Report of main proceedings for 21 March 1996

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

Delegates completed discussion of the Co-chair’s drafts on several elements for the reportof the session on the penultimate day of the second session of the Intergovernmental Panelon Forests. They proposed changes and additions to drafts on programme elements I.4,fragile ecosystems; I.5, countries with low forest cover (LFC); II, financial cooperationand technology transfer; III.1(a), assessment of the multiple benefits of all types of forests;and III.1(b), valuation of the multiple benefits of forests.

FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS

JAPAN said the conclusions should not refer to desertification and drought in borealforests, nor should they address actions already covered by the CCD. The Critical Loadsapproach is important, but should only be adopted where appropriate. AUSTRALIAsuggested amending references to actions “in agreement with” existing internationalagreements to actions “consistent with.” The US noted that: the work of otherconventions should compliment the work of the IPF; research could take place throughparticipation in the Committee on Science and Technology of CCD; references tocombating desertification and drought should also mention mitigation; and degradation,rather than desertification, effects northern boreal forests. CANADA supported changing“stakeholders” to “interested parties” and referred to the Forest Principles. MEXICOcalled for consistency with the CCD and noted that an integrated approach should alsoinclude consumption and production.

BRAZIL said the list of underlying causes of desertification should include external debtand trade imbalance and called for more flexible language regarding sustainabledevelopment strategies. He suggested that: developed as well as developing countriesshould monitor experience; the conclusions should refer to Agenda 21 and the ForestPrinciples; and the “preventative approach” should be clarified. SWEDEN proposed a sentence stating that air-borne pollution causing acidification is an external factor thatcannot be influenced by the forest sector.

FAO said the reference regarding sustainable development strategies should be deleted asit conflicts with a similar reference made in programme element I.1. The adoption of toomany plans can lead to ambiguities. ECUADOR stated that the report should be amendedto reflect that desertification can occur in all soil-poor areas, including humid and semi-humid zones.

COUNTRIES WITH LOW FOREST COVER

WWF urged that IPF take a cautious approach to plantations, enhancing plantationbiodiversity, increasing NGO participation, and creating a data base. The G-77/CHINAcalled for: a definition for LFC that is applicable to all countries; coordination of actionswith those under the Small Island Developing States Program of Action; and theintegration of genetic resource conservation in national forest and land-use plans. The EUencouraged the development of land-use plans in all countries, especially LFCs.

NORWAY said that national forest and land-use plans should address conservation andsustainable development and that the reference to optimum degree of forest cover shouldbe clarified. AUSTRALIA stated that methodologies for forest inventories should bebetter defined and that many actions proposed for LFCs are relevant to all countries.UKRAINE said that restricted forest areas in LFCs should provide food security andacknowledged their link to public health.

NEW ZEALAND supported by AUSTRALIA, CHILE, CHINA, SOUTH AFRICA,UGANDA and the EU stated that plantations should: enhance biodiversity by takingpressure off natural forests; provide forest goods and services; and be managed usingindigenous species. GABON noted common but differentiated responsibilities, stating thatdeveloped countries should assist developing LFCs in securing their forests and forestgoods and services. IRAN highlighted mangrove and subtropical forests and theenvironmental and socioeconomic problems of LFCs.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

FUNDACION NATURA on behalf of an NGO working group highlighted: non-timberproducts and services; net investment calculations including a full evaluation of productsand services; a code of conduct for all donors, including transparency and participation;assessing the value of plantations including such drawbacks as encouraging replacement ofnatural forests; involving civil society in decisions on private sector investment andrepatriation of profits; replacing “forest yields” with sustainable management; andcontrolling illegal logging.

The EU, supported by the US, JAPAN, CANADA and NORWAY, noted that the CSD isfocusing on finance and technology transfer, especially within the intersessional meetings,and cautioned the working group not to duplicate this effort through IPF. The EU alsostated, with the support of UGANDA, ZIMBABWE and SWITZERLAND, that ODAwill continue to play an important role in sustainable development, emphasizing as well theincreasing role of domestic resources, including those generated from forest revenue andprivate sector investment, including trade, investment and technology. A better valuationof forest products and services is essential. He also stated that it is not clear that ODA forSFM is declining, as the proportion of funds set aside for SFM is often not specified inreporting.

JAPAN asked for clarification of “commitments” accepted at UNCED. The US supportedby the PHILIPPINES stated it was useful to differentiate among different innovativemechanisms, proposing “the panel recognized the potential of joint ventures and debt-for-nature swaps. The panel felt that further analysis is required regarding carbon offsets,tradable permits, and debt-for-policy-reform swaps.” She requested language on “thepotential to mobilize additional resources internally,” and replaced “policyrecommendations” on technology transfer with “options for action.” UKRAINE addedreferences supporting finance and technology transfer for countries with “transitionaleconomies.” MEXICO added “recipient countries should have more weight in the receiptand assignment of funds,” as well as “private sector funding should not replacecommitments to ODA.”

UGANDA highlighted domestic financial resources, stating that ODA is construed as a“birthright” in the Co-chair’s report, rather than a mutually-beneficial arrangement.Supported by ZIMBABWE, he added language that stated “domestic sources of financeneed to be identified and exploited, and a more conducive environment for profitableforestry business be created in recipient countries in order to complement ODA andenhance sustainability in financing SFM.” ZIMBABWE highlighted coordination as onemechanism to improve the efficiency of all financial resources, and stressed the need toremove conditionalities on ODA. Supported by several delegations, he noted that thereport should avoid using conclusive wording at this stage. FAO pointed out that it has nomandate to collect data on forestry investment, as requested in the text.

The G77/CHINA focused on the provision of new and additional financial resources andthe transfer of technology on concessional and preferential terms, in accordance with theForest Principles and Agenda 21. He stated that the focus of all programme elementsshould be on action, and should not prescribe national policies. He stated that fullincremental costs require increased international cooperation, taking into account thecommon but differentiated responsibility of nations. He added several references to ODA,emphasizing the need for countries to raise their levels of ODA to meet UNCEDcommitments. He suggested a new paragraph stating that “the panel expressed concernthat multilateral sources and financial institutions have traditionally imposedconditionalities on developing countries which have not been compatible with SFM.” Hestated that: private sector funding must be sought within a code of conduct, and not at theexpense of ODA; the available GEF resources are “totally inadequate” and only availableto support the objectives of legally-binding conventions; financial resources are aprerequisite for technology transfer; and IPF-3 should quantify resources available forSFM, including an assessment of whether developed countries have met their ODAcommitments.

GABON suggested drawing up C&I which would inform on trends in mobilization ofresources to implement sustainable development. CANADA suggested developingnational codes of conduct for the private sector, utilizing a multi-stakeholder approach andfocused on transferring public sector technology. He noted undue emphasis on ODAsupport for capacity building, emphasizing instead domestic resources and innovativefinancial measures.

BRAZIL stated that some, rather than all cases of deforestation, such as losses of forestcover and forest decline could lead to disinvestment. Alternative uses of forests could beconstrued as investments. Regarding technology transfer, he added language referring to:triangular cooperation; technologies in both the public and private domains; and prioritytechnologies including biotechnology, logging technologies and equipment, developmentof environmentally sound technologies and products for the control of plagues anddisease.

ASSESSMENT OF THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF ALL TYPES OF FORESTS

Delegates then discussed the Co-chair’s draft on programme element III.1(a).FUNDACION PERUANA PARA LA CONSERVACION DE LA NATURALEZA, foran NGO working group, said the document should move toward concrete actions. Shestressed a holistic assessment approach and said overemphasis on costs could impedecreative thinking. Remote sensing and geographic information system technology shouldbe made available inexpensively and on mutually agreed terms. The EU said assigningroles to organizations should be left to programme element V.1 on internationalinstitutions. The G-77/CHINA said this and other report sections should note all relevantagencies rather than assigning duties to FAO or other specific bodies. “Stakeholders”should be changed to “interested parties” in all report sections. The reference to C&Ishould be national, and comparability should be among nations. NGOs should contributeto, rather than play a leadership role in, an international coordinating effort.

The US said the reference to the FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment is appropriate.The paragraph on potential “benefits” should be changed to “conditions” and “decisions”related to forests changed to “considerations.” “National level” should be added to theparagraph on C&I and to the subparagraph on indicators.

MALAYSIA said the references to FAO could recommend that it work in partnershipwith other organizations. The PHILIPPINES said references to biodiversity conservationshould also note sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits. CANADA saidintegrating indicators in SFM should be cost-effective, scientifically sound andinternationally consistent, while recognizing countries’ differences in forest characteristics,economies, societies and cultures.

VALUATION OF THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF FORESTS

The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT said the Panel should encouragedevelopment and implementation of valuation methodologies. There is no evidence thatmethodologies are too complex, expensive or beyond the understanding of stakeholders.IPF should identify responsible parties, means and timetables for development ofmethodologies before IPF-4. Supported by the US, he said the report should not qualifyparticipation of indigenous people in research “where appropriate.” NGOs should be listedas participants. The G-77/CHINA noted that valuation exercises should not be at theexpense of more pressing needs, including data system development and mechanisms tomake SFM a politically feasible objective. The EU said multidisciplinarity should be avaluation criterion. A paragraph on forest valuation in national accounts should call forpromoting research on policy issues, including national accounts. The US said research onglobal dimensions of climate change and biodiversity should replace a reference to trade inforest goods and services. INDONESIA said that forest valuation methods should entailscientific evaluation and address non-quantifiable forest services.

VENUE FOR IPF-3

The Secretariat reported on possible dates and venues for IPF-3. She said that New Yorkwas a possibility at no added cost; Geneva was available but there may be financialimplications; Nairobi extended an invitation, but added costs would be significant due tothe need to provide translators; and Rome was available at no added cost.

COLOMBIA suggested that a contact group be formed to resolve the issue. The US notedthat the proposed dates conflict with the 9th session of the CCD; in order to avoid overlapit may be better to avoid New York and opt for Geneva or Rome.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

CO-CHAIR’S DRAFT CONCLUSIONS: Delegates must complete considerationof the remaining draft report sections: programme elements I.1, national forest and land-use plans, III.2, criteria and indicators for SFM, IV, trade and environment, and V.1,international organizations and multilateral institutions and instruments, includingappropriate legal mechanisms.

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