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3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests of the Commission on Sustainable Development

The third session of Intergovernmental Panel on Forests will open Monday, 9 Septemberin Geneva. The Panel will continue consideration of its five categories of work, which isdivided into 11 programme elements, and will convene two Working Groups. WorkingGroup I is expected to consider Category I (implementation of UNCED decisions relatedto forests at the national and international level including an examination of sectoral andcross-sectoral linkages) and Category III (scientific research, forest assessment anddevelopment of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management); and WorkingGroup II is expected to address Category II (international cooperation in financialassistance and technology transfer) and Category IV (trade and environment relating toforest products and services). Category V (international organizations and multilateralinstitutions and instruments including appropriate legal mechanisms) is expected to bediscussed in Plenary.


The Economic and Social Council, in its decision 1995/226, endorsed the recommendationof the third session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to establish anopen-ended ad hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) to pursue consensusand coordinated proposals for action to support the management, conservation andsustainable development of forests. In pursuing its mandate, the IPF is focusing on 11issues clustered into five interrelated categories and will submit final conclusions andpolicy recommendations to the CSD at its fifth session in 1997.

The first meeting of the IPF took place in New York from 11-15 September 1995. At thismeeting, delegates adopted the IPF programme of work and attempted to set the datesand venues of future meetings. Several issues that have typically divided North and Southagain proved difficult. Members of the G-77 were resistant to any proposal that couldforeseeably lead to a loss of national control over forests and forest products. There wasalso concern about the subject of criteria and indicators (C&I) and whether proposedintersessional workshops should constitute an official part of the Panel process. Developedcountries questioned the need to extend the length of Panel meetings and expressedserious concerns about the Panel’s work.

The IPF held its second session from 11-22 March 1996 in Geneva. Delegates conductedtheir first substantive discussions of six programme elements, and also completed initialconsideration of the remaining elements. During the final two days of the meeting,delegates considered the Co-Chairs’ summaries. They labeled these transitional in natureto signify that the summaries did not represent negotiated text. Delegates agreed to beginnegotiations at IPF-3 on items that had received substantive consideration at the secondsession, although another substantive discussion is scheduled on the programme elementon financial assistance and technology transfer. Delegates left Geneva satisfied that theyhad expressed national positions on a range of forest issues, but were somewhat frustratedthat all of their positions were not reflected in the report of IPF-2.


EXPERT CONSULTATION ON IMPLEMENTING THE FOREST PRINCIPLES—PROMOTION OF NATIONAL FOREST AND LAND-USE PROGRAMMES:The expert consultation “Implementing the Forest Principles — Promotion of NationalForest and Land Use Programmes” was held in Feldafing, Germany from 16-21 June1996. Sponsored by Germany, the consultation focused on components of programmeelement I.1, Promotion of National Forest and Land Use Plans and Programmes, andprogramme element II, International Cooperation and Financial Assistance andTechnology Transfer for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). Experts fromgovernments, the private sector, NGOs and international organizations discussed fourthemes: sectoral planning, policies and the institutional setting; investment programming;national capacity and capacity building; and international cooperation in support ofnational forest programmes (NFPs). The participants — 31 from developing countries and36 from developed countries —produced a report, which includes “options for action,” forfurther consideration during IPF-3. Among the options suggested for IPF considerationwere: preparing a code of conduct involving financial institutions, cooperation agenciesand national authorities; developing strategic planning for investments to facilitate fundingfor SFM; focusing capacity building on local institutions; establishing a forum forinternational consultation on forests; and enabling the conceptual development andimplementation of country-led NFPs. For photos and a full report of the Feldafing ExpertConsultation try .

WORKSHOP ON FINANCIAL MECHANISMS AND SOURCES OF FINANCEFOR SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY: The workshop, co-sponsored by UNDP and theGovernments of Denmark and South Africa, was held from 4-7 June 1996 in Pretoria,South Africa, and was attended by 70 experts from 45 countries. The workshop producedthe Pretoria Declaration, which will support and contribute to IPF’s work on internationalcooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer. In the Declaration, the expertsrecognized that forests, including wooded lands, simultaneously provide a wide range ofeconomic, social, environmental and cultural benefits at the local, national, regional andglobal levels, and that maintaining all types of the world’s forests in a healthy state is in thecollective interest of present and future generations. The experts called upon governmentsto take a number of urgent actions, such as: securing the market value of natural resourcescapital stock, land-use planning and security of land tenure through policy reforms;creating and promoting a favorable environment for investment in SFM, including macro-economic stability; providing incentives and promoting the use of appropriate technologiesto support SFM; and formulating and implementing national forest programmes thatinclude clear action plans and provisions for in-country coordinating mechanisms andmonitoring of progress.

In the report of the workshop, the participants noted that during the last few years manydonors have reduced ODA and that forestry ODA has declined in real terms. Meanwhile,private investment flows to developing countries have been rising and are now five timesgreater than ODA. They note that directing private investment toward sustainable forestmanagement constitutes a critical task. In developing countries the current flows of privateinvestment are highly concentrated on a few countries with export potential, while seriousfunding shortages are experienced in countries where forestry is oriented to domesticmarkets. For more information on the meeting contact: UNDP, One UN Plaza, NewYork, NY, 10017, tel: +1-212-906-5629; fax: +1-212-906-6973; e-mail:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CERTIFICATION AND LABELING OFPRODUCTS FROM SUSTAINABLY MANAGED FORESTS:This conference,sponsored by the government of Australia, was held from 26-30 May 1996 in Brisbane toadvance the international dialogue on the issue of certification and labeling as a means forachieving SFM. Based on workshop discussions, participants recommended that the IPFconsider several conclusions, including: certification and labeling are potentially usefultools among many others to promote SFM and their efficacy needs further evaluation;both performance standards and environmental management systems are complementaryand important components for the assessment of SFM; and there is insufficient informationto determine the extent of the market demand for certified products. The conclusions alsonote that a number of issues merit further consideration. These include: costs and benefits;market implications; the scientific basis for defining and measuring SFM; governance andcredibility of certification schemes; the roles of governments and international institutionsand organizations; consistency with international agreements; harmonization and mutualrecognition between schemes; trade impacts; and the role of environmental, economic andsocial objectives in achieving SFM. For information contact the Conference Secretariat,PO Box 505 Curtain ACT 2605, Australia, tel: +61 6 281 6524, fax: +61 6 2851336.

INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS WORKING GROUP MEETING ON TRADE,LABELING OF FOREST PRODUCTS AND CERTIFICATION OF SUSTAINABLEFOREST MANAGEMENT: An International Experts’ Working Group Meeting on“Trade, Labeling of Forest Products and Certification of Sustainable Forest Management”was held in Bonn, Germany from 12-16 August 1996 as a joint initiative of theGovernments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Indonesia. Seventyparticipants from 37 countries, and several international organizations and NGOsattended the meeting. The group proposed that the IPF consider options for action, andrecommended that arrangements be made for a continuous exchange of information andexperience on certification and labeling in appropriate fora to ensure transparency and tofacilitate its further development.

Policy dialogue should focus on the international, regional and national levels with respectto the following: international accreditation bodies; mutual recognition, harmonizationand/or co-ordination of certification systems; mechanisms capable of resolving conflictsand conflicts of interest to assure credibility of schemes; and the special needs of smallforest owners and community-based forest activities and their integration into forestcertification schemes. The group noted that, wherever possible, voluntary certificationschemes should take account of C & I frameworks at national, regional, and internationallevels and the need to maintain relevance and practicability. The IPF may wish to bring tothe attention of the WTO the potential positive relationship between SFM and voluntarycertification and labeling systems and highlight the principal concepts of the Agreement onTechnical Barriers to Trade. For more information contact: Hagen Frost, German FederalMinistry of Economics, tel: +49 228 615-3947, fax: +49 228 615-3993 or Dr. UntungIskandar, Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, tel: +21-5701114, 5730680, fax: +21-5738732,5700226.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL SEMINAR ON CRITERIA AND INDICATORS FORSUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT: This seminar, held in Helsinki, Finlandfrom 19 -22 August 1996, was hosted by the Government of Finland and organized incollaboration with the FAO, and supported the IPF’s work programme element III.2. Theopen-ended Seminar was attended by 155 experts from 55 countries. The conclusions notethat C&I are useful tools, designed ultimately to improve the quality of forest managementand play an integral role in the sustainable development of nations. The potential benefitsof using C&I are evident: internationally, by broadening the basis of information andunderstanding about the quantity and quality of the world’s forests; at the national level, asa guide in developing or revising policies and legislation, and in the formulation andrefinement of national forest programmes; and at the forest management unit level, inassessing the outcome of forest management and providing a basis for continuousimprovement. There are linkages between these levels that deserve to be more fullyexamined and understood.

The group's key elements for action note that the IPF may wish to: recognize C&I forsustainable forest management as an important forest policy tool in guiding and assessingprogress towards sustainable forest management; acknowledge that differences amongcountries in socio-economic development will have a direct impact on the developmentand implementation of C&I for sustainable forest management; recommend that C&I beintegrated into National Forest Programmes or other relevant policy frameworks, andshould thus directly contribute to the decision-making process by supporting and directingpolicies for the conservation and sustainable development of natural renewable resources,based on prevailing conditions and national priorities; recommend the establishment oflinkages and the harmonization of data requirements between international initiatives onC&I for SFM and different conventions and other processes and instruments related toforests; and recognize that countries presently collaborating in international processes arein different stages of development and implementation of national level C&I; and thatsome countries still must join these efforts. For information contact the Ministry ofAgriculture and Forestry; ISCI Secretariat, tel: +358 0 160 2405; fax: +358 0 160 2430;e-mail:; Internet: .


The Plenary will meet at 10:00 am in Room XIX. At 3:00 pm, Working Group I isscheduled to meet in Room XIX and Working Group II is scheduled to meet in RoomXX.

Further information


National governments
Negotiating blocs
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions