Curtain raiser

32nd Session of the ITTC

The thirty-second session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-32) will meet from 13-18 May 2002 in Bali, Indonesia. The session will address, inter alia: the Mangrove Conservation Programme; Guidelines for the Management of Secondary Tropical Forests, Tropical Forest Restoration and Rehabilitation of Degraded Forest Lands; strengthening sustainable forest management (SFM) in Central African Countries (Congo Basin); Objective 2000; certification; a long-term strategic plan; a progress report on the implementation of the Work Programme for 2002; the Fellowship Programme; the Draft Annual Report for 2001; and the Special Account and Bali Partnership Fund.

The 30th sessions of the ITTC's Committees on Economic Information and Market Intelligence (CEM), Reforestation and Forest Management (CRF), and Forest Industry (CFI) will also meet to, inter alia: consider their reports of completed projects and pre-projects; conduct ex-post evaluations; review projects, pre-projects and activities in progress; consider project and pre-project proposals; and discuss policy work. The ITTC's Committee on Finance and Administration (CFA) will convene in its eleventh session and will review: contributions to the Administrative Budgets for 1986-2002; the current status of the Administrative Account for 2002; resources of the Special Account and the Bali Partnership Fund; the report for Financial Year 2001; and the report of the CFA's Working Group on New and Increased Funding to the Organization.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ITTA

The International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The purpose of the ITTA negotiations were to: provide an effective framework for cooperation and consultation between countries producing and consuming tropical timber; promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber and the improvement of structural conditions in the tropical timber market; promote and support research and development with a view to improving forest management and wood utilization; and encourage the development of national policies aimed at sustainable utilization and conservation of tropical forests and their genetic resources, and at maintaining the ecological balance in the regions concerned. The ITTA was adopted on 18 November 1983, in Geneva, and entered into force on 1 April 1985.

The ITTA established the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). The ITTO provides a framework for consultation among countries that produce and consume tropical timber to discuss and exchange information and develop policies on issues relating to the international trade and utilization of tropical timber and the sustainable management of its resource base. The ITTO is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and has 57 members – 31 producer country members and 25 consumer country members and the European Union.

The governing body of the ITTO is the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC), which includes all members. The Council is supported by four committees, which advise and assist the Council on issues for consideration and decision. Three of the committees deal with the ITTO's major areas of policy and project work: Economic Information and Market Intelligence; Reforestation and Forest Management; and Forest Industry. These committees are supported by an Expert Panel for the Technical Appraisal of Projects and Pre-projects, which reviews project proposals for technical merit and relevance to ITTO objectives. The fourth committee, on Finance and Administration, advises the Council on budgetary matters and other administrative issues concerning the management of the ITTO. The Council is also advised by an Informal Advisory Group, which began meeting in 1998.

The ITTA remained in force for an initial period of five years and was extended twice for two-year periods by decisions of the Council. The Agreement was renegotiated during a series of meetings in 1993-1994. On 26 January 1994, the Successor Agreement to the ITTA (ITTA, 1994) was adopted. It was opened for signature on 1 April 1994 and entered into force on 1 January 1997. The new agreement continues to focus on the world tropical timber economy, contains broader provisions for information sharing, including non-tropical timber trade data, and allows for consideration of non-tropical timber issues as they relate to tropical timber. The ITTA, 1994 also established a fund for sustainable management of tropical producing forests, the Bali Partnership Fund, which assists producing members to make the investments necessary to enhance their capacity to implement a strategy for achieving exports of tropical timber and timber products from sustainably managed sources by 2000 (the Year 2000 Objective).

THIRTY-FIRST SESSION OF THE ITTC: The 31st session of the ITTC met in Yokohama, Japan, from 29 October–3 November 2001. At the session, member States pledged US$8.96 million to fund new work designed to promote tropical forest conservation and sustainable development, and the Council approved and financed a number of projects. The Council also took decisions on: strengthening forest law enforcement in member countries requesting assistance; convening a workshop to further develop the draft workplan for mangrove forest ecosystems; establishing a database of statistics on the trade of bamboo and rattan; and assisting countries to develop credible systems for auditing the implementation of ITTO's criteria and indicators for SFM.

INTERSESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON MANGROVES: The ITTO convened an International Workshop on Mangroves in Cartagena de las Indias, Colombia, from 19-22 February 2002. Participants recommended that a Global Plan of Action for Mangroves be implemented, and drafted a list of elements for such a plan, including aspects related to: assessment and monitoring of mangrove resources; conservation and management; socioeconomic benefits for local communities; research; information and databases; institutions; and policies and legislation. Participants also recommended that an International Year of Mangroves be established through the UN system.

SECOND SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS FORUM ON FORESTS: The second session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) took place from 4-15 March 2002, in New York. Delegates adopted a Ministerial Declaration and Message to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and eight decisions, on: combating deforestation and forest degradation; forest conservation and protection of unique types of forests and fragile ecosystems; rehabilitation and conservation strategies for countries with low forest cover; rehabilitation and restoration of degraded lands and the promotion of natural and planted forests; concepts, terminology and definitions; specific criteria for the review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests; proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for 2002-2005; and other matters. UNFF-2 was also mandated to establish terms of reference for three ad hoc expert groups on: approaches and mechanisms for monitoring, assessment and reporting; finance and transfer of environmentally sound technologies; and consideration with a view to recommending the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests. However, delegates were not able to reach agreement and instead took a procedural decision to forward to UNFF-3 an entirely bracketed paper containing the draft terms of reference.

INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON COMPARABILITY AND EQUIVALENCE OF FOREST CERTIFICATION SCHEMES: This workshop was convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 3-4 April 2002. The workshop made several recommendations for ITTO action, including, inter alia, to: provide support for capacity building to producing member countries in forest certification; monitor progress in comparability and equivalence of certification systems and explore opportunities for promoting convergence in forest certification standards in member countries, including regional initiatives; facilitate discussion involving stakeholders and provide support to exploring the feasibility of a phased approach to certification as a means to improve equitable access to certification by producers in producing and consuming member countries; recognize the potential contribution of certification of forest management and chain of custody to the control of illegal logging and trade in tropical timber; support research to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of alternative sets of indicators for satisfying specific certification criteria and to clarify the impact of certification on SFM; keep its members informed on initiatives related to international frameworks for mutual recognition between certification systems; and provide support to regional certification fora and related organizations in tropical regions.

SIXTH CONFERENCE OF PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: The sixth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity met from 7-19 April 2002 in The Hague. Delegates adopted a Revised Work Programme on Forest Biological Diversity, which includes goals, objectives and activities grouped under three programme elements: conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing; institutional and socioeconomic enabling environment; and knowledge, assessment and monitoring.

Under "Conservation, Sustainable Use and Benefit-sharing," the work programme calls for the development of practical methods, guidelines, indicators and strategies to apply the ecosystem approach. Regarding reducing threats and mitigating threatening processes, the objectives focus on: alien invasive species; pollution, climate change, fragmentation and conversion; and forest fires and fire suppression. Regarding protection, recovery and restoration of forest biodiversity, the objectives address: degraded secondary forests and forests on former forestlands, including plantations; forest management practices furthering conservation of endemic and threatened species; and protected forest area networks. To promote sustainable use of forest biodiversity, the objectives address: losses caused by unsustainable harvesting; indigenous and local communities regarding community-management systems; and information systems and strategies. On access and benefit-sharing, the objective is to promote fair and equitable benefit-sharing.

To enhance the "Institutional and Socioeconomic Enabling Environment," the objectives focus on: understanding causes of forest biodiversity loss; integrating conservation and sustainable use into forest and other sectoral policies and programmes; developing good governance; and promoting forest law enforcement and addressing related trade. The goal on socioeconomic impacts seeks to mitigate failures and distortions leading to biodiversity loss. Regarding increasing public education, participation and awareness, the objective is to increase support for and understanding of the value of forest biodiversity and its goods and services.

Under "Knowledge, Assessment and Monitoring," the objectives on forest classification and assessment of status and trends are to review and adopt a forest classification system, and to develop forest ecosystem surveys. On improving knowledge on and methods for assessment of status and trends, the objective is to advance the development and implementation of criteria and indicators. On improving the understanding of the role of forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, the objective is to conduct research programmes. Regarding improving data management for monitoring and assessment, the objective is to enhance and improve technical capacity.

TENTH MEETING OF THE INFORMAL ADVISORY GROUP

The Informal Advisory Group (IAG) of the ITTC convened its tenth meeting on Sunday, 12 May, in Bali. At the meeting, the IAG: noted the outcomes of the ITTO International Workshop on the Comparability and Equivalence of Forest Certification Schemes; underscored the strategic importance of promoting cooperation and partnerships between the ITTO and environmental NGOs and recommended that the Council take appropriate action to facilitate the establishment of an Advisory Group for environmental NGOs; and noted the work of the Expert Panel on the Guidelines for Reforestation, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Forests and further discussed the Council's provisional adoption of the Guidelines and additional follow-up work. On the frequency and duration of Council and Committee sessions, the IAG, inter alia, noted the case for a single annual session, and considered the desirability and appropriateness of convening an inter-sessional working group to assist the Council in its deliberations on this issue at its next session.

Regarding a new successor agreement to the ITTA, 1994, the IAG felt it could be useful to commence groundwork for negotiating a new agreement, and recommended that a joint caucus meeting discuss this issue. The IAG also highlighted the ITTO's contribution in the context of the UNFF and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), and suggested that the Council review this matter at its next session. The IAG further recommended that the Council consider a proposal to convene an ITTO satellite meeting in conjunction with the WSSD, as well as the possibility of conveying its own political message to the WSSD. Regarding an initiative on forest law enforcement and governance (FLEG) being undertaken in Brazzaville, the IAG recommended that the Council consider co-sponsoring the initiative. The IAG also discussed the feasibility of developing Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Mangrove Forests.

The IAG considered the possible list of decisions to be considered and adopted by ITTC-32, on: projects, pre-projects and activities; certification; organization of work of the Council and Committees; enhancing cooperation with environmental NGOs and civil society; Guidelines on Restoration, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Forests; evaluation/ review of the utilization and impact of existing ITTO Guidelines; preparatory work for a new agreement and the possibility of a long-term strategic plan; the ITTO's contribution to the WSSD; FLEG in Africa; follow-up on the Congo Mission and Yaounde Summit - the Congo Basin Initiative; and the Mangrove Workplan.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

ITTC SESSIONS: The opening session of the Council will commence at 10:00 am in the Nusantara Room. The Council will continue to meet from 2:00-4:00 pm.

JOINT COMMITTEE SESSION: A Joint Committee Session will be held from 4:00-4:30 pm in the Nusantara Room.

COMMITTEE SESSIONS: The Committee on Forest Industry (CFI) will meet in the Nusantara Room, and the Committee on Reforestation and Forest Management (CRF) will meet in Jakarta Room B, both from 4:30-6:30 pm.

PRODUCER AND CONSUMER GROUP MEETINGS: The Producer Group will meet in the Nusantara Room, and the Consumer Group in Jakarta Room B, from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Further information

Participants

Negotiating blocs
European Union
Non-state coalitions
NGOs

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