Report of main proceedings for 16 September 1996

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

At the sixth day of the third session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, WorkingGroups I and II met in morning sessions for the first round of discussion on draft texts fornegotiation. Working Group I considered programme element I.1 (national forest andland use plans) and Working Group II considered programme element II (internationalcooperation on financial assistance and technology transfer). A Joint Working Groupsession convened in the afternoon to discuss the organization of work for the remainderof the IPF-3.


Working Group I took up draft text on programme element I.1, national forest and landplans. The G-77/CHINA, supported by MALI, COLOMBIA and the REPUBLIC OFKOREA, recommended that: NFPs be developed in the context of each country’ssocioeconomic, cultural and political situation; decentralized planning be undertaken onlywhen applicable; inputs from local communities be recognized and respected; and theeffects of trade and market forces be considered in NFP implementation. He proposedadding a new paragraph urging donor countries to provide new and additional resourcesfor the development and implementation of NFPs. With INDIA and IUCN, he alsoproposed replacing a reference to “sustainable forest management” (SFM) with“conservation, management and sustainable development of all types of forests.” The EU,supported by AUSTRIA, said: a broad multi-sectoral approach should be undertaken indevising NFPs; governments and relevant agencies should develop consensus on thecontent of NFPs; and environmental and conservation issues should be fully integratedwith wider economic and land-use plans. He preferred a continuing forum forinternational consultations over the establishment of a consultative body and encouragedgovernments to form partnership arrangements.

The US emphasized that NFPs are only one approach to achieving SFM. All planningshould address the unique circumstances of each country, including its history, landtenure systems and land-use laws. He urged that references to NFPs be replaced withreferences to SFM and that countries with NFPs give priority to conservation and SFM inorder to better attract funding from national and international sources. NEW ZEALANDsuggested that all conclusions and proposals for action be consolidated and sought toreplace references in the text to “the conservation and sustainable development of forests”with “sustainable forest management.”

MALI noted that NFPs are often inspired by national forest policies. JAPAN noted that itwas agreed recently that “SFM” covers a broad range of conservation, use anddevelopment of forests. He called for further development of the concept of forestpartnership agreements (FPA) as a mechanism for international partnerships. He stressedthe importance of developing and testing pilot programs in order to promote confidencein NFPs among different communities. INDIA, supported by IUCN, emphasized:incorporation of a broad spectrum of forest-dependent communities into NFPs andproposals for action; recognition of the existing rights of these communities; and FPAs asvehicles for implementing SFM.

UKRAINE asked for language emphasizing capacity building for LDCs and economiesin transition. CANADA proposed language stressing linkages to the CBD’s work onbiodiversity and forests, particularly CBD COP technical advice on integratingbiodiversity conservation into forest and land use plans. FINLAND differentiatedbetween formal and indicative land use plans and called for monitoring of NFPs.

The CHAIR clarified that programme element V.1, on international organization andmultilateral institutions, judges existing international institutions, while V.2, on legalmechanisms, encompasses any new international structures. SWITZERLAND called foran intersectoral approach to the development of NFPs and stressed local traditional forest-based knowledge in a section on technology transfer.

COLOMBIA emphasized the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. TheFAO asked for clarification of terms, noting that the UNCED terminology recalled hereby the G-77/China was adopted as a compromise between emphasizing the objective ofdevelopment of societies and emphasizing the means of obtaining such development.When forest objectives per se are referred to, the correct term is “management.”

AUSTRIA emphasized that the goals of NFPs include conservation of biodiversity, soil,water and fragile forest ecosystems. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA stressed participatoryapproaches at local levels and ensured benefit sharing. The CHAIR asked for all changesin writing and announced the compilation of a composite text, with all amendmentshighlighted and origin indicated in abbreviated form, for the next discussion of thisprogramme element. If a negotiated text cannot be agreed, the output of discussion on thiselement may be elaborated in a Chair’s summary. The EU proposed adding an annex withdefinitions of terms used. The CHAIR agreed, providing that authoritative definitions ofwords agreed to within the UN context could be found and accepted by all.


The Chair introduced a draft text for negotiation on programme element II, internationalcooperation on financial assistance and technology transfer. The report specifiesproposals for action on public finance, private sector investment, technology transfer,coordination and information systems. The PHILIPPINES, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, said the report overemphasizes private sector financing and domesticfunding. She suggested adjusting the report to better reflect international cooperationaspects and said the proposals for action should be more “action-oriented.” The EU calledfor a glossary of definitions and for complete references from the Forest Principles. Hesaid international cooperation must complement domestic finance efforts. The USproposed condensing the document to three sections and using the term sustainable forestmanagement (SFM) throughout. She said conclusions on codes of conduct are premature.JAPAN characterized the list of actions as duplicative and overlapping.

MEXICO called for references acknowledging the importance of national forestprogrammes (NFPs). With COLOMBIA, she suggested more extensive references to thework of multilateral organizations. SWITZERLAND underscored the need for prioritysetting in the report and for a balanced treatment of multilateral cooperation and financialassistance. The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT proposed amendments to thereport’s private sector investment provisions that, inter alia, define a role for codesof conduct and invite developing countries to encourage only those investments thatpromote SFM. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION proposed using the FAO as a depositoryfor information on SFM technologies. CANADA called for a holistic examination of theissue and said he will propose references to the CBD and other conventions to ensure awider context.

CAMEROON said the report should emphasize that NFPs are the only framework underwhich forest planning should take place. The section on public finance should considerthe special conditions of countries undergoing structural adjustment. AUSTRALIA,supported by UGANDA, noted that the document does not embody the concepts ofshared responsibility and a shared vision of SFM emphasized during last week’sdiscussions.

UKRAINE asserted that technology transfer does not guarantee the solution of problemsin the forestry sector. She called for inclusion of educational technologies and training inforest-related sectors as priorities in technology transfer and capacity building. BRAZILnoted that the proposals for action on technology transfer do not contain all of therecommendations highlighted during Plenary. UGANDA said that actions on publicfinance are required by both donor and recipient countries. Proposals for action shouldnot be limited to technology transfer but should also encourage technology developmentand exchange.


Delegates convened in a Joint Working Group session during the afternoon to discuss theoperational aspects of their work. Co-Chair Holdgate opened the meeting by remindingdelegates that the objective of IPF-3 is to produce a document that will be used inpreparing the Panel’s final report to the CSD. He circulated a note from the co-Chairsregarding the further work of the Panel for the remainder of IPF-3. The first round ofdiscussions, wherein delegations provide their views and amendments on the given text,will continue through Wednesday morning in both Working Groups. The Secretariat willincorporate all amendments into a second draft as soon as possible. Delegates willnegotiate the text paragraph by paragraph during the second round of discussionsWednesday afternoon and Thursday in the two Working Groups. The aim will be to reachpreliminary agreement on less contentious issues and to identify the more controversialelements that will have to be bracketed. The Chair emphasized, however, that the entiredocument will go to IPF-4 in brackets, so all issues will remain open for discussion atIPF-4.

The Chair briefly summarized the work plan for IPF-4. The Panel will: continue andfinalize negotiations on the text of its report to the CSD, using the document resultingfrom IPF-3 as its basis; integrate into the text additional proposals and inputs, includingresults from intersessional activities, as well as proposals for action on programmeelements V.1 (international organizations and multilateral institutions) and V.2 (legalmechanisms); and, if necessary, rationalize the structure of the final report.

The EU requested clarification on whether the current format and existing programmeelements would be forwarded to IPF-4. The Chair responded that these programmeelements and long lists of options for action would not likely be condensed by the end ofthis session. He suggested that there might be two documents for IPF-4, oneincorporating the recommendations from IPF-3 and the other a tentative Chair’s draft thatwould illustrate how the former might be condensed. JAPAN suggested that the text beaccompanied by recommendations to the CSD regarding specific actions to be taken forthe Special Session of the General Assembly. He emphasized that unless there areadditional inputs to agreed text during IPF-4, “easy” portions of the document should befinalized as much as possible at IPF-3. The UK appealed to delegates to bear in mind thebigger picture of IPF and what they want its overall message to be. The outcome of IPF-3should note that a great deal of activity on forests has occurred since Rio, and it shouldhighlight the areas on which there has been significant progress, such as criteria andindicators. There must be a continuation of work on forestry after IPF-4 and some type ofmechanism for periodic review.

The INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES reported progressmade since the announcement of an intersessional meeting on traditional forest-relatedknowledge (TFRK) to be sponsored by Denmark and Colombia. A steering committeehas been formed and has determined the date and venue for the meeting. The meeting willtake place in Laticia, Colombia from 9-13 December 1996. He called for inclusion of themeeting’s findings in the IPF’s final report.

The Joint Working Group session adjourned at 4:00 pm and delegations and regionalgroups broke into informal consultations.


Many delegates expressed confusion at the state of play of IPF on Monday. One observersaid that the delay in distribution of new texts exacerbated an already pressed schedule.An NGO representative questioned the IPF’s ability to sort out the overlapping and cross-cutting items on its agenda by Friday. Another observer optimistically noted that suchseeming disarray is common to negotiations, and expressed gratitude for the Chair’sorganizational proposals on the remainder of the work for the session.


Working Group I: Working Group I will meet at 10:00 am in Room XIX and isexpected to continue discussions on programme element I.3, traditional forest-relatedknowledge.

Working Group II: Working Group II will meet at 10:00 am in Room XX and isexpected to continue discussions on programme element IV, trade and environment.

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