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Fiji National Statement at the 16th session of the United Nations Forest Forum

Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen 

Ni Sa Bula Vinaka 

On behalf of the Government of Fiji, I thank the Secretariat for its efforts in support of preparations towards this session of UN Forest Forum in a crucial year. 

Forests are at the center-stage of building back greener; building forward and building more inclusively efforts of the Fijian Government. Fiji welcomes and supports wholeheartedly the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. Forests must play a far greater role in enhancing human well-being; driving post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery; and accelerating our SDG efforts overall. 

Fiji is well on its path to achieving its 30 million trees launched in 2019 in 15 year target within a few more years. We have already crossed the 6 million mark in less than 2 years. A National reforestation and Afforestation Guideline will help us improve the science, technology and bring the best of global learning to enhance the protection of our biodiversity, and to help is to adopt a landscape approach to forest restoration and rehabilitation and to fundamentally transform and strengthen livelihoods of local communities that are dependent on forests and mangroves.  

The 30 Million initiative is integrating forest-based action across climate smart land-use practices such as agroforestry, biofuel plantations and extending mangrove forest cover for mitigation of climate change impacts. All of these contribute to an inclusive and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these are a part our national efforts to achieve our net zero carbon targets before 2050.   

Fiji is currently undertaking a National Forest Inventory to update the status of Fiji’s Forests. This is important to improving our decision making. This is important for ensuring sustainable management of our forests.  Fiji will continue to strengthen forestry capacity, its monitoring, its multidimensional forest assessment capabilities and significantly improving the reporting to the Global Forest Resource Assessment Reporting. Fiji will continue to invest in our young to build the range of forestry related human resources capacities. We welcome and are very open to more partnerships in this area.  

Fiji submitted its enhanced NDC to the UNFCCC Secretariat on 31 December 2020. We have raised our green ambition. We have raised our blue ambition. The updated NDC reaffirms Fiji’s commitment to a whole of society and economy-wide approach to zero carbon future. To get there, we have introduced clear  targets for “conserving the natural environment and biodiversity wealth enabling sustainable long-term provision of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration potential” and the target “to plant 30 million trees by 2030”. This is a reflection of the forestry sector’s role in both emissions reduction and in strengthening climate change adaptation and resilience.  

Fiji’s Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) maps out a low carbon pathway for each of its sectors and serves to operationalise the NDC. The LEDS elaborates four possible low emission scenarios for each sector including electricity and other energy use, land transport, domestic maritime transport, domestic air transport, agriculture, forestry and other land use, coastal wetlands, and waste. The integration of the blue and green sectors – our forests and our oceans; the two lungs of the planet into a single unified strategy and approach is a leap in both imagination and is also a well-grounded approach to implementation of our programs.  

Fiji’s Climate Change Bill has integrated the Fiji’s Forestry Bill and its Oceans Policy. This integration will ensure a robust legal infrastructure that will underpin forest sector climate initiatives including carbon markets and carbon trading. We are preparing a strong legal foundation for this. 

Such an infrastructure is also necessary given the land tenure system in Fiji where almost 90% of land is communally owned; legally protected by the iTaukei (–indigenous) Fijians. Fiji’s approach to the protection and sustainable management of forests and to biodiversity protection is fundamentally linked to the protection and advancement of indigenous communities.  

Chair, in 2021 Fiji formally entered into a landmark agreement with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership housed at the World Bank. This partnership will unlock up to US$12.5 million (approx. FJ$26 million) in results-based payments for increasing carbon sequestration and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.  This makes Fiji the first small island developing state to sign an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the FCPF. 

The five-year agreement is part of Fiji’s ambitious emission reductions program where Fiji will establish and designate areas of forests as carbon stocks capable of sequestering 2.5 million tons of carbon and other greenhouse gases and reduce emissions over the next 5-years. We want to and we will go further. 

The Emissions Reduction Payment Agreement serves to not only contribute to global emissions reduction efforts but is an economic incentive to increase and protect forest cover and enhance biodiversity across our small islands. More important than this is the lesson we are learning – protection and conservation makes solid economic sense. Our approach to forest protection and sustainable management of forests is enhancing  livelihoods for our local communities – across so many of our 300 plus islands. Our approach to protection of our forests and biodiversity is improving the well-being and livelihoods of women. 

The global economic crisis due to the COVID pandemic has seriously affected Fiji’s economy, completely shutting down the tourism sector the largest economic contributor. Fijians are increasingly turning to cash crop farming to supplement income, and this increases the threat of forest clearance and to forest biodiversity. This is a reminder that the environmental and biodiversity impacts of the COVID crisis can be significant if not managed well. The pandemic reminds us of the need to balance economic demands and ecological needs. 

We are turning the crisis into an opportunity. COVID has seen a surge in innovative entrepreneurs, some of whom have taken to reviving traditional crafting made from forest products for their income. The role wild forest foods play in strengthening food security was also recognised during the pandemic as families struggle with income losses. If upscaled, the market diversification of forest products can support recovery efforts with benefits directly reaching those who need it the most - local communities; and especially women in local communities. Both protection and food security can go hand in hand. This is an important reminder and one that we bring onto the centre stage in how we look at our forests as we build forward and build greener. 

The pandemic has caused a tremendous strain across our SDG’s; including the achievement of our forest goals. Greater attention to the implementation of Global Forest Goal 4 and its associated targets is required through vastly increased forestry financing. Fiji looks forward to UN’s leadership on this and to working with our development partners on this. 

Chair, we have said a number of times, that the cost of sustainable management of forests are already high in small island states. The UNFF and the UN system must give this challenge the sufficient level of attention that it deserves. There is a need for far greater global cooperation and collaboration to develop funding mechanisms that are more targeted and more responsive to the capacity pressures and the high costs that small states like Fiji face.  


Fiji has faced both the climate and COVID crisis in parallel. We have faced our worst pandemic and one of the worst years for climate catastrophes over the same period. But we have also seen how well our community forests have served us during our cyclone recovery. Fallen trees have given so many communities the timber that they needed to rebuild their homes, their schools and their health clinics. Turning fallen trees into timber have given us jobs and cash incomes that was such a significant part of the recovery from 3 cyclones we have faced over the last 14 months.    


Effective means of implementation is vital in achieving key challenges faced by Small Island Developing States including the important role that regional and sub-regional processes play. Regional and sub regional processes are important in helping us to nationalise the Global Forest Goals and are helpful in improving the implementation of the UNFF Strategic Plan. We hope these regional efforts will continue to be supported. 

Healthy forests are vital to addressing many pandemic-induced challenges. Fiji firmly  renews its commitment to sustainable management practices, to implementing all its internationally agreed forest related goals; and to ensuring that forest protection and sustainable management have a far more important role to play in creating jobs; and expanding livelihoods.  

To conclude Chair, 

Fiji will continue to support the work of UNFF, especially in the integration of sustainable forest management into COVID-19 pandemic recovery plans and maintain its efforts towards the achievement of the 6 Global Forest Goals and its associated targets.

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