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Forests, Deserts, Land

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December 2008


The Second International Conference on Desertification convened from 14-17 December 2008, hosted by the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Co-sponsored by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, participants at the four-day event discussed: life and soil degradation in the drylands; the role of vegetation in sustainable living in drylands; and the human dimensions – policies and partnerships to combat desertification. Link to further information Conference website

The 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Environment Management Group convened on 10 December 2008, in Poznan, Poland. Participants discussed: implementation of the 2007 commitment by the Chief Executives Board on moving towards a climate-neutral UN, including the development of a Climate Neutral Knowledge Management website that will document individual agency's greenhouse gas emissions and reductions; the cost implications and budgetary modalities of purchasing carbon offsets; and future EMG work, including a possible strategic process and the strategy for implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the 2010 biodiversity targets. Regarding the issue of a climate-neutral UN, participants discussed the significant contributions of air travel to the UN's climate footprint. They also considered the Issue Management Group on a Climate Neutral UN's agreement for a common approach on whether to use the Radiative Forcing Index as a metric. Link to further information Meeting website

The second Forest Day event, held in Poznan, Poland, on 6 December 2008, brought together nearly 900 participants from a diverse range of forest stakeholders, academics and decision makers from around the world, to facilitate discussions on the potential to incorporate forests into climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies at both the global and national level. Taking place in parallel with the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Forest Day 2 was co-hosted by the Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR), the Government of Poland and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), a partnership of 14 forest-related international organizations, chaired by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Following on the positive response to the first Forest Day held on 8 December 2007, in Bali, Indonesia, during UNFCCC COP 13, Forest Day 2 considered cross-cutting themes such as: adaptation of forests to climate change; addressing forest degradation through sustainable forest management; capacity building for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD); and options for integrating REDD into the global climate regime. A drafting committee representing members of the CPF produced a summary of key messages that emerged in the course of the day, to be forwarded to the UNFCCC Secretariat. Key messages included: that climate change adaptation and mitigation are linked, particularly in the context of forests; that it is important to involve women, the poor, and indigenous peoples in the design and operation of forest-related climate change policies; and that forests provide significant co-benefits beyond carbon storage. Differing views were expressed on whether and how these benefits should be monetized and included in a potential regime for REDD. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of Forest Day 2 Forest Day 2 Homepage

On 5 December 2008, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) launched a Strategic Framework for Forests and Climate Change during a side event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. Since April 2008, the members of the CPF have worked to develop a strategic framework for forests and climate change. The Framework proposes a coordinated forest-sector response to the global climate change agenda. It puts forward a case for a tactical role of sustainable forest management (SFM) in achieving long-term climate change mitigation and as a robust framework for effective adaptation. It also emphasizes urgent action for adaptation and more focus on combating forest degradation through SFM, including forest conservation, rehabilitation and restoration. The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is an interagency mechanism of 14 international organizations and secretariats dealing with forest issues. It was established following an invitation by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). CPF supports the work of the UN Forum on Forests and the Rio Conventions and seeks to enhance collaboration and coordination on forest issues. Links to further information CPF website on forests and climate change IISD RS Coverage of the launch's side event

November 2008


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), at its 63rd session on 24 November 2008, approved by consensus a draft resolution calling for urgent global action to address climate change. In the draft resolution, the UNGA would, inter alia, stress the seriousness of climate change, call for full implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and recognize the need to provide financial and technical resources. The Second Committee also approved a draft resolution that calls for the effective implementation of the commitments adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and as contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, invites Member States to express their views on the possibility of convening a high-level event on sustainable development and calls for the Secretary-General to report back to the UNGA on these views, and reaffirms the need for financing to support the implementation of Agenda 21. The Second Committee also approved, on 26 November 2008, draft text on small island sustainable development, desertification, and oceans. On oceans, the Committee approved by consensus a draft resolution titled “towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations.” The draft calls on the UN and member states to help Caribbean states and regional organizations to protect the Caribbean from pollution due to ships, illegal dumping and hazardous wastes, and to become parties to relevant multilateral agreements. On small island developing states (SIDS), the Committee approved a draft resolution urging the UN, member states, and the Global Environment Facility to implement the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, as well as to help SIDS in their adaptation efforts. On desertification, the Second Committee recommended that UNGA call for the integration of desertification and land degradation into sustainable development plans and strategies, encourage affected States parties and donors to take into account civil society's participation in Convention processes when setting priorities in national development strategies, and urge the Committee on Science and Technology to expedite efforts to create links with scientific communities in order to fully use relevant initiatives in sustainable land and water management. On disasters, a draft text was agreed that calls on the international community to provide predictable resources to vulnerable developing countries and stresses the importance of the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action in disaster risk reduction. Another draft resolution was agreed that calls for the implementation of the Hyogo documents, institutional strengthening, and contributions to the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction. Links to further information Press Release on GA/EF/3233, 25 November 2008 Draft resolution A/C.2/63/L.62, 25 November 2008 UN Press Release on SIDS, Desertification, Disasters, 26 November 2008

The International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment and the First Arab Water Forum took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 16-19 November 2008. Participants discussed: water resources; water conservation; climate change and its impact on water resources and arid environments; utilization of new technologies in the study of arid environments and their natural resources; the advancement of Arab water policy towards development; and management of water crises in the Arab world. In his inaugural speech, Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz pointed to the possibility that terrorism targets water resources and called for a water summit similar to the world economic summits. Links to further information Conference website Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia Press Release, 16 November 2008 Saudi Press Agency, 16 November 2008

The UN Forum on Forests Ad Hoc Expert Group on Finance has convened in Vienna, Austria, from 10-14 November 2008. The Group is seeking to develop proposals for the development of a voluntary global financial mechanism/portfolio approach/forest financing framework to support the implementation of sustainable forest management, the achievement of the global objectives on forests, and the implementation of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests. Experts are considering a background document prepared by the Advisory Group on Finance of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The meeting's report will be submitted to the UNFF's eighth session in April and early May 2009, when a decision on financing is expected. Link to further information Expert Group Meeting website

The Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) convened from 12-14 November 2008, in Baguio City, the Philippines. The consultation was organized by Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies Traditional Knowledge Initiative, the UN REDD Programme and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat. Participants adopted a global indigenous peoples strategy on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The strategy makes reference to a number of overarching principles, including a human-rights approach to all REDD activities, and the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. With regard to international processes and organizations, recommendations address: coordinating and sharing information with the UN agencies, specialized bodies and initiatives that are considered relevant for implementing action on climate change and indigenous peoples; recognizing the close links between traditional knowledge, biodiversity and climate change, and ensuring close cooperation and more synergy between the CBD and UNFCCC on traditional knowledge and climate change, supporting the establishment of a working group on local-level adaptation with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples; and establishing a working group/expert body on traditional knowledge and climate change under the joint liaison group of the CBD/UNFCCC/UNCCD. It is also recommended that the UN-REDD programme and other funders develop compliance guidelines, as well as a grievance and recourse mechanism, to ensure that indigenous peoples' rights are observed at the national and international levels. Links to further information The report of the meeting CBD Executive Secretary statement

The first Special Session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S-1) and the seventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 7) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) convened in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3-14 November 2008. Delegates reviewed the two-year work programmes and four-year work plans that the Convention's bodies were asked to develop, as well as indicators and reporting guidelines, to set in place the mechanisms through which implementation of the ten-year strategic plan (the Strategy), which was adopted in 2007, would be executed and assessed. The CST S-1 session, from 5-6 November, considered preparations for CST 9, elements of the Strategy related to the CST, the CST's four-year work plan and two-year costed work programme, and advice to the CRIC on measuring progress on the Strategy's Strategic Objectives. CRIC 7, which convened from 7-14 November, considered: the work plans and programmes for the Convention's bodies; the format of future meetings of the CRIC; and indicators and monitoring of the Strategy and principles for improving the procedures for communication of information as well as the quality and format of reports submitted to the Conference of the Parties. Delegates also conducted informal consultations to develop a process through which the CST Bureau would work during the coming year to identify a minimum set of indicators to monitor and assess desertification. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

The Chair's Summary Report of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Ad Hoc Expert Group on Finance, which convened in Vienna, Austria, from 10-14 November 2008, is available online. The meeting aimed to develop proposals for the development of a voluntary global financial mechanism/portfolio approach/forest financing framework to support the implementation of sustainable forest management, the achievement of the global objectives on forests and the implementation of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests. The Report states that there was considerable discussion about potential funding through mechanisms to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). A number of experts expressed support for a facilitative mechanism that would help mobilize existing and emerging funds and facilitate access to other sources of finance to help achieve national and sub-national priorities, while many experts reiterated their support for a distinct fund dedicated or earmarked for SFM and the global objectives. Member States will provide written contributions for further elaboration of the proposals, which the UNFF Secretariat will synthesize in preparation for UNFF 8, to be held in late April 2009. Links to further information Chair's Summary Report Meeting website

The 44th session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-44) met in Yokohama, Japan, from 3-8 November 2008, and concluded its session by pledging US$8.6 million in funds for new projects and thematic programmes. The Council adopted the ITTO Action Plan for 2008-2011. It also decided to establish several new thematic programmes, on a pilot basis, on: Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade; Community Forest Management and Enterprises; Trade and Market Transparency; Industry Development and Efficiency; and Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Environmental Services in Tropical Forests. Along with financing 11 projects and 2 pre-projects, ITTC approved additional funding for studying developments and progress in timber procurement policies. The Council also approved funds to update and field-test ITTO's Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, and for additional national training workshops on the application of criteria and indicators for sustainable tropical forest management. In addition, funds were pledged to enhance the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises to produce and trade legal and sustainable timber and to assist members in formulating and implementing an integrated forest-sector response to climate change. The Council decided to convene its next session in Yokohama in November 2009, followed by a session in Guatemala in 2010. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting ITTO media release, 8 November 2008

The International Conference on “The European Forest-Based Sector: Bio-Responses to Address New Climate and Energy Challenges?” took place from 6-8 November 2008, in Nancy, France. The conference was held under the auspices of the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, with the support of the European Commission. It was organized by Ecofor, France. Participants addressed the role of the forest-based sector in light of climate change and the impending energy crisis. The Conference aimed to provide policy makers with objective information regarding the role of the forest-based sector in relation to the physical processes of the carbon cycle, the competition between wood and other materials, and the energy market. Three themes were addressed: forests as carbon sinks; wood-based products: carbon storage and energy conservation; and the forest-based sector – source of renewable energy. During the conference, participants discussed the latest scientific developments in the forest-based sector and options for policy development. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting

A side event on the EU's Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan took place on 6 November 2008, at the 44th session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) held in Yokohama, Japan. Several briefing notes, information on the legislative proposal for regulating timber products in the Community market, and other information are now available online. Link to further information EU FLEGT Side Event at ITTC 44

The first special session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S1) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has concluded in Istanbul, Turkey. CST S1 met on 5-6 November 2008, and reviewed two and four year work plans for the CST that were prepared as a result of the adoption of the ten-year strategic plan during the September 2007 Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD. CST S1 also considered ways to measure progress in the implementation of the objectives of the ten-year strategic plan. The report of CST S1 will be presented to the seventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 7), which is meeting back-to-back with the CST during the 3-14 November 2008 joint meeting. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

October 2008


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial issues) of the 63rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) has recently considered a variety of topics related to sustainable development, including climate change, desertification, biodiversity and human settlements. On 28 October 2008, the Committee considered the report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) (document A/63/291). The report outlines how the medium-term strategic and institutional plan for 2008-2013 addresses the adaptation and mitigation challenges of climate change in the context of urban development and planning. Discussions in the Second Committee focused, among other issues, on the role of housing finance in the current economic crisis, the need to implement the Habitat Agenda given rapid urbanization. The previous day, on 27 October, the Committee began its general discussion on sustainable development, discussing issues relating to climate change, biodiversity and desertification. Speakers underscored the opportunity to make commitments given the economic and climate imperatives. The discussions were informed by the Secretary-General's note on Implementation of UN environmental conventions, transmitting the reports submitted by the secretariats of the UNFCCC, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Document A/63/294). The document reports on the work of the UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007, and its follow-up. The Report recommends that the UNGA: take note of the report of the UNFCCC Executive Secretary and the outcomes of COP13 and the third session of the COP to the Convention serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol; pledge its support to the negotiating processes established by the Bali road map; and invite the Executive Secretary to continue to report to it on the work of the Conference. In his report on implementing the UNCCD, the Secretary-General recommends that UNGA underline the importance of the Convention when addressing climate change issues, and envisages that the post-Kyoto arrangement should account for land's potential as a carbon storage reservoir, as well as in mitigating the effects of climate change and strengthening the resilience of affected developing countries. The report outlines actions aimed at delivery of the joint strategic objectives of the three Rio Conventions, namely: raising public awareness; creating capacities; contributing to the improvement of the global environment; and fostering strong scientific backing for sustainable policies derived from their implementation. Links to further information UNGA Press Release, 28 October 2008 Report of the Secretary-General on Habitat II Conference, 14 August 2008 UN Press Release, 27 October 2008 Note by the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN en..., 15 August 2008

Delegates from 45 countries met in Rome, Italy, from 20-24 October 2008, to discuss collaboration on sustainable forest management issues during the first European Forest Week (EFW), held in conjunction with the joint meeting of the Sixty-sixth session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Timber Council and Thirty-fourth session of the FAO European Forestry Commission. A variety of stakeholders shared perspectives and solutions to global challenges relating to forests and climate change, energy and water, covering aspects such as improving forest law enforcement and governance in the European neighborhood policy, the new forest policy of the Russian Federation, gender and forestry, the role of wood products in climate change mitigation, and adaptation of forest trees to climate change. At the conclusion of the European Forest Week, the joint meeting adopted its report and annexes reflecting the Chairs' summaries of the discussions on the central themes. The meeting also adopted the Joint Timber Committee and European Forestry Commission Market Statement reflecting the outcome of the market discussions. Concurrent to the events in Rome, over 100 EFW events were organized in 30 countries across Europe, including a one-day conference of the European Economic and Social Committee held in Brussels, Belgium. The European Forest Week was held in fulfillment of a Ministerial Statement adopted by the fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe in Warsaw in November 2007, which declared 20-24 October 2008 the Pan-European Forest Week 2008. Links to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting European Forest Week Website

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) were among the organizing partners for a UN University (UNU) hosted International Conference on Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability, which took place in Bonn, Germany, from 9-11 October 2008. Participants were asked to capture the current state of research and debate on the issue, and to conclude with recommendations for moving forward. Speaking at the Conference, the UNCCD Secretariat suggested that an international definition of “environmental refugees” should be agreed upon, because UN treaties recognize only political refugees as eligible for aid from the UN refugee agency. Coinciding with the meeting, the UNCCD developed a webpage on desertification and migration. The page notes that Operational Objective 2 of the ten-year strategy for the UNCCD, which was adopted in 2008, covers the issue of environment and migration. The conference also served as a platform to introduce the Climate Change, Environment and Migration Alliance (CCEMA), which was initiated in April 2008 by UNU, IOM, UNEP and the Munich Re Foundation. This Alliance is a multi-stakeholder global partnership that aims to mainstream environmental and climate change considerations into migration management policies and practices, and to bring migration issues into global environmental and climate change discourse. Links to further information International Conference on "Environment, Forced Migration a..., Bonn, Germany, 9-11 October 2008 UNCCD Statement UNCCD Desertification and Migration webpage UNU-EHS Press Release

September 2008


Approximately 30 land experts and stakeholders from African governments, centers of excellence, civil society, farmer's organizations and UN development partners gathered at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, from 10-20 September 2008, to draft a comprehensive framework and guidelines on land policy for Africa. The workshop was part of the Land Policy Initiative process, which was initiated in 2006 by a Consortium of the African Union, the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa. The main objective of the drafting session was to develop a framework and guidelines on Land Policy, with guiding principles that would help African countries undertake and harness land policy reforms to achieve poverty reduction, peace and security and sustainable development goals. The Draft framework and guidelines outline the main elements of an appropriate vision for land policy development in Africa including: equitable access to land; improved governance in the land sector; and reduction of land related conflicts. Link to further information African Press Organization, 19 September 2008

Forest leaders gathered after a seven-month global dialogue to highlight the central role of sustainable forest management (SFM) in combating climate change. The meeting, which convened under the auspices of the World Bank and The Forests Dialogue, met on 17-18 September 2008, and agreed on a set of principles for SFM that will be presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October 2008, and to the 14th session of the UNFCCC in Poznan, Poland, in December. More than 100 leaders and participants from governments, international institutions, the conservation community, indigenous peoples' groups, forest owners' associations, research agencies, and the private sector, participated in the meeting. Links to further information World Bank Press Release, 17 December 2008 The Forest Dialogue meeting materials

Statements have recently been posted from the gathering of forest stakeholders in Washington, DC, US, on 16-17 September 2008, to agree on a new set of principles for sustainable forest management and its central role in combating climate change. The meeting followed seven months of global dialogue with stakeholders, and was convened under the auspices of the World Bank and The Forests Dialogue, of which the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) is a founding member. Link to further information The Forest Dialogue Statements

The Country-Led Initiative on Financing for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in Support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF): The Paramaribo Dialogue met from 8-12 September 2008 in Paramaribo, Suriname. Over 225 participants representing governments and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations gathered to identify opportunities to enhance financing for SFM. The conference, organized by the governments of Suriname, the Netherlands and the US, sought to provide a forum for participants to share experiences with mobilizing forest funding and generating revenues, identify emerging and existing public and private financing sources, and examine the relationship between forest financing and forest-related governance. Throughout the week, participants discussed: producer, consumer and community perspectives on financing SFM; financing from ecosystem services; and institutional and governance strategies at the national and international levels for increasing SFM financing. A Co-Chair's Summary Report was produced, which aims to inform discussions at the meeting of the UNFF Ad Hoc Expert Group on Finance, to be held from 10-14 November 2008 in Vienna, Austria, and at UNFF8's deliberations on adopting a decision on SFM financing, which will take place from 20 April-1 May 2009, in New York, US. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting

August 2008


A preparatory meeting for the Country-Led Initiative (CLI) in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) on Financing for Sustainable Forest Management was held on 28 August 2008 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. At the preparatory meeting, delegates were briefed by Suriname Ambassador Henry MacDonald on the agenda of the CLI, which will take place from 8-12 September 2008 in Paramaribo, Suriname. He noted that the output from this event would feed into the deliberations of the UNFF Ad Hoc Expert Group on Finance, which will meet later in the year in Vienna, Austria, and the eighth session of the UNFF, which will be held in April 2009. Links to further information CLI Suriname website IISD RS coverage of the meeting

The conference “Adaptation of Forests and Forest Management to Changing Climate with Emphasis on Forest Health: A Review of Science, Policies and Practices” was held from 25-28 August 2008, in Umeå, Sweden. The conference, organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, focused on the current state of knowledge of ongoing changes in climatic conditions in different regions of the world, and the implications of these changes for forest management and conservation. Key messages emerging from the meeting include: reactive forest management must be replaced by planned adaptation based on monitoring and risk assessments; the forest sector has to learn to deal with and communicate uncertainty; and adaptation and mitigation are community-level livelihood issues. The conference report will be made available to an Expert Panel of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, whose own report will help inform the eighth session of the UN Forum on Forests in its deliberations on issues related to adaptation, in April 2009. Link to further information The conference website

July 2008


A regional workshop on improving forest law compliance and governance in tropical West Africa convened in Accra, Ghana, from 15-17 July 2008. The workshop, co-sponsored by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and hosted by the Ghana Forestry Commission, was attended by 62 representatives of governments, civil society, private companies, and regional and international organizations. Participants analyzed the problems and possible solutions related to illegal extraction of forest resources and governance in the management of forest ecosystems in the region. The meeting produced an “Accra Declaration,” which contains the workshop's findings and recommendations. Link to further information The Accra Declaration

June 2008


A meeting on “Operational Modalities for Future Work of the International Tropical Timber Council” was held in Accra, Ghana, from 9-12 June 2008. Grants worth over US$3 million to assist sustainable forest management were announced at the meeting, two-thirds of which will go to projects in Africa. The meeting began with an “Africa Day” event focusing on International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) African member countries focusing on regional challenges and development assistance needs. During the rest of the week participants addressed the entry into force of a new governing treaty, the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006, including the modalities of operation of new thematic programmes that will guide the Organization's work and the functions of the Council's subsidiary committees. Link to further information ITTO Media release, 11 June 2008

May 2008


The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) convened a High-Level Policy Dialogue to discuss “Coping with Today's Global Challenges in the Context of the UNCCD Strategy” on 27 May 2008, in Bonn, Germany. The Dialogue was intended to facilitate a targeted exchange from a number of stakeholders on the ten-year strategic plan and to foster awareness of, and buy-in among, relevant policy and decision makers. The Dialogue consisted of three segments, which addressed policy development, mobilizing for a forward-looking strategy, and Parties' views on responses to emerging challenges. Links to further information UNCCD High-Level Dialogue website IISD RS coverage

The fifth conference of the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTPC5), “Growing towards the future – joint innovation for successful forest-based business in Europe,” was held in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, from 19-21 May 2008. Representatives of business, research and European institutions presented to more than 200 participants on how to make innovation in forest-based business work. Participants discussed, inter alia, creating added value to products and services, dealing with increased scarcity of raw materials, and promoting innovation through people management and creation of optimal conditions for fostering creativity. The conference presentations are available online. Link to further information The conference website
CSD-16 Completes Review of Agriculture, Desertification, Africa

May 2008: Delegates to the sixteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD16), which convened at UN headquarters in New York, US, from 5-16 May 2008, reviewed the thematic cluster of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. Throughout CSD-16, participants highlighted the connections between the session's thematic agenda and both the current food crisis and climate change, and highlighted the drivers of food prices, including land degradation, high energy costs, climate change, poor harvests, speculation in agricultural commodities, inequitable terms of trade, decline of investments in agricultural and rural development, and increased production of biofuels from food crops. A Chair's Summary outlines the issues discussed. Delegates will attain take up these issues at the May 2009 meeting of CSD17, during which policy recommendations will be negotiated. [IISD RS coverage]

The eighth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF8) was held from 20 April - 1 May 2008, at UN Headquarters in New York. Over 600 participants attended the two-week session, to address: means of implementation for sustainable forest management (SFM); and forests in a changing environment, including forests and climate change, reversing the loss of forest cover and degradation, and forests and biodiversity conservation. After an all-night session on the last night of the session, delegates adopted a resolution on forests in a changing environment, enhanced cooperation and cross-sectoral policy and programme coordination, and regional and subregional inputs. Delegates were not able to agree on a decision on financing for SFM. The principle contention from the outset were the disparate views of developing countries and donor countries: the G-77/China favored the establishment of a global forest fund as soon as possible; and JUSCANZ and the EU preferred to establish a facilitative process to, inter alia, enable easier access to current funding and create enabling conditions for private sector and other investment. Delegates almost reached agreement on setting up a process to consider recommendations on the establishment of the fund, but attempts to find compromise text did not result in a reconciliation of the needs of both donor and recipient countries. Delegates ultimately decided to forward bracketed negotiating text to the Forum's next session. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of UNFF8

April 2008


Over 500 people, including high-level forestry officials, attended the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week held in Hanoi, Viet Nam, from 21-26 April 2008, to share perspectives and seek solutions to the most challenging issues facing forests and forestry today. Anchored around the 22nd session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, one of the six regional forestry commissions supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, this meeting included special sessions on forests and poverty, forests and climate change, trade, timber certification, forest law enforcement and governance, and forestry investment. Link to further information Conference website

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) hosted a “Forest Day” event in Yaoundé, Cameroon on 24 April 2008, to help shape the debate on forests and climate change in Central Africa. Participants analyzed the issues surrounding forests and climate change, with the aim of informing climate policies in the region. Debates and presentations centered on, inter alia: reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and associated markets and governance; pilot projects and their technical, monitoring and data-related challenges; and financing mechanisms. Link to further information CIFOR media release, 24 April 2008

The IUCN and WWF hosted a workshop on adaptation to climate change in Mediterranean forest conservation and management, from 14-17 April 2008, in Athens, Greece. Participants discussed ways to increase forest and social resilience to major disturbances, such as large scale fires, which are exacerbated by climate change. Participants also discussed a strategy for Mediterranean forest adaptation to climate change, which IUCN and WWF will follow up with the development of a joint work programme. Links to further information IUCN event announcement, 2 March 2008

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) hosted a meeting of senior representatives of member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) to initiate the elaboration of a strategic framework that would provide a coherent inter-agency response to the climate change agenda. At the meeting, which convened in Rome, Italy, on 17 April 2008, CPF members agreed that the strategic framework would: facilitate countries' preparations for the post-2012 climate regime through information; contribute to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFF and other relevant agreements; and enhance coordinated action on the ground, including integration of relevant climate change aspects into sustainable forest management (SFM) in a cross-sectoral and coherent manner. The strategy would give particular attention to specific needs related to deforestation and forest degradation, and would bring together the collective knowledge and experiences of the CPF members in dealing with complex issues such as forest law compliance, support to livelihoods, and integrating conservation aspects into land use planning. (IISD RS sources).

A country-led initiative in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) on decentralization and forest governance in Africa convened from 8-11 April 2008, in Durban, South Africa. This international workshop brought together stakeholders, policy makers and experts to share experiences and explore opportunities for generating concrete gains from governance reforms and decentralized forest management. Keynote speakers drew links between conservation and democratization, arguing that decentralization in the forest sector could be an important lever for democratization and for strengthening mechanisms for representation and accountability. Working group sessions and several paper presentations addressed country experiences with: decentralized forest management and livelihoods; conservation, SFM and governance; and international trade, finance and forest sector governance reform, particularly in the context of earlier structural adjustment reforms undertaken by many African countries. Proposed recommendations and lessons that emerged included the necessity of strengthening institutional adaptive capacities and mechanisms for negotiation among interest groups, conflict resolution and collaboration to achieve common goals. Participants proposed recommendations to improve equity in forest revenue sharing and enhance reinvestment in the forest sector and local social services for forest communities. Participants also recognized the need for new analytical tools with which to understand and respond to the market and global trends in Africa for the benefit of local people and forests. Links to further information The conference website UNFF Secretariat statement

At an international workshop on climate change and forest peoples, held in Manaus, Brazil, from 1-4 April 2008, representatives of forest communities from 13 countries announced the formation of a new coalition to demand greater representation and respect for forest dwellers in future climate change negotiations. The Manaus Declaration, signed by 11 countries from Central and South America and observer delegations from Indonesia and the Congo Basin, established the International Alliance of Forest Peoples, and calls on governments to respect forest dwellers' rights to their land, natural resources and their traditional ways of life, particularly when considering compensation for environmental services such as a carbon-trading plan. Links to further information Rights and Resources Initiative News Posting International Herald Tribune, 5 April 2008

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), along with the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), convened a regional workshop on afrormosia (Pericopsis elata), a tropical hardwood listed in CITES Appendix II, in Kribi, Cameroon, from 2-4 April 2008. Over 30 participants from the main range states in central and west Africa, as well as importing countries, NGOs, timber trade representatives and international organizations, developed a participatory action plan to help ensure that international trade in afrormosia is consistent with its sustainable management and conservation in Africa. The action plan includes: building capacity of exporting and importing countries to implement CITES and manage afrormosia sustainably; improving ecological and silvicultural knowledge of the species; promoting support programmes for its regeneration; and relevant governance and marketing issues. Link to further information ITTO media release, 15 April 2008

March 2008


The Forest Industry Division of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) co-hosted with the Bolivian Forestry Chamber an Investment Forum to analyze investment opportunities in the Bolivian tropical forestry sector. Held from 26-27 March 2008, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, the Forum was attended by representatives from the private sector, investors and the Inter-American Development Bank, and Bolivian and international experts from the forestry sector. Participants discussed investment incentives, analysis of the major international markets for tropical wood, industrial plantations, bioenergy, carbon markets and investment opportunities with the region. The forum ran in parallel to the EXPOFOREST international wood and wood technology trade fair, which was attended by over 9500 people. Link to further information The conference website

February 2008

Expert Group Discusses Land, Africa Before CSD-16

February 2008: The Expert Group Meeting on Land for Sustainable Urbanisation in Africa, which convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 21-22 February 2008, was convened to prepare for the thematic reviews on Land and Africa at the upcoming sixteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), which will take place in New York, US, from 5-16 May 2008. The meeting provided an opportunity for African participants who will be attending CSD-16 to discuss urban land issues that can inform decision making in the African context. Participants identified emerging issues requiring attention, emphasized the need for innovation in Africa's land management, called for recognition of the dynamic nature of land tenure systems in Africa, proposed off-farm activities to increase Africa's land productivity, and called for improvement in information management to streamline land administration and attain better governance. [IISD RS meeting coverage]

A joint meeting of the Near East Forestry Commission and the Africa Forestry and Wildlife Commission, held in Khartoum, Sudan, from 18-22 February 2008, highlighted the links between forests and climate change. About 160 participants from more than 50 countries discussed: the importance of forests in the energy strategies for countries in both regions; the development of guidelines for best forestry practices in arid and semi-arid zones; improvement of the conservation of water and watershed management; and improvement of wildfire management. Participants identified ways to mobilize resources and improve international cooperation to address these critical issues. Link to further information FAO News Release, 18 February 2008

More than 100 international experts, many of them development and trade specialists, convened in Washington, DC, US, on 14 February 2008 to discuss illegal logging at Forest Trends 2nd Annual Potomac Forum on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. The Forum focused on issues pertinent to North American organizations, businesses and markets, including developments in both exporting and importing of wood products. Participants learned of US legislative amendments to stop imports of illegal wood and bilateral agreements on illegal logging and forest governance. Link to further information Illegal Logging News Release, 15 February 2008

The Expert Panel on Adaptation of Forests to Climate Change, convened as part of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, met from 11-12 February 2008 in New York, US. Building on information provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Expert Panel is carrying out a sector-specific assessment of current knowledge concerning, inter alia: the interrelationship between the climate and forest ecosystems; threats and future impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems and socio-economic impacts on the forest sector; and adaptation practices, options and constraints. At this first of three planned meetings in 2008, the Panel began work on an Assessment Report, which will be externally reviewed and published in time for the 8th session of the UN Forum on Forests in 2009 (IISDRS Sources).

Participants at the third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, which took place from 4-9 February 2008, in Madrid, Spain, and was organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have adopted the Madrid Declaration, which underlines that biosphere reserves can spur efforts “to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to promote the greater use of renewable energy,” as well as to tackle challenges such as the loss of traditional knowledge and cultural diversity. Conference participants also adopted the Madrid Action Plan, mapping out the Man and the Biosphere Programme's strategy and actions for 2008-2013, which emphasizes the need to use biosphere reserves to demonstrate effective responses to poverty, growing urbanization, climate change and desertification. UNESCO's world network of biosphere reserves now includes 531 reserves spread over 105 countries, following the addition of the Rostowsky Biosphere Reserve in Russia and the Islas Marietas Biosphere Reserve off Mexico's western coast. The Rostowsky reserve provides a habitat for more than 460 species of plants, 30 species of mammals and 200 species of birds, while the Islas Marietas is home to many species of coral, the humpback whale and other mammals, birds and fish. At each reserve listed in the network, local communities try to enhance their socioeconomic development while promoting biodiversity conservation. Links to further information UNESCO news release, 11 February 2008 World Congress on Biosphere Reserves website

The Legislators Forum of the G8 countries and five developing countries (China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico), which met in Brasilia, Brazil, in February, called for several legislative and market measures at the national and international level to help combat illegal logging. These measures include: a global system for recognizing source countries' licensing schemes for legal timber; introduction of domestic legislation within G8 consumer countries that would make importing illegally produced timber (according to the laws of the producer country) an offense in the consumer country; and building protected markets for legal and sustainable timber products in consumer countries. The Forum recommended that the G8 support the introduction of a global Forest Transparency Initiative, designed to establish parliamentary oversight through committees in producer and consumer countries, and make available financial information that can improve accountability and governance of national forest resources. The Forum also made a number of proposals to stimulate allocation of investment capital to the tropical forestry sector. Links to further information BBC News Release, 21 February 2008 Agreed Illegal Logging Outcomes from GLOBE Brazil Legislator...

January 2008


Co-hosted by the Swiss and Australian governments, a region-led initiative (RLI) in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 28-30 January 2008. The first of its kind, the RLI brought together 49 participants from forest-related regional and sub-regional organizations, UNFF 8 Bureau members, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and selected country experts. Participants identified priority areas for regional and sub-regional organizations, including implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM), capacity building and mobilization of financing. Participants expressed their views regarding challenges faced in implementing SFM, including: translating high-level policy into action; means of implementation and the need for information exchange; and integrating forestry issues into national development strategies. They also discussed the interaction between the regional and sub-regional organizations and UNFF. Link to further information Report of the meeting

The Beijing International Conference on Combating Desertification, which was co-organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the State Forestry Administration of the People's Republic of China (SFA), convened from 22-24 January 2008 in Beijing, China. The Conference was convened as an intersessional event in contribution to the 16th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), which will address the issue of desertification, along with agriculture, land, drought, rural development, and Africa, in May 2008. The objective of the Conference was to provide opportunities for ministerial statements and panel discussions in thematic sessions and to guide and facilitate an in-depth review of barriers and constraints as well as policy options and practical measures in combating desertification. Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Minister Francis Nhema, CSD 16 Chair, Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Anada Tiega, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Minister Jia Zhibang, State Forestry Administration of China, and ministers from other countries participated in the meeting. China's Vice Premier Hui Liangyu addressed the opening ceremony of the Conference, which was attended by over 250 representatives from 60 countries and 18 UN organizations, as well as representatives from NGOs, regional and international organizations. Hui emphasized the need to: effectively implement the UNCCD and fulfill the commitments made under the Convention; formulate and implement national strategies to combat desertification and incorporate them into national plans for social and economic development; and change production and consumption patterns and follow the path of sustainable development. Participants adopted a Beijing Statement on combating desertification. Based on Sha Zukang's presentation during a press conference at its conclusion, Conference participants' common understandings included: the need to strengthen the implementation of the Ten-year Strategic Plan and Framework adopted at UNCCD COP-8 as well as the coordination of implementation of the UNCCD, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity; forests play an important role in preventing and controlling land degradation and restoring degraded land; National Action Plans offer an effective tool in combating desertification and should be implemented in coordination among relevant government agencies, including central government agencies and local governments; multilateral and bilateral regional cooperation should be strengthened; partnerships and strategic alliances are critical instruments; and international development cooperation, including ODA, can play an important role in investing in addressing land degradation, while central and local governments should take effective measures to mobilize financial resources (IISD RS Sources). Links to further information Meeting website Beijing Statement