STATEMENT AT THE NATIONAL
TREE PLANTING CEREMONY
7 March 2016
UN Resident Coordinator a.i.
Dr Qalibaf, Mayor of Tehran,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives immense pleasure to be here this morning to extend, on behalf of the United Nations family in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is well-represented by my esteemed colleagues present at this event, our profound recognition and appreciation to the Municipality of Tehran for having organized this tree planting ceremony.
In participating in the symbolic ritual of bestowing trees back to nature, we are afforded an occasion to reflect upon the significance of the role of trees and forests in our lives, in promoting sustainable development and, by doing so, in safeguarding the future of the planet upon which we live for the generations to come.
The impacts of the world population growth, urbanization, consumption patterns and climate change are manifest in the widespread degradation of land and natural resources and also in ever-increasing poverty. Trees can help solve these problems because of their ability to restore degraded ecosystems, produce food and medicine, and provide environmental and economic benefits.
Trees and Forests have a significant role in reducing the risk of natural disasters, including floods, droughts, landslides and other extreme events. At global level, forests mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air and protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.
Investing in forests and forestry represent an investment in people and their livelihoods, especially the rural poor, youth and women. Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend on forests for their livelihood.
Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.
Trees outside forests (TOFs) will have an increasing role in reducing degradation and poverty and will assist in sustainable development.
Experts estimate that some 200 million hectares of new trees must be planted during the next ten years if developing countries are to meet their people's needs for tree products. Much of the work must be done by the rural people themselves. Social forestry which involves the local people in growing trees for their own use, is a critical factor in the lives of most rural people today.
To address these challenges, we have to strive to ensure the successful implementation of sustainable programmes for the development of communities, trees and the environment in which people live.
Therefore, the future of forests and forestry in sustainable development at all levels was at the core of the XIV World Forestry, hosted in Durban from 7 to 11 September 2015. The Durban Declaration called for new partnerships among forest, agriculture, finance, energy, water and other sectors, as well the engagement with indigenous people and local community.
The importance of investing in world’s forests and of taking “political commitment at the highest levels, smart policies, effective law enforcement, innovative partnerships and funding” was also recalled by the UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon in his Message on the occasion of the 2015 International Day of Forests.
In light of these reasons, and more, saving trees and forests are an integral part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which came in to effect 1st of January 2016. Sustainable Development Goal 15 aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.
This global goal will assist UN member states, including Iran, in guiding decisions regarding this invaluable natural resource over the next fifteen years and to retain our focus on the environment and the need to think and act “green”.
This tree planting ceremony portrays the effort and the commitment of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in recognizing the need to be green and in safeguarding the country’s biodiversity as well as the natural resources of its environment.
The timing of this event – in my opinion – could not have been more perfect. I am referring to Nowruz being just around the corner.
Celebrating Nowruz means the affirmation of life in harmony with nature, awareness of the inseparable link between constructive labour and natural cycles of renewal and a solicitous and respectful attitude towards natural sources of life.
I would like to thank once again the organizers and also wish to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you – on behalf of the United Nations – joy, peace, prosperity, friendship and harmony with nature.
Har roozetan Nowruz – Nowruzetan Pirooz! Thank you.