Report of main proceedings for 11 September 1996

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

Working Groups I and II convened morning and afternoon meetings on the third day ofthe third session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. Working Group I heardstatements on forest assessment, valuation and criteria and indicators. Working Group IIdiscussed trade and environment issues relating to forest goods and services.

WORKING GROUP I

Working Group I continued its debate on programme element III.1(a), forest assessments(E/CN.17/IPF/1996/20). The ECE stressed the need to cooperate at national, regional andinternational levels and to search for complementarity among partners of Forest ResourceAssessment 2000 (FRA 2000). MALAYSIA sought the establishment of commondefinitions and parameters and recommended the creation of a matrix depicting types offorest uses at all levels in order to consider a “user-pays” approach. CANADA, supportedby PORTUGAL, called for the inclusion of cultural and social data, the development ofmethodologies to collect cultural data, a clear prioritization of activities and a costassessment.

CHINA emphasized the need for transparency in financing for FRA 2000. COLOMBIAurged greater collaboration among relevant intergovernmental agencies, NGOs andgovernments in undertaking FRA 2000. SWITZERLAND suggested that resources couldbe used more efficiently if the time frame for FRA 2000 was altered from once every tenyears to an on-going effort. GERMANY expressed concern regarding the FAO’s abilityto financially and technically complete FRA 2000 at this time. A detailed analysis ofprogress and resources should be prepared for IPF-4. CAMEROON and PAPUA NEWGUINEA acknowledged the importance of international support for the completion ofnational forest assessments, inventories and technology transfer. FINLAND supported auser-pays approach to garnering funds for FRA 2000. NORWAY, supported byVENEZUELA, sought prioritization of data collection and recognized the importance ofcapacity building. UNEP expressed its willingness to collaborate. FAO acknowledged thefunding shortage for FRA 2000, stating the problem goes beyond the simple transfer ofresources from one program to another.

David Cassells (World Bank) introduced the document on programme element III.1(b),forest resource valuation (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/25). Many countries referred to thepurviews of the CBD and FCCC. BRAZIL made strong reservations on the document,objecting to, inter alia, its discussion of certification and joint implementation.Many delegations, including MEXICO, JAPAN, the PHILIPPINES, the US, SOUTHAFRICA, TURKEY and MALAYSIA, expressed concerns about the text, and theCHAIR reminded delegates that the valuation issue had already been fleshed out at IPF-2.MEXICO called for assessment of non-economic benefits of forests; these were alsohighlighted by JAPAN, the EU, COLOMBIA, CANADA, MALAYSIA and NGOs. ThePHILIPPINES noted that cost efficiency is not the only criterion for biodiversityprotection assessment. The EU, with the UK, noted that application of appropriatevaluation methodologies will justify forest management economically.

The US, supported by NORWAY, differentiated between research on technical aspects ofvaluation and policy recommendations, noting limitations to “across the board” solutions.With BRAZIL, he recommended that IPF encourage other organizations’ research onmethodologies. He highlighted improvement of valuation methodologies. KENYAemphasized assistance for development of sustainable forest policies, and, with KOREAand NEW ZEALAND, called for capacity building. An NGO representative noted thatnon-monetary values had been raised at IPF-2. The CHAIR recommended writtensubmissions. SOUTH AFRICA distinguished intensively used from protected naturalforests, and, with UGANDA, called for appropriate methodologies for valuing both.COLOMBIA noted a lack of specificity on countries already pursuing SFM. CHINAcalled for consideration of national legislation and capacities in implementation.NORWAY emphasized appropriate policy and regulation to control rent-seeking.

TURKEY noted the Forest Principles’ emphasis on promotion of public awareness and,with NEW ZEALAND, highlighted difficulties with recommending government effortsto control pricing. FINLAND urged further work on alternative mechanisms for analysisand incorporation of other values. CANADA noted the need for: participatorymechanisms; assessment of existing valuation efforts; and collaboration with the FCCCand CBD. POLAND called for biodiversity protection in productive forests andoperational documents. SENEGAL, with GABON, sought clearer identification ofelements for assessing values and practical guidelines for local communities. IUCNhighlighted its policy brief on green national accounting. The REPUBLIC OF KOREAcalled for a practical means to incorporate natural resource accounting into SFM. NEWZEALAND called for ways to internalize externalities related to non-timber values offorests in order to determine appropriate economic rents. UGANDA, supported byINDIA, emphasized participation of all interested parties.

AUSTRALIA supported: economic rent for wood products to cover management costs;natural resource accounting plans; and user fees as a means of supporting conservation.UNESCO sought pilot projects to test valuation methodologies and economic rent fornon-timber values. INDIA supported joint forest management but noted difficulties inimplementation. BRAZIL said tropical countries do not need to protect their biodiversityfrom pharmaceutical companies. The NETHERLANDS stressed the need to recognizesoil conservation and carbon sequestration, particularly in swamp forests. The WORLDBANK noted the need to differentiate between quantifying values and setting prices.

David Harcharik (FAO) introduced the Secretary-General’s report on programme elementIII.2, criteria and indicators (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/21). He encouraged wider countryparticipation in the development of C&I, a harmonization of terminology andidentification of a core set of common indicators at the international level. FINLANDsaid C&I should be incorporated into NFPs and contribute to policy formation. An NGOrepresentative expressed concern about the possible elimination of C&I because theyappear too difficult to develop and implement. An internationally harmonized set of C&Iwould be premature. The EU supported C&I at the national level and encouragedinformation exchange between countries. AUSTRALIA, supported by NORWAY, soughtharmonization of terms, definitions, methodologies and measurement standards used indeveloping national C&I.

WORKING GROUP II

J.E.K. Aggrey-Orleans (ITTO) presented the Secretary General’s report on programmeelement IV, trade and environment relating to forest goods and services(E/CN.17/IPF/1996/22). The report addresses, inter alia, market access and tradebarriers, certification and labelling, full cost internalization and market transparency. Itsproposals for action include the formation of a working group, composed of ITTO,UNCTAD, WTO and FAO, to explore procedures for country certification schemes, andefforts by ITTO and UNCTAD to promote harmonization and mutual recognition ofstandards among certification schemes.

The EU said that the proliferation of different schemes with different criteria coulddamage the credibility and effectiveness of certification and labelling (C&L). Theformation of the working group on country certification schemes is premature. The G-77/CHINA said the report should consider both market and non-market values of forest-related goods and services. INDONESIA supported the proposed working group butexpressed concerned about its composition. The UK stated that IPF should send a strongpositive message supporting trade in sustainable forest products and lesser used species.She noted that voluntary certification, if transparent, should be able to prevent technicalbarriers to trade. PORTUGAL stated that credibility for C&L will only come throughbroad international consensus, and procedures must be simple, practical and controllable.The AFRICAN TIMBER ORGANIZATION has developed its own initiatives but notedthe need for assistance to implement plans. The NETHERLANDS said governmentsshould create the appropriate conditions for C&L, stimulate consumer confidence andavoid a proliferation of schemes.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported environmental impact assessments and said IPFshould discuss measures to ensure transparency at length. SWITZERLAND said thereport must distinguish governmental measures from voluntary private sector measures.She said the proliferation of certification schemes helps to include a variety ofstakeholders. WWF recommended research on specific roles for international institutions.CIFOR said that forest-poor countries have not been adequately involved in discussionson this issue. The ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE called for more detailedstandards regarding biodiversity. IUCN said the report ignores real problems withinternational market competition.

AUSTRALIA supported the proposal that ITTO continue to : promote less usedspecies in the international market, provided it does so within context of SFM. GABONsaid the proliferation of certifiers is a cause for concern and there is a need for marketstudies. The US said certification is not a “magic bullet” that will bring about SFM, but isone useful tool that can complement other instruments. Proliferation of and competitionamong schemes will likely help rather than hamper certification. NORWAY said thediscussion of full cost internalization overemphasizes the increased costs of SFM. NEWZEALAND said the report does not do justice to negative environmental impacts of tradepolicies. He supported the proposal that ITTO and UNCTAD promote harmonization andmutual recognition.

IRAN said measures affecting trade in forest goods should not decrease the purchasingpower of developing countries. ZIMBABWE called for more serious consideration oftrade in non-timber forest products and services. UGANDA stated that the reportoveremphasizes international trade at the expense of domestic and regional trade. Heexpressed concern about the failure to address unilateral tariffs. CANADA stated thatcertification systems should be voluntary, non-legislated, non-regulated and include theinterests of all major forest stakeholders. Canada is encountering export barriers toEurope due to lack of transparency in eco-labelling programmes. JAPAN said theterminology of certification need to be unified and that it is too early to support theconcept of “country certification.” MALAYSIA called for harmonization and mutualrecognition with regard to certification. He said the report was unclear regarding markettransparency. COLOMBIA said the reduction of non-tariff and tariff barriers should takeplace in the context of instruments that seek to control multinationals.

GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL said substitution of forest products can serve toreduce pressures on the world’s forests. Technological innovations can lead to an increasein volume and value of forest products while reducing volumes of wood extracted. TheGLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT asserted that because certification schemes areprivate and voluntary, governments have no significant role to play in enforcingharmonization among them. Country certification is extremely controversial, and ifefforts move forward, it could trigger a consumer backlash and renew country bans andboycotts of forest products. The ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATION AGENCYcalled for the formation of an inter-agency task force to assess the extent and impact ofillegal logging and other practices detrimental to SFM, especially with respect to theactivities of transnational corporations.

An NGO representative said the report emphasizes the benefits of improved marketaccess as if trade liberalization is the primary goal. BRAZIL said the proliferation ofcertification schemes can lead to discriminatory practices. The CANADIAN PULP ANDPAPER ASSOCIATION said improved market access and dismantling tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that accompany trade liberalization are important factors in promotingSFM.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Acknowledging the broad scope of ideas on the issues, some observers have begun tospeculate on the future of IPF. Some delegates advocate extending the IPF processbeyond the fourth and final session in February. Others express concern that such a movemay amount to a “stall tactic.” Although no formal proposals have yet been tabled, somedelegations have hinted at their intention to do so. Observers wonder which issues wouldremain with the IPF’s purview if the process were extended.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

Working Group I: Working Group I will meet in Room XIX at 10:00 am todiscuss programme elements I and III.

Working Group II: Working Group II will meet in Room XX at 10:00 am todiscussion programme elements II and IV.

Further information

Participants

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