aligns itself with the European Union statement on agenda item 6.5.

Besides, we would like to give special emphasis on international year of forest and thanks to Algerian colleagues during the negotiations in General Assembly of UN. Turkey, we are pleased for hosting the first Mediterranean forest week.  Regarding forest communication we think that private sector, non forest producers and children.

As final words, as Turkey, we are supporting the role of communication in proportioning forests issues request for to continue supporting the the regional forest communication networks.

Thank you.



Statement of Mr. Ismail Belen, Deputy Director General of  Combating Desertification and Erosion; President of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates,

Turkey aligns itself with the European Union statement on the Agenda Item 6.7 “Progress in Statutory Bodies and Key Partnerships”

Besides these stated by the EU, Turkey would like to give special emphasizes on;

For Annex I.we think that supporting small scale forestry enterprises like sawmill and others dealing with  non-wood forest  products should be one the main elements of Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest-Based Industries.

For Annex II on Development in Forestry Education and Research, we recognize the importance of forestry education and researches and would like share that we have 12 Forestry Faculty under the Board of Higher Education and 12 research institutes for implementation under the Ministry of Forests and Water Affaires. So as it was mentioned paragraph 9 “Forestry Collage Deans’ Meeting”, in Turkey , the Deans and Forestry Managers as well as the Research Institutes having regular meetings. Currently we are trying to organize meetings with Deans, Researchers and Private Sector as well as NGO’s.  As the Ministry we supported International Forestry Students’ Association.

For Annex III on the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea,  Turkey is chairing this Committee from the beginning of 2012 to 2016. In my capacity as the President of this Committee and on behalf of Turkey, I would like to thank all our partners and we welcome to;

  • The First Edition of the State of Mediterranean Forest,
  • We support to Strategic Framework on Mediterranean Forests, Strategic Lines and the Tlemcen Declaration.

Using this opportunity I would like to inform you distinguished delegates, tomorrow morning, at the 27th of June, Friday, between 09:30-12:30 at Iran Room, we are going to have the Extraordinary Session of the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions-Silva Mediterranea.

I kindly invite the member states delegations from Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran , Iraq , Israel , Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and as the  member organization the European Union.

Having been established by the Europe, Near East and Africa Forestry Commissions; Silva Mediterranea is the stator body of FAO for Mediterranean area countries. We recognize that other countries contain Med Climate Areas (MCA)  and welcome Australia, South Africa, Chile, the US (California) and other countries with MCA to attend the Meeting we are going to organize tomorrow and share their thoughts with us.

As the final word, as the President of this Committee, I would like to thank to French Government and their representatives for their support to the Silva Mediterranean Secretariat.

For Annex VI on Mountain Partnership we were glad to host the Mountain Partnership’s Fourth Global Meeting in Erzurum, Turkey 2013 and we strongly support the proposal that the mountains and dray lands must be included into Sustainable Development Goals as we indicated during Agenda Item 5.1. Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals.

We also believe that:

  • Item 5.1. Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals ,
  • Item 5.3. The Zero Illegal Deforestation Challenge
  • Item 6.4. Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism
  • Item 7.2. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the Climate Summit
  • Item 7.3b. Enhancing FAO Work on Dryland Forests

Should be considered and evaluated together in a holistic way like you the Secretariat already did.


Thank you for your consideration.


Statement of Mr. İsmail Belen: Deputy Director General of  Combating Desertification and Erosion; President of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea,

Distinguish Participant,

On behalf of myself and my colleagues from Turkey, and in my capacity of President of Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions- Silva Mediterranea, I would like to thank FAO and other representatives to give this opportunity on the occasion of such a nice events.

Having assumed responsibility of tackling desertification and land degradation  challenges in drylands at both national and international levels, I can say that my country is strongly engaged and already supporting technically and financially in contributing to other countries’ development efforts and  increase cooperation withneighboring countries and international agenciessuch as FAO.

One recent development is that FAO and the Government of Turkey have signed an “FAO-Turkey Forestry Partnership Program (FTFP)”  in June 2014, to work with countries from Central Asia as well as neighboring countries. The objective of this program is to enhance technical assistance through south-south cooperation and sharing Turkish forestry experience and improve international cooperation capacity of the Ministry.

So far, FAO and Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs of Turkey have conducted different forestry projects and initiatives on different issues. The Ministry and TIKA (the Turkish International Cooperation Agency) contributed financial support to the development of the “FAO GLOBAL GUIDELINES ON RESTORATION OF FOREST LANDSCAPES AND DEGRADED LANDS IN DRYLANDS” to be published very soon.

We are very happy of being part of this initiative and will continue to support their dissemination and implementation of the ground through field programmes.

TIKA is the main international cooperation agency of the Government of Turkeyand is supporting knowledge and experience sharing, in the fields of education, health, restoration, forestry and agricultural development, finance, tourism, and industry with approximately 100 countries from the Pacific to the Central Asia, from the Middle-East and Africa to the Balkans and from Caucasia to South America.

Within this context, I would like to share another good news that TIKA has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding at global level supporting FAO’s mission in least developed countries and developing countries, which can be considered also as a great opportunity for future activities.

Under Silva Mediterranea, Turkey is leading the establishment of a thematic working group on “Desertification And Restoration Of Degraded Forest Ecosystems In Arid Zones”.

Apart from this one, We think that establishing a “Working Group On Dryland Forests And Agrosilvopastoral Systems” under COFO would be necessary as it will benefit other dryland countries beyond the Mediterranean region and opens a wider scope for cooperation with FAO support between drylands countries and regions (including: Africa, Latin America, etc.) This idea is already included to the “COFO Agenda Item 7.3b. Enhancing FAO Work on Dryland Forests” which  will be discussed tomorrow.

This working group could facilitate dialogue among countries and identify key areas of work and boost global engagement and commitment.

We think that this working group could work very close cooperation with UNCCD and the next Conference of the Parties of UNCCD to be organized in Turkey next year in 2015, could be an excellent platform for a preparatory meeting to discuss modalities and details of the working group.

In line with all improvements, as a representative of Turkey and president of Silva Med, I am pleased to say that Turkey is ready to share its expertise and experience gained on dryland management with Central Asian Countries, African and neighboring countries.

Moreover, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to the next COP session of the UNCCD that will be hosted by my country in 2015.

Before ending my words, I would like to reiterate once again, to FAO to give this opportunity, and other partners for their valuable and remarkable supports, contribution and participation.

Thank you.


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