Report of main proceedings for 9 September 1996

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

The third session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests convened on Monday, 9September 1996 in Geneva. After addressing procedural matters in the opening plenary,delegates broke into two working groups. Working Group I began consideration ofprogramme element I.1 (national forest and land use plans) and Working Group II beganconsideration of programme element I.2 (international cooperation in financial assistanceand technology transfer).


Co-chairs Sir Martin Holdgate (UK) and Manuel Rodriguez (Colombia) opened thesession, emphasizing its importance because delegates must arrive at negotiatedconclusions and recommendations for transmission to the CSD. They applauded the levelof progress made during the intersessional period and encouraged consideration of reportsproduced at intersessional workshops. A workshop on traditional forest-relatedknowledge sponsored by Denmark and Colombia was announced for January of next year.

The Director of the Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development,Joke Waller-Hunter, highlighted progress made during the intersessional period andencouraged the Panel to take advantage of work accomplished. Common understandinghas emerged with regard to several programme elements including land-use planning,national forest plans and forest assessments. Further deliberation on C&I, valuation offorest goods and services and underlying causes of deforestation is needed. The IPFshould adopt realistic recommendations and refrain from taking a “wish list” approach.

The provisional agenda (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/13) was then introduced. The proposedagenda of work consists largely of two parallel working group sessions. Preliminaryconclusions are to be drafted during the first week and negotiated into final text during thesecond week. Programme element V.2 (legal mechanisms) will be discussed in plenary.SWITZERLAND suggested that plenary be extended to facilitate the adoption ofconclusions. The provisional agenda was adopted. The EU, supported by GABON andSENEGAL, expressed concern regarding the unavailability of certain documents in allworking languages. The Panel’s work could be impeded.

The floor was open for general comments. The EU highlighted the need to formulate clearand appropriate conclusions as well as concrete proposals for action. Cross-sectoral issuesmust be acknowledged and incorporated.

COLOMBIA and the ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES emphasized theimportance of intersessional activities, such as the upcoming meeting sponsored by theColombian and Danish governments on traditional forest-related knowledge. MEXICOsaid the Panel should deliver practical conclusions that spell out means to implement them.FINLAND reported that the Nordic forestry ministers met in July and expressed theirsupport for the IPF’s work and urged it to formulate recommendations for concreteaction. He underlined that the Panel’s work should be holistic and intersectoral, and apolicy forum must continue to exist after IPF-4 to maintain momentum.


Working Group I convened with discussion of programme element I.1 (national forest andland use plans). Jean Clement (FAO) introduced the Secretary General’s Report(E/CN.17/IPF/1996/14) on the issue. The report, based largely on the outcomes of theworkshops held in South Africa and Germany, is divided into three sections: definitions ofterms, future challenges and proposals for IPF action. He urged the adoption of auniversal concept for national forest programmes but noted the need to retain nationalsovereignty, particularly with regard to implementation. National forest programmesshould consider the needs of all stakeholders and employ international cooperation.

GERMANY presented the options for action produced by the German expert consultationon implementing the Forest Principles, including a code of conduct. On internationalcooperation, the experts proposed a new “Forum for International Cooperation onForests.” SWEDEN highlighted the upcoming Sweden/Uganda initiative on sustainableforestry and land use and the process of consensus building. The WORLD RAINFORESTMOVEMENT highlighted the problems of plantation workers and recommended thatmember governments ratify relevant international instruments.

The EU supported the basic principles of national forest programmes proposed in thereport and stressed the fundamental need for commitment in future policy. Sheemphasized the need for public and private investments and said that development musthave capacity-building as an objective. SENEGAL requested clarification on the newforum for international consultation and said he saw no need for a forum that isindependent of national institutions. There has been duplication of efforts that hasundermined the planning process in many countries. FINLAND emphasized several keyissues, including: full integration of forest planning with wider land use planning;decentralized participatory planning; coordination of various international planningframeworks; and, incorporation of C&I into NFPs.

SWITZERLAND endorsed further deliberations on the proposed consultative forum andsaid that national level mechanisms need to be developed to ensure comprehensivesupport. He supported the proposed efforts toward partnership. NEW ZEALAND saidNFPs are essential to obtain optimum use of land where competing claims exist and notedthe need for flexibility in planning to address countries’ different needs and resources.IUCN noted that primary forest users have the right to be involved in the development ofNFPs. He called for participatory planning and community involvement. The US soughtdifferent planning processes for different countries, given the variance of land ownershippatterns and mechanisms for public participation. All processes should be holistic,transparent and geared toward the long-term.

MALI, supported by the AFRICAN NETWORK FOR FORESTS, called for flexibility inplanning processes, stating that NFPs should reflect established policies. TheNETHERLANDS supported the universal development of NFPs and offered to assistcountries with implementation. He said that agencies involved in NFP development shouldbe involved in evaluation.

JAPAN acknowledged the lack of funding, capacity and international cooperation asobstacles to the development of NFPs. He called for support from local communities inthe implementation of NFPs and suggested that a pilot phase be conducted. NORWAYsaid NFPs must be sensitive to the needs of various types of forests and small forests. Hesought the use of universal terminology and supported the development of a consultativebody. PAPUA NEW GUINEA supported forest planning for all countries andinternational cooperation for capacity building.

The ORGANIZACION DE LOS PUEBLOS INDIGENAS DE LA AMAZONIACOLOMBIA noted that land use was closely linked to social and cultural issues.Implementation of NFPs should address indigenous concerns. AUSTRIA called forgreater recognition of mountain ecosystems in forest management plans. The REPUBLICOF KOREA said NFPs should be flexible and accommodate each country’s specificcircumstances. He suggested balancing top-down and bottom-up approaches to forestplanning. CANADA said NFPs are the best way to achieve SFM and should incorporatenational-level C&I, the views of all stakeholders and biodiversity concerns.

<$TSpInterLn=1373;EfWeight=4>UNESCO stressed the need to address the divergencebetween principles, plans and practices in forest management. Disincentives as well asincentives should be considered for private funding mechanisms.

CHINA supported the development of NFPs but urged that planning be flexible. Plansshould balance use and conservation objectives. The PHILIPPINES said NFPs need toaccount for each country’s unique natural conditions. Local participation is vital forimplementation. She sought clarification regarding the proposed consultative body.

MALAYSIA endorsed the report’s NFP concept and basic principles, but noted thatworking definitions warranted further elaboration. He expressed concern aboutinternational consultations on NFPs. A NGO representative said some fundamentalconstraints have not been included, such as the lack of political will, and recommended amore explicit elaboration of the ecosystem approach. He noted that “stakeholders” shouldbe used rather than “partners.”


Working Group II, chaired by Manuel Rodriguez (Colombia), opened with a summary ofthe Secretary General’s report on programme element I.2 (international cooperation infinancial assistance and technology transfer). DENMARK presented the results of itsworkshop, co-sponsored with South Africa and UNDP, on financial mechanisms andsources of finance for sustainable forestry held in Pretoria, South Africa from 4-7 June1996. Participants discussed the roles of ODA and national governments; the possibilitiesfor effective coordination; new and innovative mechanisms; and implications of increasedprivate capital investment. The mutual recognition of shared responsibilities for theworld’s forests was a breakthrough achieved at the workshop.

COLOMBIA underscored the importance of generating new and additional funding aspromised at UNCED, especially for SFM. He highlighted the need to create a code ofconduct for private investment and an information clearinghouse on marketing of forestproducts. The EU noted that private capital flows are increasing, but are still directedtowards unsustainable forestry practices. They should be channeled into investments thatmeet the wider public interest. He stressed that the EU does not intend to use increasedprivate sector flows as an excuse to reduce ODA for SFM. ZIMBABWE stated that thereport’s consideration of private investment is too optimistic. He also noted that the reportfails to recognize the important contributions of local communities to SFM. COSTARICA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, said that financial assistance and technologytransfer are cross-cutting issues and should therefore be discussed in a horizontal fashion.INDONESIA stated that the report overemphasizes market-based instruments withinrecipient countries. IUCN expressed concern that the potential for community investmenthad been overlooked. He proposed adding text to the report on increasing community-level benefits and responsibilities to promote local investment in SFM.

The UK noted the need to direct forest sector investment into SFM. He said privateinvestors are not always attracted to countries with low forest cover and developmentcooperation should play an important role in supporting them. The US said the potentialfor increasing the proportion of ODA devoted to forests would depend upon the prioritiesof recipient countries. She questioned the utility of the proposed working group and thedefinition of the proposed code of conduct. SWITZERLAND noted that while privatesector investment has increased, much of it has not been for SFM. She supported theproposed code of conduct and said the proposed working group should have a mandate toensure that ODA is deployed more effectively.

GERMANY highlighted the need for closer involvement of the private sector indevelopment of NFPs. CHINA said the report overemphasizes national and privateinvestment at the expense of international financing and technology transfers from Northto South. NORWAY recognized that ODA will continue to be important to support SFM,but to be most effective these funds should be combined with other sources. Ways andmeans to combine ODA and private investment should be explored. AUSTRALIAasserted that the costs of achieving SFM in developing countries exceeds existing ODA,so it is critical to implement enabling policies and legal frameworks.


Working Group I: Working Group I will meet at 10:00 am in Room XIX

Working Group II: Working Group II will meet at 10:00 am in Room XX.

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