The Third Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe (INC-Forests3) convened from 28 January – 1 February 2013 in Antalya, Turkey. The five-day session was attended by 150 participants, including delegates from 35 governments and the European Union (EU), and observers from the government of Japan and 18 regional and international organizations, producer associations and non-governmental organizations. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization serves as the Secretariat during sessions of INC-Forests, assisted by the European Forest Institute and the Liaison Unit Madrid of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (FOREST EUROPE).
INC-Forests3: continued to revise draft negotiating text for a legally binding agreement (LBA) as revised by INC-Forests2 in September 2012, particularly the preamble, principles, objective, general provisions and compliance sections; considered the outcome of intersessional work undertaken by an expert meeting on key terms and definitions; and addressed a paper on the implications of various options for bringing the LBA “under the United Nations umbrella,” which was produced by independent consultants at the Chair’s request. INC-Forests3 completed a second reading and most of a third reading of the draft LBA, working primarily in plenary. Two working groups were established and convened on Wednesday to focus on compliance and whether to bring the LBA under the UN umbrella. Informal contact groups convened in evenings and during lunch and dinner breaks.
On Friday afternoon, 1 February, INC-Forests3 was suspended. This followed a decision to reconvene INC-Forests3 from 3-5 April 2013 in Saint Petersburg, the Russian Federation, in order to have additional time to complete key tasks before the convening of the last INC-Forests session, allowed under its mandate, to be held in June in Warsaw, Poland. These key tasks include: the decision on whether to bring the LBA under the UN umbrella; initiating legal scrutiny of the final clauses; negotiating financial and compliance provisions; and deciding on the roadmap for negotiations from Saint Petersburg to the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference slated for late 2013 in Madrid, Spain, where the results of the negotiations will be presented to ministers for possible adoption and opening for signature.
This summary highlights the negotiations conducted during this portion of INC-Forests3.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF INC-FORESTS
The INC-Forests process was launched by the 2011 FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, held in Oslo, Norway (Oslo 2011). FOREST EUROPE is a high-level political initiative that was founded in 1990 to work towards the protection and sustainable management of forests throughout Europe. Forty-six European countries and the EU, in cooperation with a range of international organizations, participate in FOREST EUROPE.
Strasbourg 1990: The first Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe took place in Strasbourg, France, on 18 December 1990. Recognizing increasing threats to European forests and the need for cross-border protection, participants agreed to initiate scientific and technical cooperation within Europe. They adopted a general declaration and six resolutions on: a European network of permanent sample plots for monitoring forest ecosystems; conservation of forest genetic resources; a decentralized European Data Bank on forest fires; adaptation of mountain forest management to new environmental conditions; expansion of the EUROSILVA Network of Research on Tree Physiology; and a European network for research on forest ecosystems.
Helsinki 1993: The second Ministerial Conference was held in Helsinki, Finland, from 16-17 June 1993. Building on the Strasbourg resolutions and responding to many of the forest-related decisions adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, participants adopted a general declaration and four resolutions on: general guidelines for sustainable forest management (SFM) in Europe; general guidelines for conserving the biodiversity of European forests; forestry cooperation with countries with economies in transition; and strategies for a process of long-term adaptation of forests to climate change.
Lisbon 1998: The third Ministerial Conference was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 2-4 June 1998. The Conference focused on the socioeconomic aspects of SFM and affirmed outcomes of the Helsinki follow-up process. Participants adopted a general declaration and two resolutions on: people, forests and forestry – enhancement of socioeconomic aspects of SFM; and pan-European criteria, indicators and operational level guidelines for SFM.
Vienna 2003: The fourth Ministerial Conference took place in Vienna, Austria, from 28-30 April 2003. Conference participants adopted the Vienna Living Forest Summit Declaration “European Forests – Common Benefits, Shared Responsibilities,” and five resolutions on: strengthening synergies for SFM in Europe; enhancing the economic viability of SFM; preserving and enhancing the social and cultural dimensions of SFM; conserving and enhancing forest biodiversity; and addressing climate change and SFM in Europe.
Warsaw 2007: The fifth Ministerial Conference was held in Warsaw, Poland, from 5-7 November 2007. At the Conference, a proposal was tabled to begin a process for exploring the possibility of a LBA on forests in Europe. This resulted in the establishment of two working groups. The first working group was mandated to explore the potential added value of a LBA and possible options for such an agreement. The second working group was tasked with preparing options for a decision on a possible LBA and producing a non-paper setting out such options.
Oslo 2011: The sixth Ministerial Conference was held in Oslo, Norway, from 14-16 June 2011. The Conference adopted the Oslo Ministerial Mandate for Negotiating a LBA on Forests in Europe (the Oslo Mandate), under which the FOREST EUROPE signatories decided to take further international action on forests through the elaboration of a LBA, and established the INC to develop this agreement. Although rooted within FOREST EUROPE (through the Oslo Mandate), the INC is an independent process. Under its mandate, the INC should complete its work by 30 June 2013, and present its results to a FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference that will take place within six months of the conclusion of the negotiations. Oslo 2011 also adopted the “Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020,” which outlines a vision, goals, targets and actions for Europe’s forests.
INC-Forests1: INC-Forests1 was held from 27 February to 2 March 2012 in Vienna, Austria. It focused on providing guidance to the INC Bureau to elaborate the initial draft negotiating text of the agreement. During the session, the INC considered a “Non-paper on a Possible LBA on Forests in Europe,” and discussed the possible structure of such an agreement. It established a roadmap for the negotiations and requested the INC Bureau to develop the first draft of a negotiating text.
INC-Forests2: INC-Forests2 was held from 3-7 September 2012 in Bonn, Germany, and undertook a first reading of the LBA draft negotiating text. A revised text incorporating proposals by delegates and observers was considered by the two sessional working groups, which addressed general provisions, compliance, procedures and final clauses. INC-Forests2 discussed terms and definitions and agreed on a list of those deemed essential for the LBA, and indicated that some intersessional work might be required on definitions. INC-Forests2 revised the roadmap for the negotiation process and intersessional work.
Country-Led Initiative Expert Meeting on Terms and Definitions: During INC-Forests2, Spain offered to host an expert meeting to consider in detail the terms and definitions needed for the LBA. Held from 27-28 November 2012 in Madrid, participants at the meeting examined the list of terms discussed during INC-Forests2 and recommended those they deemed essential for a final LBA text, along with suggested definitions. They also determined which terms did not require definitions, and elaborated a list of additional terms that they believed should be added to the section.
REPORT OF INC-FORESTS3
OPENING OF THE SESSION
On Monday, 28 January, the Third Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe (INC-Forests3) was opened by Jan Heino (Finland), Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC).
Ismail Üzmez, Deputy Director-General for Forestry, Turkey, stressed the priority of forestry and sustainable forest management (SFM) for Turkey, exemplified by its hosting of INC-Forests3 and the UN Forum on Forests in April 2013. He expressed Turkey’s hope that negotiations will result in a European agreement that will be accepted and enforced by all European countries and become a guiding and exemplary work in world forestry.
Chair Heino said that INC-Forests3 must finalize issues on which there has already been extensive discussions with broad agreement, discuss sufficiently those where no consensus has yet been reached, and resolve significant policy questions to enable further development of the text. He proposed that INC-Forests3 focus on: general provisions; compliance; finance; and institutional arrangements. He also highlighted the need for an initial discussion of the route beyond INC-Forests4 through to the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference to be held later in the year.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
The draft provisional agenda (Document 1/INC3) was adopted without amendment.
INC-Forests approved the list of four organizations seeking observer status: the Council of European Foresters; the Nature Conservation Centre (DKM), Turkey; the Forest Management Board, Kosovo; and Friends of the Earth Europe.
Chair Heino outlined the proposed organization of work (INF3/INC3) as: working paragraph-by-paragraph to finish the second reading of the draft negotiating text; discussing key outstanding issues through contact groups as needed; and convening two working groups on Wednesday to focus on the key issues of compliance and whether to bring the legally binding agreement (LBA) under the UN umbrella. Switzerland introduced a non-paper to reorganize the LBA text thematically. INC-Forests agreed to proceed initially with reading the text as organized, and consider a proposal by Switzerland after all delegations have had an opportunity to analyze it.
CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT NEGOTIATING TEXT
INC-Forests3 resumed the second reading of the draft negotiating text from INC-Forests2 (Document 2/INC3) on Monday in plenary where the negotiations in Bonn left off, namely the section on general provisions. The third reading began on Thursday, and by Friday, the INC had covered the preamble, objective, principles and general provisions.
Throughout the week, negotiators continued to use the negotiating text structure adopted at INC-Forests2, including sections on: preamble; terms and definitions; objective; principles; general provisions; rules, bodies and other procedures; and final clauses. The general provisions section was further broken down into thematic subsections organized with headings corresponding to the pan-European criteria on SFM adopted at FOREST EUROPE’s Helsinki Ministerial Conference (“Helsinki Criteria”).
PREAMBLE: The preamble provisions were addressed on Friday afternoon in plenary. Delegates provided proposals and agreed to most of the preambular paragraphs ad referendum.
The EU, supported by Ukraine, suggested recognizing that forests provide multiple economic, social, “cultural” and environmental benefits. Delegates agreed to this language ad referendum.
The EU, supported by Turkey, proposed, and delegates agreed, to incorporate a reference to being aware of forests’ role in combating desertification. On recognizing the importance of secure property and tenure rights and measures to ensure stakeholder participation in SFM, the EU proposed, and parties agreed, to secure “transparency” and “enable and encourage stakeholder participation and dialogue.” Opposed by Ukraine, the EU suggested deleting “the need to take measures to improve understanding and exchange of information between these stakeholders,” and the paragraph was agreed ad referendum.
On recognizing the importance of efficient measures to combat illegal logging and related trade and to promote sustainable production and consumption, the EU, supported by Norway and Switzerland, but opposed by Ukraine, preferred “to eliminate illegal harvesting of timber and associated trade and to promote sustainable consumption and production.” The latter reference was kept in brackets.
The EU, supported by the Russian Federation, proposed, and delegates agreed, to recall the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and “acknowledge its relevance in the context of implementing the agreement.”
On reaffirming commitments to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, the EU, supported by Norway and Switzerland, and opposed by Ukraine, suggested maintaining reference to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. However, Ukraine said it could agree to include reference to the Targets provided that commitments be “recalled” rather than “reaffirmed,” which Norway opposed. The terms “recalling” and “reaffirming” and the reference to the Aichi Targets were kept in brackets.
On recognizing the need to establish a LBA to ensure or reinforce SFM, ensure multifunctionality of forests, and complement existing international, regional and subregional agreements, delegates supported language on recognizing the need to “avoid fragmentation of forest-related policies.” The paragraph was agreed ad referendum.
The EU bracketed the entire preambular section.
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS: In Wednesday morning’s plenary, Spain introduced the results of the Country-Led Initiative (CLI) Expert Meeting on Terms and Definitions held in Madrid in November 2012 (Document INF2/INC3), highlighting key terms identified in the expert meetings, including: “forests,” “forest ecosystem services,” “goods and services,” “afforestation,” “forest restoration” and “forest fragmentation.” Delegates agreed to use the outcome of the CLI meeting as a basis for negotiations for this section, together with the existing definitions in the draft text.
Ukraine proposed, and delegates agreed, to delete language on text referring to international definitions usually used for reporting on forests.
Norway, opposed by the Russian Federation and Turkey, supported a unified definition for “forests,” suggesting use of the definition of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a minimum standard. The EU expressed concern that some countries do not define forests in their national legal framework. The resulting draft text states that the definition of “forests” is specific to each national territory and defined in national forests legislation.
Ukraine and the EU requested the definition of “goods and services” be left in brackets pending a decision on the definition of “forest ecosystem services” and, with support from Iceland, proposed bracketing the definition of “afforestation” for further consideration.
Ukraine highlighted that the definition of “forest ecosystem services,” proposed by the Madrid Expert Meeting and preferred by Iceland and Switzerland, is the definition of “ecosystem services” as defined by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Ukraine proposed that forest ecosystem services be defined as “habitat forming, nature protection, recreational, aesthetic, and other forest capability used to meet society’s needs of society.” Delegates agreed to keep both definitions in brackets.
The EU and Ukraine supported changing “illegal logging” to “illegal harvesting,” and the Russian Federation proposed that “forest fragmentation” be qualified by “as defined in national legislation.”
Delegates agreed to the definition of “criteria for SFM” in the draft negotiating text and to delete definitions on “green economy,” “indicators on SFM” and “sustainable development.”
OBJECTIVE: During the third reading of the draft negotiating text on Thursday afternoon, INC-Forests3 considered the chapter on objectives.
The EU, supported by Switzerland, but opposed by Ukraine, suggested reinforcing and strengthening the implementation of SFM to ensure the long-term provision of a broad range of “products” rather than “goods.”
The EU, supported by Iceland and Turkey, proposed maintaining, protecting, restoring and enhancing forests “as well as their role in combating desertification.”
The EU, opposed by the Russian Federation, proposed ensuring that forests contribute to sustainable development “livelihoods.”
Paragraphs that were agreed to ad referendum address: enhancing the role of forests and forestry in solving global challenges; and providing a framework for fostering national actions and international cooperation.
PRINCIPLES: During the third reading of the draft negotiating text on Thursday afternoon, INC-Forests3 considered the chapter on principles. The EU proposed, and delegates agreed, to: “respect” rather than “be guided by” the agreement’s principles; include reference to “transparency” regarding enabling conditions for SFM; and delete language stating that balance among economic, social and environmental aspects is “based on broad consensus.”
Provisions that were agreed ad referendum include: that each party is responsible for SFM on its own territory and related policies, adequate to its national conditions and needs, while recognizing the shared interests and responsibilities concerning forests; active participation of forest owners and other stakeholders in developing and implementing policies; and cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination with different bodies.
GENERAL PROVISIONS: This section of the draft sets out the general obligations of parties. During plenary sessions held from Monday-Wednesday, INC-Forests3 worked through and completed a second reading of the general provisions section of the draft negotiating text, picking up where INC-Forests2 left off. Informal contact groups met to address and report back to plenary on particular issues in this section. INC-Forests3 worked through and completed the third reading of the section on general provisions on Thursday and Friday, agreeing ad referendum to a number of provisions. Delegates bracketed provisions, such as those on reporting, monitoring and compliance, which are contingent upon decisions in other areas of the agreement. Delegates also noted that clarification was required on: overall relationship of the agreement to other global conventions and agreements; Russian translation of certain terms; and the structure of the agreement.
Chapeau: In the third reading, INC-Forests3 agreed ad referendum to delete reference to the need for parties to qualify, as “national” and “collaborative,” measures to be taken by parties to ensure that SFM is implemented to achieve the agreement’s objective.
Delegates agreed to develop, implement and update national forest programmes “or equivalents as a tool for achieving the objectives and implementing the obligations” of the LBA, taking into account Vienna Resolution 1 (Strengthen Synergies for Sustainable Forest Management in Europe through Cross-Sectoral Co-Operation and National Forest Programmes) to enable public participation. The Russian Federation, the EU and Iceland urged language not be confined to Europe. INC-Forests3 agreed ad referendum to the proposal, adding that while implementing the agreement provisions, parties shall strengthen and enhance international, regional and cross-border cooperation, as well as avoid duplication of or overlap with the work of relevant international agreements.
Norway proposed, and INC-Forests3 agreed ad referendum, to focus on maintaining, strengthening and enabling conditions for long-term viability of SFM through, inter alia, investments and innovation.
An informal contact group proposed that indicators for monitoring and reporting SFM implementation be “elaborated by the COP.” The EU distinguished differences between reporting and monitoring, and along with the Russian Federation, supported parties’ presentations of the most recent national data in the framework of the FAO’s regular Global Forest Resources Assessment. Ukraine proposed focusing on monitoring the implementation of SFM, preferring that language on obligations to report the status and development of forests and progress in implementation be moved to the section on compliance. INC-Forests3 bracketed these paragraphs and noted agreement on them was contingent on compliance-related decisions.
Maintenance and enhancement of forest resources and the capacity of forests to contribute to global carbon cycles in accordance with international, regional and national obligations: Switzerland, supported by the Russian Federation and Ukraine, requested bracketing language on “in accordance with international, regional and national obligations” until the LBA’s future relationship with global conventions is clarified. INC-Forests 3 bracketed the EU’s proposal to merge paragraphs on the contribution of forests to global carbon cycles and enhancing carbon storage in forest products.
The EU, supported by the Russian Federation and Ukraine, proposed reflecting both positive and negative impacts of forest fragmentation. Norway, supported by Switzerland, Ukraine and Iceland, but opposed by the EU, proposed deleting reference to positive impacts of forest fragmentation. Ukraine, with the EU, suggested enhancing the connectivity of forests to achieve a more balanced approach and to reduce the negative impacts of fragmentation. The draft text as it stands contains a provision on maintaining the positive impacts of forest fragmentation, depending on national circumstances, and a bracketed provision on reducing the negative impacts of forest fragmentation, including through a balanced approach in land use planning and measures to enhance connectivity.
Maintenance of forest ecosystems’ health and vitality: The EU proposed, and delegates agreed, to maintain and enhance the health and vitality, as well as the protective and productive potential of forests and forest soils to provide “forest ecosystem” services. Turkey proposed including “strengthening the role of forests to combat desertification” in implementing measures to increase the resilience of forests to natural hazards, which remains in brackets.
Ukraine proposed monitoring forest pests, diseases and fires to combat “pest and disease outbreaks and fires in forests,” with Iceland highlighting the need for consistent reference to monitoring throughout the agreement.
Delegates agreed ad referendum to text on adapting forest management practice to changing climatic conditions, including through measures for: strengthening the adaptive capacity of forests; and reducing the vulnerability of forests.
Maintenance and encouragement of productive functions of forests (wood and non-wood): The EU, supported by Iceland and Switzerland, proposed moving text on “decent workplaces” from the section on developing and applying measures to increase the contribution of forests to sustainable development, to the section on social functions and conditions.
Delegates then addressed a provision on integrating the sustainable production and consumption of forest products into relevant national measures, such as public procurement policies, guidelines and other instruments, including market-based instruments, to promote SFM. Ukraine proposed to “apply measures aimed to ensure the fulfillment of productive functions of forests” to increase the use of wood from sustainable sources and, opposed by the EU and Switzerland, deleting references to sustainable consumption and public procurement policies.
The Russian Federation questioned the INC-Forests’ mandate to negotiate issues outside the forest sector, with Ukraine suggesting, and delegates agreeing, to delete text on avoiding “market distortions between forest and non-forest products.”
Delegates agreed ad referendum to language stating that parties shall take measures at regional, subregional and national levels to eliminate illegal harvesting of timber and associated trade and to ensure or strengthen forest law enforcement, in support of SFM, and integrate the use of sustainably produced forest products into relevant measures for sustainable consumption and production, “while promoting fair treatment of forest products.”
Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of biological diversity in forest ecosystems: Throughout the week, delegates introduced several proposals to address linkages between biodiversity and forest resources. The EU, with Ukraine, Switzerland and Norway, supported protecting and restoring forest biodiversity and increasing it “where appropriate.”
Iceland, with Norway, the EU and Switzerland, supported maintaining and further developing “networks” of “representative” protective forest areas. Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Belarus requested bracketing these references.
Norway suggested considering endemic and threatened species, and proposed integrating prevention of the introduction of invasive species and “other measures to mitigate the negative impacts” on forests and their biodiversity. Switzerland, supported by Iceland, proposed clarifying the impacts of “those” invasive alien species and Norway suggested that “impacts” be identified as “negative.” Switzerland opposed narrowing the scope only to “existing” forest ecosystem services. INC-Forests3 agreed ad referendum “to further the conservation of endemic and threatened species in forests and to prevent and mitigate the negative impacts of those invasive alien species that threaten forest ecosystems.”
Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of protective functions in forest management (notably soil and water): Serbia, supported by Albania, supported protecting, restoring and enhancing protective functions of forest ecosystem services. Ukraine and Turkey suggested considering functions for preventing natural hazards, such as combating desertification. Delegates agreed ad referendum to maintain, enhance or restore protective functions of forests, such as water and soil protection, as well as contribute to the prevention of natural hazards, including combating desertification.
Delegates considered: enhancing the protection of groundwater and surface water through appropriate forest management practices, highlighting the importance of valuing ecosystem services; and whether to include, as suggested by the EU and Turkey, “afforestation and integrated river basin management.” Switzerland, supported by the EU and Turkey, proposed the inclusion of cross-border cooperation. INC-Forests3 considered and bracketed several ways to refer to the role of mutual exchange of data and information in cross-border cooperation regarding the protection of groundwater and surface water. References to “afforestation in basins including through cross-border cooperation” and “mutual exchange of data” remain in brackets.
Delegates agreed ad referendum to support the protective functions of forests for awareness raising, decision making and strengthening sectoral cooperation.
Maintenance of other socioeconomic functions and conditions: Delegates agreed ad referendum that social and cultural benefits of forests, including recreation, human health and well-being, and the preservation and promotion of forest-related historic cultural heritage, as well as gender equality, should be taken into account in SFM. However, delegates agreed on the need to check the Russian translation of the word “heritage.”
Delegates discussed the contribution of traditional knowledge to policy development. INC-Forests3 agreed ad referendum on the EU proposal “to improve the use of scientific and traditional forest-related knowledge in policy development, decision making and innovation, and to promote training and education in SFM.”
The EU proposed alternative text on broadening and diversifying the financial basis for SFM by considering the values of forest ecosystem services, in particular their regulating, cultural and supporting services, in the development of national forest policies. Switzerland referenced the Warsaw Ministerial Resolution II on Forests and Water for measures that may include economic tools, such as payments for ecosystem services. Norway proposed that SFM “incorporate” rather than “consider” the values of the forest ecosystem services. Serbia suggested adding “intangible” to qualify forest ecosystem services. Delegates bracketed the original and alternative versions of the text.
Iceland drew attention to the relevance of sharing information and communication with all stakeholders, and Ukraine suggested measures to improve communication on SFM, including forest owners and managers, practitioners and the scientific community. DKM, supported by Norway, requested adding non-governmental organizations among the stakeholders. Switzerland proposed, and delegates agreed, that parties “facilitate communication” instead of “take measures to improve communication” between policy makers and all stakeholders. The EU proposed, and Ukraine opposed, that communication “improve policy development and implementation and increase awareness of SFM.” The reference remains in brackets.
The EU suggested, and delegates agreed, that gender equality be taken into account when aiming to increase the contribution of forests to sustainable development, in particular to rural development, livelihoods and employment. Delegates agreed ad referendum “to aim at increasing the contribution of forests to sustainable development and, in particular, to rural development, livelihoods and employment, ensuring healthy and safe work places according to international labor standards and taking into account gender equality.”
RULES, BODIES AND OTHER PROCEDURES: This section of the draft negotiating text is divided into four parts: Conference of the Parties (COP), Right to Vote, Secretariat and Compliance. During INC-Forests3, only the COP, Secretariat and Compliance portions were discussed.
Conference of the Parties: This subsection, discussed in plenary on Tuesday, addresses the establishment and functions of the COP as the supreme body of the agreement.
The EU proposed, and INC-Forests agreed, that the COP “consider,” rather than “review,” reports and recommendations submitted by its subsidiary bodies and provide guidance to them.
The Russian Federation, opposed by Switzerland, Norway and the EU, suggested that the COP consider undertaking any additional action “as agreed by concerned parties,” explaining that this would not affect the fact that decisions will be taken by consensus. The reference remains in brackets.
Norway and Switzerland supported ordinary sessions of the COP to be held every three years rather than every two. The text remains in brackets.
Secretariat: This section includes provisions on the establishment of a secretariat. Many delegates drew attention to the interlinkages between this section and the decision on which institutions will serve as the secretariat for the agreement. The EU and Ukraine requested bracketing a provision that the COP, at its first session, make arrangements for the functioning of the secretariat, noting this decision is linked to the discussion of bringing the LBA under the UN umbrella.
Compliance: In this section, provisions on a compliance mechanism are set out. This issue was addressed in plenary on Tuesday, discussed in Working Group 2 (WG2), co-chaired by Ingwald Gschwandtl (Austria) and Otrakçier Tamer (Turkey), on Wednesday, and further addressed in a contact group on Wednesday evening.
Delegates commenced reviewing four textual proposals submitted by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the EU and Norway (Documents 2/INC3 and 4/INC3). The main issues discussed by the INC included establishment of a compliance committee, reporting, review of parties’ reports, and other compliance provisions.
Ukraine and the Russian Federation supported text stating that “if a party is prevented by the exercise of jurisdiction by another party to ensure compliance, it shall not, to the extent that it is so prevented, bear responsibility for that failure to ensure compliance.” Switzerland, supported by the EU, suggested deleting the proposal, indicating that the text is similar to the Antarctic Treaty’s provisions, which are intended to apply in territories that are not under national sovereignty. Ukraine provided an example for the applicability of the provision, explaining that it will address non-compliance due to actions by third countries that have transboundary effects. Norway clarified that, under the agreement, countries will be obligated to take SFM-related measures, explaining that even if a country’s forests are affected by transboundary activities occurring in a third country, that country’s obligation to comply with the agreement would be limited to taking appropriate SFM measures.
Delegates also discussed at length the establishment of a compliance committee. Norway and the EU proposed creating a compliance committee. Switzerland referenced the recently adopted UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention’s compliance committee as a potential model to emulate. The Russian Federation suggested combining its proposal with Ukraine’s proposals for a negotiating text on a “soft” compliance mechanism. Ukraine withdrew its proposal with the understanding that delegates would work on a merged proposal. Addressing the nature of the compliance mechanism, the EU explained that a non-confrontational process is a “soft” mechanism even if a compliance committee is established, with Norway adding that it would provide recommendations only. Delegates agreed to include, in the draft text, language on the establishment of a compliance committee to monitor and promote compliance and address cases of non-compliance with the agreement’s provisions.
Ukraine and the Russian Federation proposed that the compliance committee be “facilitative, non-confrontational, transparent, cooperative and advisory in nature.” The EU, with Norway and Switzerland, objected to the committee being “advisory” in nature, with Norway and Switzerland underscoring the committee should provide recommendations, rather than only advice, and should be qualified as “recommendatory.” As an alternative, the EU proposed that the committee “assist parties in their implementation of the agreement.” Norway and Switzerland preferred deleting this reference and it remains in brackets.
The EU proposed: setting the basic provisions for establishing a compliance committee and letting the COP define the details once the agreement is adopted; and drew attention to the model followed by the recently adopted Convention on Mercury, signed by most countries represented at INC-Forests3. Regarding membership of the committee, the EU suggested it be composed of seven members, due to difficulties in getting experts for the tasks required. Switzerland, with Ukraine, suggested nine based on experiences with the UNECE Water Convention. Both references remain in brackets. Switzerland, supported by the EU and Norway, suggested bracketing text regarding committee members serving in their personal capacity. The EU preferred, and delegates agreed, that members be selected “based on their personal expertise.”
Delegates also discussed some of the responsibilities to be performed by the committee. The EU and Norway supported that the committee consider and bring to the attention of the COP systemic or general issues related to compliance of interest to all parties. The Russian Federation requested that the reference be kept in brackets. Delegates also agreed to include other provisions on the committee’s functions, which state that the committee shall consider any question of compliance with the agreement on the basis of national reports referred by the secretariat, written submission from parties, requests from the COP, or written submissions from stakeholders, the latter of which remains in brackets. Provisions that would call for the committee to provide advice and facilitate assistance to parties and to bring to the COP’s attention systemic or general issues related to compliance of interest to parties, also emain in brackets.
Switzerland, opposed by Ukraine, supported deletion of a proposal that each party may, whenever deemed necessary, draw the COP’s attention to any activity, which in its opinion affects the implementation of the agreement’s objectives and principles. Norway, supported by the EU, said they would prefer these issues be addressed through the compliance committee’s functions.
When discussing parties’ reporting, Norway supported that reporting be made not only on measures taken, but also on the status of forests. Norway, supported by Switzerland, indicated the need to distinguish between reporting on implementation of the LBA’s obligations and on the state of forests. Delegates discussed whether it would be more suitable, as suggested by the EU, to place provisions on parties’ reporting in the chapter on general provisions or keep them in the section on compliance. A provision on reporting remains in brackets and states that each party shall, at intervals to be determined by the COP, present a report on measures taken for the implementation of the agreement.
The EU proposed introducing a mechanism for reviewing parties’ reports. Delegates agreed that text on the review mechanism should be cross checked with the committee’s task of providing scientific and technical assessments of parties’ reports on the state of their forests and on implementation of the agreement. The EU, supported by Switzerland, proposed two new paragraphs on a review mechanism for reports: one calling on a “comprehensive technical assessment” by experts in accordance with guidelines agreed by the COP and coordinated by the secretariat; and the other providing for each COP session to analyze such reviews, or where reviews are not available, the possibility that parties can consider and seek clarification of reports submitted by other parties. Ukraine, Norway and the Russian Federation asked to bracket the EU proposals for future consideration. Ukraine questioned whether such a proposal was in line with a “soft” compliance mechanism, and asked about the details of the expert review proposed. The EU responded that such details should be decided by the COP and not spelled out in the LBA text. The EU, supported by Ukraine, proposed that the review of parties’ reports be carried out periodically. The EU, Switzerland and Ukraine discussed whether the committee would be required to have the specific technical expertise to carry out the scientific and technical assessment of reports.
A paragraph on the compliance committee to periodically review parties’ compliance with the reporting requirements of the agreements and its protocols was also incorporated in the draft text. Switzerland, opposed by Norway, favored deleting reference to “protocols.” Norway emphasized that the agreement and its potential protocols should have the same compliance committee and Switzerland said this should be regulated in the body of the relevant protocol.
Norway and the EU supported, and the Russian Federation opposed, that the brackets around the section on compliance be removed. The Russian Federation said the section has interlinkages with the decision on whether the agreement is placed within or outside the UN umbrella and therefore should remain in brackets until the political decisions are made. The EU requested that its original proposal on compliance be maintained as an alternative option. The entire section on compliance, negotiated by INC-Forests3, remains in brackets, along with the EU’s original proposal.
FINAL CLAUSES: During the second reading of the draft negotiating text on Tuesday afternoon, INC-Forests3 considered the chapter on final clauses. The EU suggested this section be examined by legal experts.
Amendments to the Agreement: INC-Forests made editorial suggestions to clean and strengthen language on: submitting proposed amendments in writing; reaching an agreement on proposed amendments; adopted amendments; and entering amendments into force.
Adoption and Amendment of Annexes to the Agreement: The delegates discussed a possible “opt-out” clause to simplify the procedure of approving an annex to the LBA. The EU suggested this be reviewed later.
Signatures: On a reference to the agreement being open for signature by states and the regional economic integration organization which are signatories to FOREST EUROPE, Switzerland, supported by the EU, suggested removing the reference to signatories to FOREST EUROPE and introducing an annex containing the countries and the regional organizations that sign the agreement.
Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession: Delegates discussed standard provisions and suggested considering how other agreements address this issue.
SWISS PROPOSAL FOR RESTRUCTURING THE DRAFT NEGOTIATING TEXT: Throughout the week, Switzerland pressed negotiators to reformat and edit the text to more closely conform to convention language and style, offered a non-paper laying out its proposals and facilitated an informal group of interested parties to translate the ideas into concrete proposals. When these suggestions were not taken up, Switzerland insisted on entering the informal group’s proposed amendment into the draft negotiating text as a formal proposal from Switzerland.
Under the Swiss proposal, some current sections would become chapters and others articles:
- “Chapter I: Introduction” would include three articles: terms and definitions; objective; and principles.
- “Chapter II” would be “Commitments/Obligations of the Parties” with an article on “general provisions” incorporating what is now the chapeau of the general provisions section, and the rest of the articles having the titles of the current subsection titles based on the Helsinki Criteria. Each of these thematic articles would have chapeau language declaring “Parties shall have in place or adopt legislative, administrative or other policy measures in order to secure” followed by the Helsinki Criteria-based theme.
- Chapter III: Institutional Provisions” would include articles on: the COP; right to vote; secretariat; and compliance.
- “Chapter IV: Final clauses” would include articles on: settlement of disputes; amendments to the agreement; adoption and amendment of annexes to the agreement; protocols; depository; signature; ratification, acceptance, approval or accession; entry into force; reservations; withdrawal; and authentic texts.
The proposed amendments by Switzerland were noted in brackets in the negotiating text to be forwarded to the resumed INC-Forests3 session in Saint Petersburg.
POSSIBILITIES FOR BRINGING THE LBA UNDER THE UN UMBRELLA
On Tuesday morning in plenary, INC-Forests3 returned to the question posed to the Committee by the Oslo Mandate, which was first addressed at INC-Forests2: whether the FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference will endorse the LBA for adoption by a UN organ as a UN treaty; or whether the Ministerial Conference itself will adopt the agreement as a non-UN treaty. After an initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, a video conference was held on Wednesday with the consultants who prepared an analysis of these options at the request of the Chair. On Wednesday afternoon, the issue was discussed in detail in Working Group 1 (WG1), co-chaired by Katerina Ventrubova (Czech Republic) and Piotr Paschalis-Jakubowicz (Poland). Several informal consultations were held on Thursday and Friday where interested delegations discussed their questions and concerns with the candidate organizations for hosting and servicing the LBA.
Discussions began with Chair Heino introducing his note (Document 5/INC3) on the process to request information from the European Forest Institute (EFI), UNECE, UN FAO and UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and on key aspects involved in deciding whether to bring the LBA under the UN umbrella, and the retention of independent experts asked by the Chair to analyze the options. Chair Heino referred delegates to the relevant submissions from EFI (Annexes 1.1. and 1.2.), FAO (Annex 2.), UNECE (Annex 3.1.), the UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs (Annex 3.2.), UNEP (Annex 4.) and independent experts (Annexes 5. and 6.).
The INC-Forests Secretariat provided an overview of the documents, highlighting the need for, inter alia: early consultation with agencies to ensure goals, principles and procedures are compatible; and ensuring that both parties benefit from the cooperation. The INC-Forests Secretariat conveyed that the consultants’ report said the choice of a host organization or secretariat is a political decision to be taken by the INC, and reported the advantages of bringing the LBA under the UN umbrella outlined by the consultants, including: direct access to forest-relevant processes; synergies to avoid splintering of forest processes; and access to the expertise of the UN system. She said the consultants also noted disadvantages, including the rigidity and inflexibility of UN procedures.
Over the course of the week’s discussions, the three UN bodies cautioned against adopting the text outside the UN and later trying to bring the agreement under the UN umbrella, citing difficulties experienced by the Ramsar Convention in attempting to do so.
Each organization highlighted advantages it could bring to serving as the LBA secretariat. EFI emphasized its flexibility and technical expertise in forestry issues. FAO underscored its technical expertise, history in forestry issues and possible synergies with such work. The UNECE noted that it already hosts five multilateral environment agreements, both regional and global, so it would be able to host the LBA regardless of whether it is a European or global instrument. The UNECE explained that while the LBA secretariat would be funded by the parties, if the LBA is adopted as a UN treaty, and the UNECE is selected as secretariat, the types of services provided by the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), including translating, conference coordination and legal services, would be available for free. UNEP underscored its legal expertise and possible LBA synergies with conventions for which UNEP already serves as Secretariat.
Questions posed to the four organizations about the budgetary requirements and services that could be expected were met with a request for more information on what functions the INC envisioned for the LBA secretariat, which would determine size, costs and possible services. The UN organizations noted that they all use the UN common system of salaries, allowances and benefits, with some variability depending on location, as well as the same UN system rules for accounting, monitoring and reporting, whereby cost would not change from one organization to another.
All four organizations stressed that no matter which organization or organizations is/are chosen to serve as the LBA secretariat, extra-budgetary resources would be required, unless, in the case of the UNECE or UNEP, a formal request for regular budget resources must be forwarded to the UN General Assembly for approval.
The four candidate organizations explained the procedures and timelines necessary for their approval to host the LBA and/or serve as its secretariat. EFI noted that since its member countries are involved in INC-Forests, the necessary decisions from EFI could be expected from its Council session scheduled for September 2013. FAO said that its Council would make the necessary decisions, and since the Council meets three times in 2013, a decision was possible by the end of the year. The UNECE said depending on the LBA’s final form, its Timber Committee or Executive Committee should be involved. UNEP said that since its Governing Council meets in February 2013, a decision on UNEP’s role as secretariat could not be made until the next Council meeting in 2014.
UNEP suggested the possibility of establishing an interim secretariat as a means to address time constraints, and highlighted the value of involving the possible hosting institution at an early stage in the drafting process in order to reach mutual understanding of arrangements. FAO underscored that it can continue to provide secretariat services from extra-budgetary funds as an interim secretariat without going to the FAO governing body for approval.
Germany announced its intention to make a formal offer to host the LBA secretariat in Bonn, underscoring that the offer is not contingent on the whether the LBA is brought under the UN umbrella. Germany noted that Bonn hosts several agreements, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and will soon have a new world conference center.
At the request of the Russian Federation, each organization explained how Germany’s offer to host the LBA in Bonn might influence the choice of secretariat.
UNEP said it already hosts the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Bonn, and could do the same for the LBA. The UNECE pointed out that Bonn does not offer the diplomatic representation or free services by UNOG that Geneva does, and cannot easily liaise with existing forestry bodies, such as those operating under the UNECE. UNEP added that it is possible for the LBA to be served by a joint secretariat. FAO said it did not foresee problems with establishing an office in Bonn. EFI said it could easily establish an office in Bonn; however, if countries wanted the type of services offered by UN agencies, it would have to add them.
In response to the Russian Federation’s request for parties to state their positions on whether or not they want the LBA to be under the UN umbrella, Norway, with Iceland, supported bringing the agreement under the UN umbrella, with FAO taking a leading role and administrative responsibility, along with participation from the UNECE and UNEP. The Russian Federation spoke in favor of bringing the LBA under the UN umbrella, but said further consideration of the proposals of the three UN agencies was required.
The INC agreed that a political decision on whether or not to have the LBA adopted as a UN treaty would be taken at a later date.
ROADMAP FOR THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS
Chair Heino opened discussions on the roadmap during Thursday’s afternoon plenary, stressing that a clear roadmap is needed between INC-Forests4 and the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference.
The Russian Federation offered to host an intersessional meeting from 3-5 April 2013 in Saint Petersburg. INC-Forests3 accepted Poland’s offer to host INC-Forests4 from 10-14 June 2013 in Warsaw. When discussions on the roadmap resumed during Friday’s morning plenary, Chair Heino announced that the Bureau had unanimously agreed to a proposal to suspend INC-Forests3 and reconvene from 3-5 April 2013 in Saint Petersburg.
The EU requested that each of the four organizations considered to serve as the LBA secretariat submit further detailed information during the intersessional period on projected costs and services, and offered a non-paper for delegations to consider listing the types of information sought.Norway, supported by the Russian Federation, objected to any such request being made in the name of the Committee, saying the four organizations had already provided sufficient information during the course of the Antalya session and that delegates were free to seek further details directly from the organizations themselves. Switzerland said that in the interest of transparency and equal treatment of the candidate organizations, all four organizations should be asked to respond to the same set of questions with written responses distributed to all participants. An informal consultation among interested parties held during the lunch break failed to break the impasse, so the Committee decided not to formally request the Chair to solicit the information. Chair Heino noted that delegations themselves are free to seek information directly from the organizations.
After some discussion, delegates agreed that the Saint Petersburg session will focus on: deciding whether to bring the LBA under the UN umbrella; initiating a discussion on financial provisions; furthering discussions on compliance; and deciding on the roadmap from Saint Petersburg through to the Extraordinary FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference to be held in Madrid, Spain, in late 2013, where the results of the negotiations will be presented to ministers for possible adoption.
The EU, supported by the Russian Federation, proposed the creation of a legal working group to scrutinize the current negotiating text (Document 2/INC3) on final clauses and to begin work in Saint Petersburg. At the request of Ukraine, the compliance section on rules and procedures was deleted from the terms of reference for the legal working group.
At the suggestion of Switzerland, INC-Forests3 requested the Bureau, assisted by the INC-Forests Secretariat, to draft the LBA annexes for discussion in Saint Petersburg. Due to time constraints, delegates agreed that the draft annexes be presented and discussed in Saint Petersburg in English only, with translation into French and Russian to follow later.
At the suggestion of Ukraine, delegates agreed that the resumed session would initiate the process of drafting a resolution that ministers would take at the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference, with a view to fully elaborating the draft at INC-Forests4.
At the suggestion of Switzerland, INC-Forests3 asked the Chair to write a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General and FAO Director-General requesting information on what final clauses would be required for either of them to become the depository for the LBA. The Committee agreed that the letter should be sent once the results of the Saint Petersburg session are known.
The INC-Forests Secretariat presented an oral briefing on the state of the trust fund of the INC-Forests process. He noted financial contributions from various countries and in-kind contributions from the host countries of the INC and intersessional meetings, but stressed that remaining funds will not be enough to cover both the resumed INC-Forests3 in Saint Petersburg and INC-Forests4 in Warsaw and urged additional contributions. The EU announced that it would contribute €50,000 for the process.
REPORT OF THE SESSION
During the Friday afternoon plenary discussion on suspending INC-Forests3 and reconvening in April in Saint Petersburg, the INC-Forests Secretariat pointed out that Rule 7.4 of the INC-Forests rules of procedure specify that the draft report is considered and approved only at the end of a session, so the draft report of INC-Forests3 will be presented and considered at the conclusion of the resumed session in Saint Petersburg. The Committee agreed to ask the Chair to provide an unofficial “Chair’s Summary” of the session.
CLOSURE OF THE SESSION
Chair Heino thanked Committee members for the cooperative spirit of the meeting, noting that while many tasks were accomplished in Antalya, new challenges awaited them in Saint Petersburg. He urged delegates to come to Saint Petersburg prepared to make important political decisions on the future of the LBA.
Chair Heino suspended INC-Forests3 at 6:30pm.
Thirteenth Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change: The 13th Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue, subtitled “Status of Tenure Reforms in West and Central Africa and Impacts of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Extractive and Infrastructure Sectors,” is being organized by RRI, the Commission des Forets d’Afrique Centrale (COMIFAC), the Cameroonian Ministry of Forest and Wildlife and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Participants will take stock of tenure reform in Central and West Africa since 2009, examining new pressures on forest lands from large-scale land acquisitions, extractive industries and infrastructure projects. dates: 5-7 March 2013 venue: Yaounde Conference Center location: Yaounde, Cameroon contact: Boubacar Diarra phone: +223-76-45-55-45 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.rightsandresources.org/events.php?id=814
Third Mediterranean Forest Week: The third Mediterranean Forest Week is being organized by the Governments of Algeria, France, Germany, Tunisia and Turkey, along with FAO, the Secretariat of the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions, l’Association Internationale Forêts Méditerranéennes, le Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, the European Forest Institute, the Mediterranean Forests Model Network and Plan Bleu. The Week will be convened under the theme “Mediterranean forests for sustainable development of territories: what strategies of mitigation and adaptation to global change.” It will focus on strengthening links between the scientific community and other stakeholders working in or dependent on Mediterranean forests, examining both the contribution of the forests to economic development and ecosystem services and their links with climate change. dates: 17-21 March 2013 venue: Maison du Parc de Tlemcen location: Tlemcen, Algeria contact: Christophe Besacier, Secretariat of Silva Mediterranea e-mail: email@example.com phone: +39-06570-55508 www: http://www.iii-med.forestweek.org/
World Teak Conference 2013: This conference is organized in collaboration with teak specialist organizations, such as the Plant Genetic Conservation Project under the Royal Initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and TEAKNET, as well as the FAO. The main topics to be addressed are: genetics, silviculture and utilization; environment and carbon trading; economics and investments; and rural development. dates: 25-30 March 2013 venue: Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at Central World location: Bangkok, Thailand contact: Secretariat Office phone: +662-956-1580 fax: +662-932-4454 www: http://www.worldteak2013.org/index.php?menuId=1
Global Forest Products Marketing and Forest Certification in a Green Economy: Organized by the Japan Society of Forest Planning Risk Analysis Research Center, Japan’s Institute of Statistical Mathematics and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), this symposium focuses on providing a synthesis of scientific research on forest products marketing and forest certification worldwide to discuss strategies and challenges of the forest sector in a green economy. date: 28 March 2013 venue: Iwate University location: Morioka, Japan contact: Toshiaki Owari email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com www: http://www.formath.jp/symposium/2013morioka/
INC-Forests3 Resumed Session: INC-Forests3 will reconvene to discuss, inter alia, the decision on whether to adopt the LBA as a UN treaty, what organization(s) will serve as secretariat, finance, compliance, and the road map for negotiations through to the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference of FOREST EUROPE, scheduled for late 2013. dates: 3-5 April 2013 location: Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation e-mail: INC-Forests@foresteurope.org www: http://www.forestnegotiations.org
UNFF 10: The tenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) will focus on forests and economic development, including agenda items on: forest products and services; national forest programmes and other sectoral policies and strategies; reducing risks and impacts of disasters; and benefits of forests and trees to urban communities. dates: 8-19 April 2013 location: Istanbul, Turkey contact: UNFF Secretariat phone: +1-212-963-3401 fax: +1-917-367-3186 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.un.org/esa/forests/session.html
38th Meeting of the Afforestation and Reforestation Working Group: The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Afforestation and Reforestation Working Group (A/R/WG) will hold its 38th meeting to consider matters relating to CDM A/R project activities, including preparing recommendations on submitted proposals for new baseline and monitoring methodologies for A/R CDM project activities. dates: 17-19 April 2013 location: Bonn, Germany contact: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 e-mail: email@example.com www: http://cdm.unfccc.int/calendar/index.html
35th Session Joint FAO/UNECE Working Party on Forest Statistics, Economics and Management: The Working Party is expected to provide guidance and exchange views on issues of forest statistics and other elements of the UNECE/FAO Joint Work Programme. date: April 23-25, 2013 venue: Palais des Nations location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: Alex McCusker email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.unece.org/forests/wpfsem2013.html
INC-Forests4: The fourth and final session of the INC for a LBA on Forests in Europe (INC-Forests4) is slated to complete negotiations at this meeting. dates: 10-14 June 2013 [tentative] location: Warsaw, Poland e-mail: INC-Forests@foresteurope.org www: http://www.forestnegotiations.org
Third IUFRO Latin American Congress (IUFROLAT 2013): Organized jointly by IUFRO and the Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center, with support from FAO and the Ibero-American Model Forest Network, this event seeks to address advances and challenges of forest sector development, providing a platform for stakeholders to share and exchange information and experiences on critical issues affecting tree resources and forest landscapes in Latin America. dates: 12-15 June 2013 location: San Jose, Costa Rica contact: Kaley Lachapelle phone: +506-2558-2000 e-mail: email@example.com www: http://web.catie.ac.cr/iufrolat/IufroLat_ing.htm