Summary report, 13–16 March 1995

12th Session of COFO

The 12th session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)Committee on Forestry (COFO) met at FAO headquarters in Rome from 13-16 March1995. A meeting of national ministers responsible for forestry followed on 16-17March 1995. COFO members discussed the role of FAO in forestry, particularlyrelated to sustainable forest management. They considered the development of criteriaand indicators for sustainable forest management (SFM), issues of trade andenvironment, and a possible FAO role in the open-ended ad hocintergovernmental panel on forests, proposed by the Commission on SustainableDevelopment (CSD) intersessional meeting. COFO delegates also negotiated the RomeStatement on Forestry, which the ministerial meeting adopted and forwarded to CSD.


The COFO meeting was attended by 113 States members of COFO, 17 observerStates, four UN agencies, and 18 intergovernmental and nongovernmentalorganizations. Outgoing COFO Chair, Hassan Osman Abdel Nour (Sudan), opened themeeting. Mr. H.W. Hjort, Deputy Director General of FAO, welcomed delegates,suggesting that the meeting was unique for COFO, having been preceded byconsultations with representatives from the private sector and from conservation anddevelopment NGOs and that the meeting will be followed by the ministerial session.He said that FAO is providing a forum for convergence of efforts to develop criteriaand indicators (C & I) for sustainable forestry, and asked delegates for their views onFAO activities related to UNCED follow-up, on the suggested CSD panel, on the tradeimplications of C & I, and whether the Forest Principles should evolve further.

After adoption of the agenda (COFO-95/INF. 1 - Rev. 1), Mr. John Valentine (NewZealand) was elected Chair, Mr. Abeedullah Jan (Pakistan) first Vice-Chair, and JanIlavsky (Slovak Republic), Rabie Fal"ah (Iran), Pedro Medrano Rojas (Chile), MoorosiRaditapole (Lesotho) and Yvan Hardy (Canada) Vice-Chairs. Mr. W.F. Sheridan (UK)was elected Rapporteur. A working group was formed, chaired by Amb. AlvarGurgel Alencar (Brazil), to develop the ministerial statement.

THE MANAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OFFORESTS - THE 1995 CSD REVIEW: On Monday and Tuesday, 13-14March, delegates discussed overall issues of forests and sustainable development,based on a set of documents: COFO-95/2 (The Management, Conservation andsustainable development of forests: major issues - preparing for CSD); COFO-95/2 -Supp.1 (Regional perspectives); COFO-95/2 - Supp.2 (Forestry initiatives related toUNCED follow-up); COFO-95/2 - Supp. 3 (Expert consultation on the harmonizationof criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (Rome, 13-16 February1995) - summary report); COFO-95/2 - Supp. 4 (Assessing the advantages anddisadvantages of a legally binding instrument on forests); COFO-95/2 - Supp. 5(Meeting the private forest industry sector on UNCED follow-up (Rome, 8 March1995) - summary report); and COFO-95/2 - Supp.6 (Meeting with NGOs on forestry(Rome, 10-11 March 1995) - summary report). (Editor"s note: These documents areavailable on the Linkages World Wide Web Server at

The European Union welcomed the results of the Helsinki process on Criteria andIndicators for Sustainable Management of European Forests. He recommendeddevelopment of a legally binding instrument on all types of forests and pointed to theneed for progress on certification of timber from sustainably managed forests. Hesupported establishment of an intergovernmental panel under the CSD, suggesting ajoint secretariat under FAO and UNEP, with assistance from other UN agencies andthe secretariats of the biodiversity and desertification conventions.

The US said FAO should continue to seek a better balance between environmental anddevelopmental functions of forests in its programmes. He said FAO priorities shouldinclude information gathering and forest resource assessments, and that FAO shouldfocus on technical assistance in SFM. He said development of C & I, through thevarious processes, had produced complementary, compatible results, but added that thedifferent C & I processes need to be implemented, not harmonized or globalized. Hesupported study and exploration of certification and labeling schemes, but noted thatother organizations were already working in this area so that FAO should not play amajor role. He said national level C & I are not a basis for certification at the forestunit or stand level. He recommended that FAO be more open to NGO observers, andsupported the proposed CSD panel as the appropriate forum for moving forward theinternational forest policy debate. The panel should be facilitated by the UNDepartment for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD), withFAO providing technical support in areas within its competence.

Brazil said countries should abide by the Forest Principles and relevant chapters ofAgenda 21. He suggested that the Forest Principles have not yet been applied, and thatit is premature to discuss a binding convention on forests. FAO should be part of theprocess in its recognized technical role as task manager.

Malaysia agreed with the call in COFO-95/2 for harmonization of C & I for SFM atthe global level. He said that certification of timber can only be effective followingestablishment of internationally agreed C & I, developed through an intergovernmentalprocess involving all stakeholders. He said any certification scheme should be: appliedto all timber and timber products as well as non-timber substitutes; based oninternationally agreed criteria; based on a realistic time frame for achieving SFM; andused without becoming a non-tariff trade barrier. He categorically opposed a forestprotocol under the Biodiversity Treaty, noting that biodiversity conservation is onlyone of many forest functions. He said implementation of the Forest Principles indeveloping countries required transfer of environmentally sound technologies andadequate financial resources on concessional and preferential terms. He stated that theproposed CSD panel should not prejudge the need for a legally binding instrument onforests.

Canada stressed the progress of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Forests,whose proposed options and approaches are intended for potential inclusion in theproposed CSD panel"s work. He noted that the various efforts to establish scientificallybased C & I are key to promoting global consensus on forests. He suggested FAOcould play a role in involving countries not yet participating in the process, facilitatinga convergence between C & I initiatives and responding to requests from the CSDmay make under the proposed intergovernmental panel. The CSD should continue toact as the primary venue for global policy discussion on forests, and its panel shouldbe open, transparent and inclusive. FAO has an essential technical role to playsupporting the policy work under the CSD panel. He said there is a need for a legallybinding instrument on all forests and all forest values. He supported voluntary, non-legislated certification of forest products as a means of facilitating non-discriminatorytrade.

Norway said that future activities should include all concerned countries and groups,especially indigenous peoples. He said any establishment of a legally bindinginstrument for forests must be done in a holistic and balanced manner through a step-by-step and non-confrontational process. He said the CSD panel proposal was apositive step toward this process. The Netherlands said FAO should take the initiativeto develop terms of reference for the CSD panel in cooperation with other UNagencies. He supported the EU"s recommendation to seek consensus on a step-by-stepprocess toward a legally binding instrument. He strongly supported transparency andparticipation in the process, especially for indigenous and forest dwelling groups,whose presence he said had been only window dressing or forbidden in the past.

The Czech Republic stressed the difficulties of countries with economies in transitionin information access and institutional capacity to implement international measures.He called for more comparable rules for creating common databases and evaluatingprivate sector forestry and state actions.

Austria said the international community should take further steps to establish anegotiating process for a legally binding agreement, first establishing the need for andfeasibility of an instrument. While it is necessary to develop a more completeunderstanding of ecological functions of forests, he said decisions can not wait fortotal certainty.

The Republic of Korea said COFO should review the adequacy of the ForestPrinciples, noting that there is no mechanism for their implementation. He said CSDshould assume responsibility in negotiating a legally binding instrument with fullparticipation of all groups including NGOs. South Africa did not support a legallybinding agreement, because limited resources mean it would have difficulty abiding bysuch an agreement. Trinidad and Tobago said guidelines, frameworks, and criteria areuseful, but each sovereign country must work out its own solution according toecological, cultural and other factors. He supported the first of three options in theCOFO document, that countries should work toward developing and evaluating theForest Principles but not develop any new instrument. Sudan also supported the firstoption.

Finland supported a coordinated process for further consensus and implementingforestry related decisions. He said only a separate forest convention can take intoaccount socioeconomic and environmental factors and integrate national andinternational resources. He endorsed FAO"s activities in forest resources assessmentand information, emphasized FAO"s assistance toward capacity building and NationalForest Action Plans and said the FAO regional forestry commissions are of ultimateimportance.

The UK said the proposed CSD panel should prepare the basis for convergence of C& I initiatives, identify and commission research on forest and environmental issues,prepare the basis of certification and labeling for products from sustainable forests,consider a binding agreement and identify its elements, and consider the best way todeliver SFM and conservation.

The Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) called for FAO to include moreresearch in the international debate on forests, noting that CIFOR is testing C & I inthe field.

Myanmar called for caution in developing a legally binding instrument, noting thatlegality should not be in conflict with national sovereignty over forest resources ornational responsibility for their development. Indonesia proposed a discussion of non-wood forest products and said that COFO should recommend establishing an FAOadvisory committee on the subject. He said the recent efforts on C & I could lead toconfusion if no consensus is reached. Senegal endorsed the development of a legallybinding instrument, with immediate negotiations initiated by the UN GeneralAssembly. Colombia said C & I can not be established until a legally bindinginstrument is discussed, but he said they could be included under the CSD or theBiodiversity Convention.

India said that FAO should go beyond being task manager for the Forest Principles.He said all initiatives should be FAO-driven and that FAO can be a vanguard forefforts following Rio.

WWF International said there is confusion between C & I and certification. Shesupported certification efforts already underway by the Forest Stewardship Council.She noted that national C & I initiatives have not considered how they will contributeto SFM, but instead have been technically oriented and developed without broadparticipation. The World Rainforest Movement said emphasis was too great on povertyand population as causes of deforestation, with too little attention to consumerism andimposition on the rights of indigenous peoples. He noted that higher value for forestproducts could cause increased deforestation, and called for penalties for forestdestruction as well as incentives for conservation. He said respect for indigenous andother forest communities is critical in development of any C & I, and that existinginternational instruments on indigenous peoples should be respected. GreenpeaceInternational said consensus at COFO pointed to the need for a mandate and directionfor FAO in technical services, information and assessments. She said DPCSD shouldprovide the secretariat for the proposed CSD panel, because DPCSD is a neutralagency. C & I should not be forced into harmonization without testing first at nationallevels. She criticized the process to date because: the motivation has been to set rulesfor forest product trade; it has not addressed diversity in forest use and value, and ithas not been participatory. The Sierra Club, representing the Global Forest PolicyProject, noted the recent FAO experts meeting"s conclusion that use of indicators ispremature. He questioned whether criteria can be effectively harmonized if they areonly very general statements. He said FAO"s organizational change is only beginning,so it is not the time for FAO to assume expanded new duties. The InternationalAlliance of Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests said any international agreement orprocess must recognize self determination of indigenous peoples, their long-termpresence in forests, and principles of existing indigenous peoples" declarations.

UNDP noted its work in country capacity building for national forest programmes andpromised to collaborate fully with the proposed CSD intergovernmental panel. TheWorld Bank suggested two additions to the proposed FAO agenda: direct steps forcooperation between FAO and the World Bank and other intergovernmentalorganizations on forest programmes; and consideration of the role of forestry inpoverty reduction.

REVIEW OF FAO FIELD PROGRAMMES, DECISIONS ANDRECOMMENDATIONS: On Tuesday and Wednesday, 14-15 March, delegatesconsidered a review of FAO"s field programmes in the medium- and long-term, basedon COFO-95/3 (Programme implementation and evaluation reports), COFO-95/4 (Longand medium-term and 1996-97 priorities for forestry) and COFO-95/Inf. 6 (Summaryof the proceedings of the expert consultation on non-wood forest products). Canadanoted that the documents did not include means of measuring achievement. He pointedto the need for an increase in FAO"s budget for forests, improved policy analysis,increased involvement of women and indigenous groups and improvement of theNational Forest Action Plan process. Australia called for increased recognition ofwomen"s role in forestry, especially in community forestry. China said priority shouldbe given to strengthening national forest departments, strengthening resources andencouraging reforestation, rational utilization of forests including non-wood products,and human resource development and training.

On Wednesday 15 March COFO also reviewed COFO-95/5 (Decisions of FAOGoverning Bodies of interest to the Committee), COFO-95/6 (Recommendations ofother FAO Statutory Bodies in forestry of interest to the Committee) and COFO-97/7(Follow-up to the requests and recommendations of the eleventh session of theCommittee). The Netherlands urged establishment of a center of excellence in non-wood products and the inclusion of non-wood products in national accounts. Canadaemphasized the work of FAO"s regional forestry commissions and urged that they beused to enhance forestry dialogue. Greece requested greater information about FAObudgets and called for enhanced public relations efforts on behalf of foresters. Gabonnoted the lack of information from the African regional forestry commission. Chinaendorsed a leading role for regional forestry commissions and said FAO should helpcountries in the transition from planned to market economies. Malaysia said FAOshould take the lead in assisting developing countries to implement the ForestPrinciples and Agenda 21"s forest provisions. Algeria noted that desertification andforest fires are not addressed in the documents. The US said the regional commissionsshould investigate scientific and technical aspects of forestry, and that FAO shouldprovide a budget for these functions.

COFO FINAL REPORT: Delegates adopted the COFO report (COFO-95/REP) during an evening session Wednesday 15 March and in a session just prior tothe ministerial meeting on Thursday 16 March. The report recommends that FAOshould respond positively to the CSD intersessional recommendation to establish anintergovernmental panel under the aegis of CSD, and that FAO should be prepared toparticipate in the process. A specific reference to that participation "possibly in asecretariat capacity" was deleted from the first draft of the report after Australia,Brazil and Malaysia objected. The report states that FAO should continue to workclosely and build partnerships with other international organizations and agencies andshould continue to work in an open and transparent manner with private forestindustry sector and NGOs.

The report notes that some delegations expressed support for a legally bindinginstrument, and that others thought it premature or undesirable. Considering thedifference of views, COFO agreed the way forward should be based on consensus-building in a step-by-step process.

After considerable debate on specific language, a paragraph on broadeningparticipation calls for involvement of indigenous and local communities, the privatesector and NGOs in the planning, design and implementation of programmes andpolicies relating to sustainable forest management and utilization. It also refers to theneed to consider gender issues.

The report discusses C & I as part of the need to define basic principles of SFM, notessome delegations" concerns about premature attempts at harmonization and requeststhat FAO promote exchange of information, research results, data and experiencebetween the various initiatives and among countries that have not been part of theprocesses. It recognized that policies and actions on formulation of C & I at thenational level are the responsibility of sovereign nations but that international actioncould provide guidance and catalyze action. Testing and demonstration are to becarried out with close involvement of all concerned, and FAO should assist countries.The meeting recognized the need for complementarity between C & I at national and,where relevant, forest management unit levels. It points to the contribution indicatorsat these levels could make in clarifying environment and trade issues, includingincentive systems and forest product certification. The report states the need to preventenvironmental policies from serving as disguised trade barriers and recognizescertification as a potential means of promoting trade in products from sustainablymanaged forests, with some delegations calling for assurance that certification not beused as a non-tariff trade barrier.

The report recommends increasing FAO"s forestry budget, and requests FAO toconcentrate on areas in which it has a comparative advantage, including analysis anddissemination of data and information, policy advice, coordination, advocacy andtechnical assistance. Other priorities include the Global Forest Resources Assessment,technical information for UNCED follow-up and C & I development, communityforestry programmes and National Forestry Action Plans as a vehicle for capacitybuilding. It gives special priority to FAO"s CSD task manager role for forestry and insupport of a potential intergovernmental panel on forests.


The working group on a ministerial statement met throughout the week, during boththe COFO and ministerial meetings. Discussions in the group began with a draftstatement distributed by FAO prior to the meeting. The Latin American and Caribbeangroup proposed an alternative, and by Tuesday, the EU and JUSCANZ groups hadalso submitted drafts. Amb. Gurgel held discussions on the various drafts Tuesdayafternoon.

The main issues in dispute were the role of FAO, particularly relative to the proposedCSD intergovernmental panel on forests, whether the statement would make specificrecommendations on terms of reference for the CSD panel, the strength of anyreference or recommendation on a legally binding instrument, and whether thedocument would be titled a commitment, a consensus, a declaration or a statement.

The EU argued strongly that the document should endorse a strong leadership role forFAO and should call for negotiations on a legally binding agreement. Its draftcontained specific instructions for the CSD panel"s work, including preparing for aconsensus on C & I, developing the basis of a framework for timber certification, andexamining the need for and feasibility of a legally binding instrument and its elements.The EU text called for FAO to be part of a joint effort to establish theintergovernmental panel.

The JUSCANZ statement called for demonstration and testing of C & I, dialogue ontrade and environment, work toward non-discriminatory trade in forest products, and areview of existing international organizations and agreements. Its section on an FAOcontribution suggested identifying FAO forest priorities and strengths, development ofcommon definitions, data collection and reporting for C & I, improved utilization ofregional commissions and cooperation with other organizations. Its message to CSDwelcomed the intergovernmental panel, forwarded the ministerial document to CSDand noted FAO"s priorities and strengths.

The Latin American group"s text, called The Rome Consensus on Forestry,recommended that further efforts be made to ensure the foundations laid by UNCEDare rendered solid enough to build upon. It said that what is needed is a determinationto achieve the objectives so far agreed upon. It called on FAO to continue to musterits technical expertise and to cooperate closely with the CSD. The text expressedsupport for the proposed CSD intergovernmental panel to provide an assessment ofactions already taken to fulfill the commitments and responsibilities arising from theRio Conference.


In informal discussions on Tuesday, a developing country said sections of the proposaldefining responsibilities of the CSD panel were problematic, especially regarding alegally binding instrument. A developed country delegate said a weak or overlygeneral statement could undermine the credibility of ministers and the FAO and couldquestion the utility of the meeting. He asked whether delegates were willing to commitFAO forestry suicide, and warned that if issues where consensus did not exist were notdealt with here, they would be addressed elsewhere. A developing country regionalgroup expressed concern at the omission of difficulties since Rio and the need tosupport national forest programmes. The first developing country mentioned abovesaid the elements should include continued work on the Forest Principles,development, application and convergence of C & I, non-discriminatory trade,financial resources and transfer of technology, capacity building for developingcountries and a concerted effort in the greening of the world. He said the CSD panelwould have to be addressed at the CSD meeting, but that the group could send amessage. Wednesday the Chair formed a small contact group including representativesfrom the regional groups. The contact group met Wednesday and Thursday, producinga new draft Thursday morning titled The Rome Statement on Forestry. It included aseries of priorities from the ministerial meeting, and a statement that regarding thecontroversial idea of a legally binding instrument on forests, the way forward shouldbe based on consensus-building in a step-by-step process. On the CSD panel, the draftutilized language from the COFO report, recommending that the FAO should respondpositively and be prepared to participate.


The first meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry was held in Rome at FAOHeadquarters from 16-17 March 1995, immediately following the Twelfth Session ofthe Committee on Forestry. Following opening remarks from the Director General ofFAO, Mr. Jacques Diouf, and the election of officers, the meeting heard statementsfrom several dozen ministers, two UN agencies, and NGOs. In parallel to the Plenarysession, a drafting group met non-stop throughout the first day, late into the night andearnestly during the following morning to finalize a declaration that was approved bythe Ministers at mid-day.


The Rome Statement on Forestry recognized the action taken at all levels throughnational forest programmes, various initiatives and international cooperation, but calledfor further enhancements of national capabilities and international cooperation andcoordination. It reaffirmed a holistic approach to forests and a determination to attainthe objectives from UNCED in the shortest time possible, while pursuing a balancedapproach between the environmental and developmental functions of forests. Theministers emphasized the need for cross-sectoral approaches and effective and coherentnational forest action plans, as well as efforts toward the greening of the world andcombating desertification. Further, they underlined the need for action to: develop andapply criteria and indicators for sustainable management of all types of forests;enhance international cooperation; properly value the multiple benefits of forests;promote non-discriminatory trade in forest products; and recognize the benefits ofgreater participation and transparency in all matters related to forests. Regarding alegally-binding instrument on forests, they considered that the way forward should bebased on a consensus-building step-by-step process. They called on FAO to muster itstechnical expertise to advise and cooperate with countries in developing their capacityin the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests, taking anintegrated approach. The meeting, "trusts that the UN Commission on SustainableDevelopment will, at its third session, show significant progress in discharging itsfunctions as the political body mandated to review and promote the implementation ofUNCED"s decisions in the field of forests in their entirety. In this connection, theMeeting welcomed the proposal to consider the establishment of an open-endedintergovernmental panel on forests, under the aegis of the CSD, to provide anassessment of action already undertaken to combat deforestation and forest degradationand to promote management, conservation and sustainable development of all types offorests, including environmental and socio-economic impacts; and against thatbackground to propose actions for further action. The Meeting recommended that FAOshould respond positively to that proposal and be prepared to participate in thisprocess." Finally, the Minister"s requested that the Chair of the Ministerial sessionshould transmit the statement to the CSD during its April 1995 discussions on sectoralissues and, subsequently, to the High-Level Segment of the CSD.


FAO: The Director-General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, welcomed the Ministersand introduced the new head of the Forestry Department, Mr. David Harcharik. Herecognized the range of recent forest-related initiatives but noted that they should beplaced in a proper framework. He said that the Ministerial meeting was an adequateforum since they were the highest governmental authority and are entrusted with theresponsibility to commit governments in international discussions on forestry. Heconsidered it important that this group meet regularly. Diouf called the majorchallenge to sustain the multiple functions of forests and trees, including to protect thesoil and water base for agriculture and, therefore for food security. FAO is calling fora new "green revolution", learning from mistakes in the past to adapt scientifically andmake it more compatible with ecological balance and address issues of social equity.He said that FAO"s programmes would improve coordination between sectors in orderto pursue consistent approaches. Diouf said that FAO is under renewal, becomingmore efficient, consolidating field operation, decentralizing, investing incommunication technologies to facilitate access to information and strengtheningpartnerships with other institutions, the private sector, IGOs, NGOs, donors and theWorld Bank on the basis of respective comparative advantages. FAO has increased itsfinancial commitment to forestry by 2% during the 1994-1995 biennium. On post-UNCED forestry, he noted areas where less progress had been made including:insufficient consensus on forest issues; slow progress towards agreement on attributesof sustainable forest management and associated criteria and indicators for measuringprogress towards its achievement; continued use of environment-related unilateralrestriction on international trade in forest products; and lack of clear position onwhether the Forest Principles should remain as they are or evolve further. Regardingcooperation with the CSD, he noted the recommendation of the Ad-HocIntersessional Working Group of the CSD but asked Ministers to consider theimplications of this recommendation on agency responsibilities, particularly in regardto substituting the CSD for mandates entrusted by Member States to the agencies. Hehoped that the Ministers would provide guidance to FAO and orient the review anddecisions of the CSD in the right direction.

The meeting elected the Chair, Mr. John Falloon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry andRacing of New Zealand, and the Vice-Chairs. Falloon proposed that the NGOs allowedto attend the COFO be invited to attend the Ministerial session. This was adoptedwithout debate. The Chair then proposed that Ministers would table copies of theirspeeches allowing time to engage in a discussion on achieving a result of theconference. He proposed the establishment of a working group that would work inparallel to the Plenary to draft a statement that would give clear guidance to the CSDat its Third Session. The meeting then heard a report from Mr. Valentine (NewZealand), Chair of the COFO, which summarized the Twelfth Session of theCommittee. (see above).

PRIVATE SECTOR: Bo Wergens, Chair of the Swedish Forest IndustriesAssociation, spoke on behalf of the private forest industry sector. He reported on themeeting held the previous week between the private sector and FAO, noting that theyare committed to helping FAO carry out its work related to the Forest Principles andendorsed FAO"s role as task manager. He called for a study of supply trends through2010. Certification is a market tool to promote sustainable forest management, but itshould be practical, transparent, verifiable, measurable, agreed on a voluntary basisand applied at the local level. He said that non-discriminatory trade policies arenecessary to achieve sustainable forest management and that the forest industry is thedriving force in giving value added to forest lands by applying sustainable forestry.

NGOs: Miguel Lovera (IUCN Netherlands), speaking on behalf of a varietyof national and international NGOs, expressed concern that high-level FAO policydecisions have, in some cases, undermined effective on-the-ground NGO-FAOcollaboration and that FAO has failed to build a broad-based consultative mechanismon forestry issues, in some countries, at the local level. Combating deforestationrequires a resolution of conflicts of interests in favor of marginalized groups andthrough the full recognition of indigenous peoples" rights to their territories. He notedelements from the report on the Meeting with NGOs on Forestry, held in Rome on 10-11 March 1995 (COFO-95/2 Supp. 6) that decision-making on forests in the CSDprocess should not be the responsibility of any single UN agency and that the UNDepartment for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) should bethe focal point for coordinating a working panel on forests. Lovera expressed concernthat FAO was seeking a mandate to harmonize the criteria and indicators processesand the possible development of a forest convention based on this harmonization.NGOs strongly opposed the idea that Minister"s might recommend delegating theresponsibility of resolving forest product trade and environment issues to WTO, ITTOand FAO since GATT and WTO have no record of allowing NGO and other majorgroups" participation.

(Editor"s note: Despite the best intentions of the Chair, many Ministers could notresist the temptation to read from prepared speeches. The following are highlightstaken from some of both the delivered statements and tabled texts.)

THAILAND: The Minister praised efforts of the global community inseeking sustainable forest management and noted that problems cannot be resolved onan ad hoc basis or isolated from other socio-economic problems. He urged theWorld Bank to speed up funding mechanisms and urged the international partners tohelp countries with national forest action plans (NFAPs).

HUNGARY: The Minister said that FAO should quickly implement therecommendations of COFO and that both the Helsinki and Strasbourg MinisterialConferences correctly determined the necessary first steps for implementing the forestprinciples. He called attention to FAO"s coordinating role.

JAPAN: Yoshio Yatsu, Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheriesacknowledged that the CSD Intersessional decision to establish an open-ended inter-governmental panel reflects the strong interest of the international community towardthe forestry issues. Effective measures with the best present knowledge need to becarried out on the ground while discussion on future directions takes place. Herecommended testing of a conceptual framework of sustainable forest management in ademonstration project by FAO in collaboration with ITTO, UNDP and UNDP.

FRANCE: Speaking on behalf of the EU, France said it is important that thediscussions on forests at the CSD be held at the highest level, where it will be decidedif a real global partnership for forests is initiated. The EU has undertaken concreteaction in the form of criteria and indicators. It is indispensable to start the process ofharmonization of criteria and indicators, based on the convergence of initiatives.Timber certification should be regarded as an important instrument for sustainableforest management. The EU feels an indispensable need to examine the feasibility of alegally-binding instrument on forests that would guarantee a holistic approach and thatthis process should occur within the aegis of the CSD. FAO should help to set up thispanel and contribute.

INDIA: Kamal Nath, India"s Minister of the Environment, said that forestsare more than mere carbon sinks but are interwoven into the lives of people. He notedIndia"s initiatives including the first ministerial conference from developing countries,that produced the Delhi Declaration, as well as hosting with FAO and the UK anational workshop that resulted in producing a national reporting framework for theCSD. He said he looked to FAO to play its rightful role and that if we have to changeits mandate, let us do it, since forests can not be just and adjunct to agriculture. Hestressed the vital importance of non-wood forest products and offered to host a centerfor forestry research.

MALAYSIA: Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, Minister of Primary Industries ofMalaysia, urged the delegates not to posture but adopt any necessary paradigm shiftsto ensure prioritized action to put the global agenda on track by forging a clearconsensus to facilitate decision-making at the upcoming CSD. We should focus on theneed to implement existing commitments. The links between trade and deforestationshould be discarded since 83% of tropical deforestation is for fuel and other non-industrial uses. Poverty eradication and better farming practices should be given highpriority in multi-sectoral solutions to deforestation. Global action should be predicatedon an equitable, holistic approach covering all types of forests. He outlined a set ofprinciples for the ongoing international processes, including balance betweenenvironmental protection and the need for development and sustainable use, thesovereign right of nations to utilize their resources to promote balanced sustainabledevelopment and the urgent need for a forum for internationally agreed criteria andindicators covering all types of forests. Regarding FAO he said that the organizationmay need a paradigm shift to keep its role as the lead UN agency for forestryincluding strengthening its Forestry Department, rectify the problem of forestry beingtreated as an adjunct to food and agriculture and prove its ability to provide newleadership and expertise. The ball is in FAO"s court.

PAKISTAN: The Minister commended FAO for keeping up momentum onthe process. He said that what is needed is sincere commitment, firm conviction andwillingness to share resources with those who have little but deserve more.

ALGERIA: In a time of major political and social changes, resourceallocations have been committed to meeting basic needs and this has hurt forestdevelopment. Financial assistance is needed in transition from state managed to marketeconomy in protecting forest lands.

MYANMAR: The multifunctional role of all types of forests should berecognized. Myanmar has only received support from UNDP of late and he said thatenvironmental concerns should transcend politics.

MACEDONIA: The Minister noted that Macedonia has over 900,000 hectares offorest that are in the process of being privatized. The three year drought has damagedforests. He said that in Macedonia there is a saying, "If you like to destroy thepopulation, destroy their forests first."

CANADA: Anne McLellan, Minister of Natural Resources reported on theoutcome of the Montreal Process and successes in Canada, including the formulationof a national forest strategy, the establishment of ten model forests and the nearlycompleted national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. Shenoted the various initiatives and said that the momentum must continue. Regarding theimportance of developing a global framework for sustainable development she said:that FAO has a role to play in assisting the development of criteria and indicators; theprocess of developing these should include more countries; there is a need for greaterinternational consensus on voluntary, non-legislated schemes for certification of forestproducts; national forestry action plans are valuable and the processes should be openand inclusive; there is a need for reliable and timely information on the state of foreststo help guide policy; and, there should be more coordination between UN agencies inshared leadership on forest issues. Canada supports the establishment of the CSD panelas an important body that can help bring together a number of separate regional andglobal initiatives in a cohesive and coordinated international approach to further theforest dialogue.

FINLAND: The Minister highlighted the outcomes of the HelsinkiMinisterial Conference the follow-up meetings. Finland supports the establishment ofthe CSD panel, saying that it should make use of an existing post-UNCED foundationand be open to further contributions from possible new initiatives from individualgovernments. Finland supports the establishment of a global convention on forests inorder to help mobilize and integrate both national and international resources for themanagement, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. FAOhas a role to play in the CSD panel and simultaneously the increased openness andtransparency in the work of FAO should be further encouraged. The internationalcommunity should take advantage of FAO"s expertise in global forest resourceassessment and national capacity building. The regional forestry commissions shouldbe strengthened.

PORTUGAL: The representative mentioned the role Portugal had played inthe Helsinki Process. Portugal fully supports the development of an internationalprocess for full convergence of the criteria and indicators on all types of forests.

BRAZIL: Dr. Gustavo Krause, Minister of the Environment, WaterResources and the Environment, noted the development of Brazil"s forest policy. Hesaid that the rate of Amazon deforestation had been reduced by 50%. He praised theForest Principles and called their implementation a considerable challenge. The debateon forests cannot overshadow the equally important analysis of other trans-sectoralissues such as the urban environment, the need for changes in consumption andproduction patterns and the transfer of new and additional resources and the access toenvironmentally sound technologies. There is no consensus yet on the opportunity forstarting now a negotiation toward a legally binding instrument on forests. Brazilsupports and encourages the establishment of an Intergovernmental Panel on Forests,subordinate to the CSD. Among the panels" tasks should be: reviewing the scientificand technical questions; accessing actions already taken; and harmonizing the variousefforts for the definition of criteria and indicators. FAO should: contribute, with UNEPand UNDP, to the work of the CSD; publish transparent and reliable data onenvironmental issues related to forests; establish agreements with national and regionalbodies; identify financial resources to foster research and produce technical studies onthe relationship between forests and other issues related to sustainable development.

UNITED KINGDOM: The representative noted the UK"s commitment toUNCED and the forest principles through its participation in the Helsinki MinisterialConference, the UK policies and actions for sustainable forest management and theirrole in the Indo-British Workshop. The UK supports setting up the CSD Panel, whichshould work in a pragmatic, non-confrontational and transparent way, supported byFAO and UNEP. He made suggestions for important issues to be included in thepanel"s mandate, including: review of progress of the Forest Principles; bringingtogether work on criteria and indicators; certification and labeling of wood products;identify further action including - but not prejudging - the possibility of a legallybinding instrument.

INDONESIA: The Minister of Forestry of Indonesia spoke of his country"sforest policy, including the development of large scale plantation forest as analternative to reduce pressure on natural forests as well improving timber harvestingand log conversion efficiencies. Developing countries should have better access tofinancial flows, environmentally sound technology and markets. He called for morescience-based initiatives that draw on the outcome of the CIFOR/Indonesia dialogue,held in Bali in December 1994. We need to provide advice to the CSD, emphasizingthe importance of benefit sharing and mutual responsibility.

AUSTRALIA: The Australian Minister for Resources hoped that the meetingwould build on consensus achieved to date in developing FAO"s contribution to theCSD and shaping and enhancing FAO"s efforts and activities on forests. He urgedFAO to widen the participation of relevant agencies and NGOs in its deliberations andconsultations at all levels including the ministerial meetings. Australia participated inthe Montreal Process and is encouraged by the potential for the CSD to consider thiswork and promote harmonization between the existing sets of criteria and indicators.Australia would consider hosting an international meeting to discuss certification andlabeling.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Dr. K. Rowley, Minister of Agriculture,Lands and Fishery Resources expressed disappointment at the response for financialsupport to TFAP/NFAP and other national initiatives. Criteria and indicators should betested at the national level. It is premature to tamper with the Forest Principles andTrinidad and Tobago does not support the revival of a legally binding instrument onforests at this time. They support the establishment of the CSD Panel on Forests andthat FAO would provide technical support. FAO should not be intimidated by NGOsthat have trouble accepting the inherent value of a structured process and widenedparticipation must be very clear and only arrived at after appropriate consultation.FAO should increase its field programmes, particularly in the implementation ofTFAP/NFAP.

NORWAY: The Norwegian Minister of Agriculture, Ms. Gunhild "yangen,said that future activities should be coordinated through a process ensuringparticipation of all countries concerned and all stakeholders including indigenouspeoples, women, the private sector and NGOs. Interlinkages should be taken intoaccount between sustainable forest management and poverty, population, economicpolicies, biological diversity and climate change. Norway supports the establishment ofan open-ended intergovernmental panel under the aegis of the CSD, to work in atransparent manner, drawing on the expertise of UN and other organizations, thesecretariats of relevant conventions, the private sector and other interest groups. FAOshould develop the global forest resource assessment into a continuous process andhighlight the importance of forests through full valuation of all goods and servicesderived from them.

SWEDEN: The representative of Sweden said that it is now time to translatethe Forest Principles into action. The causes of deforestation are found outside theforest sector, in population and trade. Sweden hopes that the panel created at CSD willbe action oriented and will identify causes of deforestation, ways to implementnational action plans and ways to strengthen action at the national level. The FAOForest Department should focus on information gathering, capacity building, policyformulation and support for national forest action plans.

US: The representative of the US Department of Agriculture said that theyare committed to sustainable forest management in the US by the year 2000. She saidthat the US uses ecosystem management on federal lands with full recognition of thesocial and economic functions of forests. The intergovernmental panel is a potentiallyeffective forum to explore the issues of timber certification and global criteria andindicators and would be less time consuming than starting a negotiating process. TheUS supports FAO taking a role as requested by the CSD.

CHINA: Developed countries have not been provided the resources andtransfer of technology and this has left them with considerable challenges. Developedcountries must be held responsible for forest exploitation and they are obliged to payand to provide technical assistance. FAO should play a pivotal role.

FIJI: The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Ratu Ovini Bokini,highlighted Fiji"s initiatives toward sustainable forest management and acknowledgedthe support and assistance that his country has received from FAO in the past. Heurged FAO to support to the South Pacific Forestry Development Programme.

BURKINA FASO: The Minister of Burkina Faso urged the internationalcommunity to launch a effort to stop the process of deforestation in the Sahel.

CUBA: The representative of Cuba said that the need for scientific andtechnical input cannot be underestimated and that FAO should continue to providetraining. Regarding criteria and indicators, the representative noted that they shouldtake into account the priorities and economic growth and ecological sustainability ofdeveloping countries. He added that it is necessary to stimulate growth in official aidto development of the forest sector.

MALAWI: K. K. Chambalo, Minister of Natural Resources of Malawi,spoke of Malawi"s achievements including the Malawi Environmental Action Plan, theEnvironmental Monitoring Programme and the national forestry policy review. Hesupports FAO"s initiative to open an office to strengthen its obligations in the Easter-Southern Africa Sub-Region.

PHILLIPINES: The Minister said that more attention needs to be given tothe cross-sectoral issues, such as population and consumption and production. All thefinancial recommendation made in Rio need to be implemented. The developedcountries benefited from the destruction of the developing country lands and now mustassist them. Timber certification at the local level should be encouraged but not at thenational or international level. The Philippines supports the role of FAO as the majortask manager for forest-related activities.

IRAN: The representative said that decisions that are taken here should beimplemented and not depend on decisions at other meetings.

UGANDA: The Minister of natural Resources, B.K. L. Mulondo of Ugandasaid that that timber from Uganda forests can be said to be from sustainably managedforest sources. The refugee problem results in deforestation and he requested UNHCRto consider the deforestation problem from refugees along side other needs.

CROATIA: Mr. Ivica Gasi, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry noted hiscountry"s readiness to implement sustainable management and forest protectionmeasures by signing the Strasbourg and Helsinki Resolutions.

THE NETHERLANDS: The representative urged the group to focus onareas of agreement. NFAPs are the most appropriate tools in the planning processleading towards forest development. He hoped that UNDP and FAO would maintaintheir commitment to, and responsibility for, NFAP by strengthening the existingstructures. The CSD panel should consist of government representatives with a littlehelp from our friends the NGOs. One option for the panel would be a legally bindinginstrument on Forests. Governments are being overtaken by private initiativesregarding certification systems.

TANZANIA: The Minister for Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmentsupported FAO to work closely and build partnerships with other internationalorganizations and agencies. He supported the idea that a legally binding instrument onforests be based on consensus-building in a step-by-step process.

VENEZUELA: Amb. Fernando Gerbasi, Representative of Venezuela toFAO, spoke on his country"s efforts in sustainable forest management. He said thatinternational cooperation is essential for Venezuela"s national strategies inimplementation of national forestry programmes. He said new additional financialresources and the provision of technologies on favorable terms is essential.

POLAND: Andrzej Szujecki, Undersecretary of State from the Ministry ofEnvironmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry of Poland, spoke on recentnational initiatives including the Law of Forests, the Programme of the Polish Policyfor Sustainable Forest Management Development, the establishment of a new ForestCenter for Environmental Education, seven Forest Promotion Complexes and expandedresearch.

CYPRUS: Amb. Fotis G. Poulides spoke on Cyprus" forests and his country"sprogramme of sustainable forest management. The Ministry of Agriculture, NaturalResources and Environment has started taking steps towards the preparation of anational plan within the framework of the Mediterranean Action Programme.

DENMARK: The representative welcomed and supported therecommendation of the CSD Intersessional Working Group on Sectoral Issues toestablish an open-ended, intergovernmental panel on forests. FAO should play animportant role in cooperation with other UN organizations, secretariats of internationalconventions dealing with forest-related issues and other relevant organizations,including NGOs.

SOUTH AFRICA: The Minister said that South Africa was looking forregional cooperation on forest plantation development and needed assistance in aridzone forestry. He offered South Africa"s expertise and research in eucalyptusplantations.

CZECH REPUBLIC: The representative agreed that certification could beused as a marketing tool but should not be used as a basis for trade discrimination.

ECUADOR: The representative said that Ecuador is working on theaccounting and monitoring of natural resources and that it is a good idea to continuedevelopment indicators at the national level. He requested modification of World Bankpolicies on reforestation of tropical forests.

UNEP: UNEP"s representative said that UNEP would assist FAO to supportand backstop the work of the proposed CSD panel. The UNEP Governing Councilwould be asked to work with FAO and others to work with others in cooperation withthe CSD body.

WWF: The representative of WWF said that we need to look at whatinternational agreements address the forest to see if they are being implemented. WWFendorses the establishment of the proposed CSD panel, but only if it is: more than a"talk-shop"; addresses the issues; and is participatory and open. Certification should bevoluntary and independent.

ITTO: Dr. B.C.Y. Freezailah, Executive Director of the ITTO spoke of thedirections ITTO is taking and said that the task of forestry development is so immensethat we cannot predetermine or restrict the number of actors who should be mobilizedfor action on forestry. We should not discourage the intensifying pace of negotiationsand information exchange since they have incremental value and facilitate broadparticipation in decision-making. He spoke of the newly agreed ITTA and that it hasbeen open for signature since 1 April 1994 and hoped that it would come into force on1 September 1995. 54 States have ratified the Agreement. ITTO has joined with FAOto initiate a process of creating a forum of experts to seek convergence of theprocesses to formulate global criteria for sustainable management of all types offorests. On the issue of resources, he asked the group to encourage the work of theEminent Person"s Group.

NEW ZEALAND: The Chair, John Falloon, Minister of Agriculture,Forestry and Racing of New Zealand, spoke briefly and tabled his speech. He spoke ofhis country"s forestry experience, the New Zealand Forest Code of Practice and thevoluntary agreement between commercial forest and forestry organizations andconservation groups. New Zealand has been active in the South Pacific Forum,bilateral assistance, the Montreal Process and ITTO. He supported the conclusion ofthe CSD Intersessional meeting and said that the Ministers could help to identify areaswhere FAO might be asked to play a role, recognizing that the Ministers should notpreempt the CSD.

CSD: Chair of the CSD, Dr. Klaus T”pfer was not able to attend the meetingdue to pressing commitments in Germany. He sent his statement, which was tabled. Init he mentioned the conclusions and recommendations of the Working Group relatingto Forests. He listed the possible elements of a mandate for the panel, including:creation of the basis for a global agreement on criteria and indicators for thesustainable management of all forests based on the convergence of the existinginitiatives; the preparation of the basis for an international framework for thecertification of timber from sustainably managed sources; assessment of ways tomobilize financial resources; identify priority areas for action; and the examination ofthe need for and the feasibility of a legally binding instrument on all types of forests,including the identification of possible elements of such a legally binding instrument.He said that "shared leadership" is needed and that this meeting should express thestrong commitment of FAO to be part of this.


The Chair introduced the final statement, which had been prepared by the workinggroup, saying that it had been circulated to the regional groups for final additions orcorrections. The Brazilian Chair of the working group presented the statement, notingthat it represented a long, open-ended negotiating process with a large group. The textrepresents a solid agreement that benefited from the participation of many ministers.Minister Falloon introduced two last minute changes to the text: a reinforcement ofFAO as the taskmanager in the UN system for forests and requested that Falloonpersonally take this statement to the CSD and High-Level Segment. The Statementwas adopted without discussion and the meeting was adjourned.


A theme underlying many of the discussions in the corridors and within thenegotiations at the COFO and ministerial meetings was that FAO needs to continue itsinternal reforms. FAO hosted the world"s forestry ministers with hopes of getting anendorsements that: FAO is the appropriate forum for policy and strategy decisions onglobal forestry issues; that within the UN system it is the competent agency on allmatters related to forestry; and that COFO is the intergovernmental body withresponsibility to deal with technical forestry issues at the world level. The message themeeting delivered to FAO was much more restricted.

Delegates often spoke of the need to focus on the organization"s strengths beforeextending its mission or adding additional responsibilities. Delegates and observersalso repeatedly criticized FAO"s record on participation and called for improvement ininvolvement of women, indigenous peoples, NGOs and the private sector. Somedeveloping countries praised FAO"s measures to provide national level assistance, butthey expressed limited support in negotiations on the ministerial declaration forextending FAO"s responsibilities. The emphatic suggestion by some developedcountries that FAO"s experience and resources were necessary to carry forest policyforward did not overcome delegates" or ministers" reservations. Despite attempts togive FAO lead authority in the next steps on forest policy, stronger language on theFAO role in some early drafts was quickly removed. The final ministerial statementsupports FAO"s technical expertise and activities, but it also explicitly recognizes theCSD"s role in political review of UNCED-related forest issues.


(Editor"s Note: This segment is adapted from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin reportof the Intersessional Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Sectoral Issues (Vol. 5No. 27), written by Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., Langston James Goree VI (Kimo) andWagaki Mwangi.)

The Commission on Sustainable Development"s Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Groupon Sectoral Issues opened on Monday, 27 February 1995. During the course of theweek, delegates discussed the six reports of the Secretary-General on the sectoralissues that will be considered by the CSD at its third session in April 1995. Theseinclude: integrated management of land resources, forests, combating desertification,sustainable mountain development, sustainable agriculture and rural development, andbiological diversity. During the first two days, delegates discussed the reports preparedby the Secretary-General. The latter three days were spent discussing the draft reportof the Working Group. By the conclusion of the week, delegates adopted their report,including a series of recommendations to present to the CSD. Paragraphs 11-22 of thisreport relate to forests.

Chapter 11 " Forests: The proposals in this section were the results ofnegotiations within a Contact Group chaired by Amb. Bo Kjell‚n (Sweden). Paragraph18 recognizes the need for the CSD to promote the efforts of Chapter 11 and theForest Principles, within the work of other UN agencies. If further options are to beconsidered, the preference is for an intergovernmental process. Paragraph 19recognizes that addressing forest issues will require an discussing cross-sectoral issuessuch as poverty, population growth, consumption and production patterns, and tradeissues, as well as unsustainable policies related to agriculture, energy and trade.Paragraph 20 welcomes the progress by countries, and calls for further concreteaction, some of which are outlined in the Secretary-General"s report. In thisconnection, it requests the CSD to consider an intergovernmental panel on forests,under its aegis, which is open, transparent and has a participatory approach, to assesswork already done and to propose further action, while drawing upon the expertise ofrelevant agencies and organizations. Paragraph 22 states that the CSD will determinethe mandate and operational modalities for the proposed panel, and suggested that theterms of reference be drawn from elements in the Forest Principles, Agenda 21, otherforest-related international initiatives, some of which are contained in Annex I. Thepanel will provide a progress report to the fourth session of the CSD and itsconclusions to the fifth session.


FAO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE: The FAO Committee onAgriculture (COAG) will meet from 27-31 March 1995 in Rome. The FAOrepresentatives will report on the CSD ad hoc open-ended intersessional meeting onsectoral issues and the Committee is also expected to discuss UNCED follow-up andthe issue of animal genetic resources. For more information, contact Richard Lydiker,Director of FAO"s Information Division, at +39-6-5225-3510.

THIRD SESSION OF THE CSD: The third session of the CSD will meetfrom 11-28 April 1995, at UN Headquarters in New York. Focus will be on thefollowing cross-sectoral components of Agenda 21: Chapters 3 (poverty); 5(demographics); 8 (integrating environment and development in decision-making);16(biotechnology); 22-32 (major groups); and 40 (information). Financial resources andmechanisms (Chapter 33) and the chapters on transfer of environmentally soundtechnology, cooperation and capacity building (34), science (35) and education (36)will also be discussed. The sectoral cluster for this session includes: Chapters 10 (landmanagement); 11 (forests); 12 (desertification and drought); 13 (mountains); 14(sustainable agriculture); 15 (biological diversity); and the Forest Principles.

According to CSD Chair Klaus T”pfer"s briefing on 10 March 1995, the PrimeMinister of Norway and the Presidents of the Philippines and the Czech Republic havebeen invited to speak at the opening session on 11 April. The new Bureau will also beelected that morning. In the afternoon, there will be the presentation of the results ofthe ad hoc working group on finance, followed by a panel discussion, which willhopefully include three finance ministers, an NGO representative, a CEO of aninternational company and an official of the Bretton Woods system. On 12 April, therewill be a presentation of the work of the ad hoc working group on sectoral issues,followed by another panel discussion. Members of the panel will include the Chairs ofthe FAO Committees on Forests and Agriculture, the commissioner of the EUresponsible for agriculture, the president of the Farmers Association and another NGOrepresentative. On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, the CSD will discuss trade andenvironment and changing consumption patterns.

On Monday, 17 April, discussion will focus on education, science, transfer oftechnology and capacity building. On 18-19 April, there will be exchanges of nationalexperiences. There will also be presentations on local experiences, including officialsfrom at least eight cities. There will then be four days of negotiations (20-25 April)before the High-Level Segment starts on Wednesday, 26 April. During the High-LevelSegment there will be two panel discussions: employment and sustainable developmenton 26 April and mass media and sustainable development on 27 April.

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