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Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests
Photos and RealAudio of 1 February
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1 February:

On the second day of IFF-4, delegates met in Plenary to consider international arrangements and mechanisms to promote the management, conservation and sustainable developments of all types of forests (Category III).

From left to right: Jag Maini, Coordinator and Head of the IFF Secretariat; Co-chairs Ristimäki and Asadi; and Alexander De Barros (Secretariat).

Jag Maini, IFF Secretariat, overviewed the Secretary-General's Report on Category III (E/CN.17/IFF/2000/4) and two Secretariat notes: priority forest policy issues (E/CN.17/IFF/2000/2); and elements and functions for a future international arrangement and mechanism (E/CN.17/IFF/2000/3). On international arrangements and mechanisms (IAM), the report identifies four principle functions that an IAM could perform: policy development, coordination, policy implementation and provision of legislative authority. The report puts forward ten options for an IAM ranging from ongoing ad hoc intergovernmental forest policy deliberations through to negotiating a new LBI on all types of forests.

RealAudio excerpts: Part one  Part two

NIGERIA, speaking for the G-77/CHINA, said any IAM should be comprehensive, holistic and inclusive of all issues relating to forests. He stressed that an IAM should specifically address technology transfer and focus on major issues that undermine SFM, such as inadequate financial resources and lack of market access for goods from developing countries. He supported an action-oriented, permanent dialogue and provision of new and additional financial resources
PORTUGAL, on behalf of the EU, supported an institutionalized and permanent arrangement, which is action-oriented and focused on implementation and monitoring. He said that although the EU has supported a LBI, it remains open-minded to the form of a future arrangement. He said the CSD must be presented with a concrete recommendation with a strict timetable for implementation.
<< While stating that a LBI is necessary in the long-term, COSTA RICA acknowledged the lack of political support for such a mechanism and thus advocated a transitional arrangement. He proposed establishing an under secretary-general on forests to, inter alia, guarantee an ongoing dialogue, establish necessary coordination mechanisms, create a special intergovernmental commission to identify the scope of a LBI and establish a forest fund.
CANADA expressed support for negotiating a framework convention on forests or a LBI. He remarked that a forest convention would ensure sustained partnership, political commitment, policy development, implementation and compliance, and said commitments would be balanced with the provision of technology transfer and funding for implementation. He said Canada would submit a draft resolution for the CSD >>
 << AUSTRALIA proposed a non-binding, permanent arrangement that would include: a multi-year work programme to implement SFM; a transparent forum to provide assessment on progress; funding and administrative arrangements similar to those of the IPF and IFF; coordination of forest-related work of international organizations; promotion of regional initiatives; continuation of policy dialogue; facilitation of trade and market access; and continued work on certification and labeling, consistent with WTO obligations.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION (on the left) supported a LBI and emphasized the need to establish problem-solving arrangements. He said failure to reach agreement at IFF-4 might permanently compromise the international forest dialogue >>
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA (right) noted the lack of time to merge divergent views and therefore said the IFF should formulate the basic functions and modalities of the future IAM but not commit to a particular IAM before CSD-8 >>

International Alliance of Indigenous peoples of Tropical Forests underscored the importance of recognizing and strengthening indigenous peoples' rights to land, language, identity and culture by preserving and protecting forests. He warned there would be no future for forests should commercialization and exploitation continue.  
GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT discouraged establishment of another IFF and urged delegates to provide details on their IAM proposals.

Side-event: Low Forest Cover Countries and the Tehran Process
Delegates attended a lunchtime briefing on the International Meeting of Experts on Special Needs and Requirements of Developing Countries with Low Forest Cover and Unique Types of Forests which took place in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, from 4-8 October 1999. Dr. T. Shamekhi, Professor of Karaj Natural Resource College at Tehran University and Chair of the Meeting (shown here on the right), highlighted conclusions and recommendations from the meeting. Participants had agreed on the need to: define the term low forest cover country (LFCC); develop policy and institutions to adequately address LFCCs; transfer technology to LFCC countries to enable reforestation; and develop funding for the forestry sector. The major outcome of the Expert Meeting was the Tehran Declaration which established the Tehran Process, an ongoing process designed to bring together LFCCs to address common needs.

Side-event: The Costa Rica / Canada Initiative
 A side event on the Costa Rica/Canada Initiative (CRCI) was chaired by Denis Chouinard Tuesday evening. He explained that more than 40 countries and organizations participated in the Initiative, whose purpose was to consider options for and to identify elements of future international instruments for the conservation and protection of forests. Co-Chair Luis Rojas Bolanus made an overview of the Initiative, and Co-Chair Jacques Carette presented the results of the10 international meetings that involved over 600 experts.
He noted that the CRCI process has improved understanding of forest-related issues and has facilitated a frank and transparent exchange of views and information. As a result, consensus emerged on the following points: forest issues are not being adequately addressed; the need for an action-oriented approach is imperative; existing instruments have unfulfilled potential; and there is increased willingness to consider a new legally binding instrument on forests. For more information:
CRCI web site: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/cfs/crc
Sustainable Development's Coverage of the Final meeting of the CRCI Initiative: http://enb.iisd.org/crs/crci/final

In the corridors: 

While a number of countries have maintained support for a LBI on forests, the two principal models for an ongoing non-legally binding institution on forests proposed by various delegations have stimulated discussion. The model for a body under the UN General Assembly appears to receive support from countries who want a high-level institution, but others are concerned that such an institution would exclude input from major groups. Others prefer an institution under the CSD, which would be more transparent and participatory but faces concerns that such an organization may not have high political commitment.
<< In the Corridors: ENB writer Laura Ivers consulting yet another forum participant (in this case, Bill Mankin of the Global Forest Policy Project)

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