Report of main proceedings for 20 March 1996

2nd Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests of the Commission on Sustainable Development

Delegates began consideration of the Co-chair’s drafts on elements for the report of thesession on the eighth day of the second session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.They debated the level of negotiations and began discussions of the draft on programmeelement I.2, underlying causes. Morning sessions were canceled to permit regionalconsultations.


Co-Chair KRISHNAN suggested that the discussion was not a negotiation, which shouldbe reserved for IPF-4, but that delegates should recommend adjustments to the Co-chair’sdraft texts.

The EU said the conclusions should reflect: assessment and evaluation of forest goods andservices; development and implementation of national plans and programmes consideringthe full range of forest benefits; domestic and international financial resources; and donorcoordination. The G-77/CHINA said each set of conclusions should refer to means ofimplementation, provision of new and additional resources, and technology transfer. Focusshould be on international action and coordination, not prescription of conditions fornational policies. Recommendations to countries should be in accordance with nationalplans and policies. MALAYSIA said postponing negotiation until the final IPF sessionwould overload that meeting. IPF-3 will deal with more contentious substantive issues.The PHILIPPINES said the process delineates parameters for future discussion. The basisof negotiations needs to be clarified.

The Co-chair said a line-by-line debate would produce agreed text but would consumetime. He said a discussion could arrive at a text agreeable to all. A progress report wouldbe sent to CSD. CANADA said the drafts should be action-oriented with specificrecommendations. IPF-3 should build a critical mass of proposals on actions, considerintersessional outcomes, and then negotiate recommendations.

The US said the Co-chairs’ texts are parameters of the debate based on discussions. Shesaid negotiation of text could not precede negotiation of concepts. AUSTRALIA said it istoo early to negotiate line-by-line. BRAZIL said clarification and enhancement, notnegotiation, were necessary to include positions not reflected. Recommendations shouldbe more precise and should be balanced because this will be text subjected to finalnegotiations. JAPAN said these are not negotiated texts. IRAN said the views are to someextent negotiated text. MALAYSIA said it remains to be seen whether delegates willavoid negotiating. The Co-Chair said the debate would seek an agreed output that wouldbe adopted as the text of the Panel, leaving scope for negotiations later.


The Co-chair’s draft on programme element I.2 agrees that causes of deforestation andforest degradation are complex and, citing a number of factors, that it: notes widergeographic and time scales; discusses requirements, contexts and benefits of NFAPs andNFPs; mentions plantations and non-timber forest products and services; refers to adiagnostic framework and joint management with involvement of stakeholders and localpeople; and calls for coordination with other conventions. It also recommends actions andrequests that the Secretariat take account of other programme elements, governmentinitiatives and the IPF-1 report.

The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT stressed the need to acknowledgeinternational and multilateral pressures leading to deforestation. IPF should developconcrete proposals and identify responsible parties. WWF noted the inherent danger in thestatements that deforestation may not necessarily be harmful and that plantations may takepressures off natural forests; social repercussions to indigenous communities can result.The G-77/CHINA asked that interventions only clarify what was previously said. Causesof deforestation in all countries must be viewed from a historical perspective. He askedthat the language reflect that the IPF “noted” rather than “agreed” on causes ofdeforestation.

The EU stated that the Panel’s list of suggestions could be more clearly reflected in theCo-chair’s report. Grazing pressures and forest fires should be recognized as causes ofdeforestation. CANADA noted the need to clearly distinguish between direct andunderlying causes of deforestation. Poverty would be better linked to issues outside offorests. Deforestation may not be harmful in the context of land-use plans. AUSTRALIAstated that agricultural pressures and sustainable agriculture techniques should beaddressed and that mechanisms for information sharing need to be better defined. BRAZILnoted that the list of causes of deforestation and forest degradation did not include allthose raised by IPF. The international causes of deforestation should be recognized,particularly those related to trade, market forces and the under-valuation of non-woodproducts and forest services.

SWITZERLAND suggested that “ecosystem level” replace “eco-regional” in a statementon approaches to land use because “regional” carries several connotations in UN parlance.The Secretariat’s preparation for IPF-3 should take into account relevant activitiesundertaken by the FCCC, CBD and INCD. MEXICO called for clarification of referencesto the “diagnostic framework,” the collection of information on forest cover and data onforest modification. She said C&I has not been raised in reference to managinginformation and suggested deleting the phrase. NORWAY said that while the documentstates that many causes of deforestation are outside the forest sector, it does not mentionthe impact of the forest sector directly and should refer to timber extraction. He said thatthe reference to rational justifications for changes in forest structure is dangerous. Heemphasized: the identification of gaps in knowledge with regard to qualitative aspects; theinvolvement of local people in decision-making; and stated that forest modification shouldbe planned.

The US said that including the statement that major land areas under forest cover aresometimes outside the direct control of national governments gave the impression that thiswas an underlying cause of deforestation. The reference to the effect of consumption andproduction patterns is unclear and should better reflect the full range of views. She notedthat a reference to joint management is not appropriate for all countries. She suggested anew paragraph identifying examples of policies and interventions that have contributed todeforestation as well as those that have supported SFM. GABON stated that theparagraph on relevant international agreements should begin by mentioning the ForestPrinciples. He said the conclusions were timid on the indirect causes of deforestation andshould reflect ideas on foreign debt and inadequate resources for implementing SFM. Henoted that the text is confined to capacity building and should be expanded to othermethods of implementation. He said the conclusions should also note the need for new andadditional resources for developing countries.

INDIA emphasized poverty and consumption in the paragraph on the causes ofdeforestation, and poverty alleviation in the paragraph calling for an assessment of foreststrategies in non-forest sectors of the economy. He added a reference to “emergingparticipatory management systems” to the paragraph on improved internationalcollaboration, and emphasized the cross-sectoral nature of SFM. MALAYSIA noted that,in order to be credible, IPF must propose specific actions in three areas: identifyingunderlying causes; addressing these causes; and identifying difficulties in implementingSFM. He highlighted poverty alleviation and energy consumption in reference tounderlying causes.

CANADA noted the importance of utilizing language which recognizes sub-nationalgoverning structures such as provincial governments within a federal system. The Co-chairstated that a revised draft text will be circulated Friday incorporating the day’s comments.


The draft Co-chair’s text recognizes, regarding desertification: relevance to both northernboreal forests and arid and semi-arid areas; action to address underlying causes;prevention over restoration; and bottom-up approaches. Regarding air-borne pollution, thetext notes: the effect on many parts of the world; action is required outside the forest; theCritical Loads approach; and increased monitoring.

The EU stated that, under the section on desertification: the reference to Northern borealforest should be deleted; “secure rights and access to land action” are important; initiativesshould come from affected countries, and conclusions should focus on fragile ecosystems,LFC, and underlying causes. Under the section on air-borne pollution, he stated thepriority of this issue, that it cannot be addressed by forestry, and stressed language oninternational action. The UN ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEEUK on behalf of the NGO working group suggested: addressing specific problems ofboreal ecosystems; considering root causes of poverty; stressing equal partnershipsincluding those with private businesses; emphasizing regeneration linked to communityaccess control; identifying actions for local capacity building and mechanisms forimplementation. He highlighted restoration and reforestation.

The G77/CHINA added references to the desertification section on: air-borne pollution,particularly in Central and Eastern Europe; the merits of bottom-up approaches “alongwith top-down approaches;” “every interested party” rather than “stakeholder;” the IPFmandate, Agenda 21 and the Forest Principles; “development of those areas with fragileecosystems” rather than “development of countries with fragile ecosystems”; and carryingout programmes under the Desertification Convention “within the broader mandate ofIPF.” He deleted the entire reference to management of forests and “traditional productionsystems.” Under the section on air-borne pollution, he suggested: the Critical Loadsapproach for parties to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution,while others should “consider” this approach; transferring “the best available, as well asfuture, technology;” evaluating how countries address forest decline; and studyingbiomass, management, regeneration and silviculture of native species and historical levelsof sulfur dioxide emissions.


Delegates and observers expressed mild discontent over the day’s progress and thepossible impact of IPF-2’s conclusions on the entire IPF work programme. Somesuggested that the Bureau and Co-chairs may have provided better guidance in terms ofdefining procedures and expected outcomes. Others noted the reserved tone of the reportsand their apparent failure to call for action. It was suggested that discretionary editing ofthe reports may not have captured the full range of issues presented and that the timeallotted for negotiations must be increased if a meaningful agreement is to be attained.


CO-CHAIR’S DRAFT REPORT SECTIONS: Delegates are expected tocontinue discussion of draft conclusions on the underlying causes of deforestation andthen move to I.4, fragile ecosystems, I.5, countries with low forest cover and II, financialassistance and technology transfer.

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