Report of main proceedings for 17 September 1996

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

Working Groups I and II met in morning and afternoon sessions on the seventh day of thethird session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. Working Group I considereddraft texts on programme elements I.3 (traditional forest-related knowledge), III.1 (a)(assessment), III.1(b) (valuation) and III.2 (criteria and indicators). Working Group IIconsidered draft texts on programme elements II (international financial assistance andtechnology transfer) and IV (trade and environment).


Working Group I considered draft text on programme element I.3 on traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK). The G-77/CHINA said indigenous peoples’ intellectualproperty rights and rights to patents should be addressed. The US noted that the CBDshould complement rather than direct the IPF’s work on TFRK. The introduction of newtechnologies and economic opportunities can accelerate forest loss and undermine forestcommunities and TFRK. The EU recognized the importance of TFRK in the developmentof NFPs. She said forest owners should also contribute to the attainment of SFM.

Environmental NGOs promoted the sharing of TFRK among indigenous peoples,concerned groups and institutions, and urged governments to collaborate with thesegroups in compiling TFRK at national and local levels. NORWAY said existinginstruments should be developed and implemented to be mutually supportive whileavoiding duplication of work. CANADA encouraged support for capacity building ofindigenous peoples and local communities and their participation as full partners in SFM.JAPAN invited governments to identify practical knowledge, innovations and practicesrelevant to the conservation and management of forest biodiversity. A NAPGUANArepresentative noted that indigenous peoples could contribute more effectively if reportswere available in languages other than English. TFRK should be seen as an integral partof indigenous peoples’ lives and not just a marketable commodity.

The CHAIR introduced draft negotiating text on programme element III.I.(a)(assessment). The EU highlighted: international forest assessments and criteria andindicators (C&I); regular data updates; accessibility of assessment programs;comparability of data collection; and, liaisons with the CBD to ensure that gaps inknowledge are addressed quickly. The US distinguished the FAO’s Global ForestResource Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000) from forest resources assessments in general, andimplementation plans from strategic plans. He deleted Forest Principles language on“sustainable use, conservation and equitable sharing of benefits” and on the urgent needfor additional resources. In a paragraph on contributions of forests, NEW ZEALANDcalled for reference to “economies” rather than GNP and to deforestation and forestdegradation.

Environmental NGOs objected to the document’s emphasis on timber-oriented values andcalled for: consultations with all stakeholders to identify all benefits; use of an ecosystemapproach; and broader participation in FRA 2000. JAPAN called for language onimproving the quality of forest assessments and, supported by the G-77/CHINA, forstandardization of definitions and categories of forests. CANADA requested FAO toinclude a broad range of values, including non-timber values, in FRA 2000. The G-77/CHINA called for: use of national forest assessments, where appropriate, in thedevelopment of NFPs and FRA 2000 assessment of non-wood forest products.

On programme element III.1(b) (valuation of forest benefits), the EU noted the need toaddress the values of forest owners. She said that while a variety of valuationmethodologies have been developed, governments should encourage development ofadditional methodologies addressing their own legal and political circumstances. The USsaid the report exceeds the mandate of the CSD. Further discussion on the issue is neededwithin the context of the CBD and FCCC. References to religious values of forests shouldbe omitted. The G-77/CHINA said methodologies to assess the social, cultural andeconomic impacts of forest degradation are needed. He called for matrices matchingavailable forest valuation methodologies with required data sets for all forest goods andservices. NORWAY requested that the costs associated with changes in forest quality beanalyzed. CANADA noted input from the COP of CBD concerning valuationmethodologies and welcomed additional input from the CBD, particularly technicaladvice on collaboration.

On programme element III.2 (C&I), the EU highlighted: the importance of C&Iimplementation at all levels; descriptive criteria; land use plans; mutual recognition,consistency and convergence of C&I; and, with the US, forest owner and land tenureissues. JAPAN requested recognition of levels equivalent to management-level units and,with the US, voiced concerns over what criteria should help to assess. The UShighlighted variations in links between national and forest management unit level C&Iand concerns over: benefit apportionment; forest management unit C&I; and, C&I as abasis for trade restrictions. FINLAND, with the EU, suggested language from its recentC&I seminar on, inter alia, actions for poverty alleviation, institutionstrengthening, human resources development and public participation; consensus onterms; and research on C&I for measuring biodiversity, non-wood forest products, non-market benefits and human and cross-sectoral impacts on forests. Environmental NGOsstressed language on sub-national level C&I for large countries and CBD assistance onC&I for forest quality and biodiversity. CANADA said CBD work should complementexisting C&I frameworks.


Working Group II continued discussion of programme element II (international financialassistance and technology transfer). The G-77/CHINA proposed replacing all referencesin the text to “SFM” with “management, conservation and sustainable development offorests” from the Forest Principles. She also proposed noting additional references fromthe Forest Principles and deleting “investment” from a reference to the investment gapbetween needed and available resources.The EU proposed noting disinvestment in theforest sector and the role of NFPs in prioritizing financial investment. NORWAYproposed that the Panel “note” rather than “confirm” the investment gap. The US saidreferences to the Forest Principles should only be included as needed and proposedrecognizing the need to increase the absorptive capacity of markets.

On public finance, the G-77/CHINA proposed noting that levels of funding for forests areinsufficient and declining, and recognizing that forest-related projects financed throughthe GEF are guided by international conventions. She highlighted: countries with lowforest cover; solutions to debt problems; and market-based, rather than economic,instruments. The EU recommended a proposal for financing NFP initiatives indeveloping countries. SWITZERLAND proposed more effective use of existing financialmechanisms. The US, supported by IUCN, added a reference to community-basedenterprises. IUCN, with INDIA, recommended adding a separate section on communitysector investment.

On private sector investment, the EU, supported by AUSTRALIA, proposed includingthe negative social and environmental aspects of policies and regulations. NEWZEALAND, supported by the G-77/CHINA, JAPAN and CANADA, suggested removingthe brackets around “voluntary” codes of conduct. AUSTRALIA proposed insertingcareful evaluation of policies and regulations before implementation. The G-77/CHINAproposed adding: fair and even distribution of private capital flows among developingcountries; strengthening national regulations and enforcement; and cooperation withmajor groups. The US said it is premature to include voluntary codes of conduct, but theirpotential should be explored. She proposed, with IUCN, deleting the reference to taxbreaks. IUCN recommended a proposal on community forest management.

On technology transfer, CANADA recommended a reference to related work oncooperation being conducted in the CBD. The G-77/CHINA proposed condensing threeproposals on research, and the UK, supported by the US, proposed creating a separateheading. The NETHERLANDS called for research on human impacts on forest protectedareas. On coordination, the G-77/CHINA called for development of indicators formonitoring the “adequacy” and effectiveness of international cooperation. She proposeddeleting references to: an external agency to support in-country donor coordination;mandatory coordination among UN organizations; and Internet-based informationsystems. AUSTRALIA called for a shared vision of SFM toward common objectives.The US proposed that NFPs provide a good basis for priority setting “in many countries,”and national level coordination “in recipient countries.” CANADA proposed a referenceto international instruments related to forests, particularly CBD and FCCC.

Delegates proposed amendments to the draft text on programme element IV (trade andenvironment). The G-77/CHINA proposed deleting “in special circumstances, traderestriction may be necessary to achieve environmental objectives.” The US recommendeddeleting the need to explore an agreement on trade in forest products. ZIMBABWEadvocated further studies on non-wood forest products and on domestic trade in forestproducts.

On market access, the G-77/CHINA recommended new proposals for: assessment of theeffectiveness and trade impacts of subsidies; removal of all unilateral bans and boycotts;and exploration of the possible need for an agreement on trade in forest products and forvoluntary codes of conduct. Environmental NGOs proposed references to the possibilitythat non-tariff barriers may promote SFM and to exceptions to WTO rules contained inthe Uruguay Round agreements. The TIMBER TRADE ASSOCIATION suggestedincluding the potential negative effects of trade restrictions in forest products.

On the relative competitiveness of forest products, the G-77/CHINA suggested languageon mechanisms for community-based processing and marketing of wood and non-timberforest products. On lesser used species, the US, supported by environmental NGOs,proposed a reference to community-level efforts in technology development.Environmental NGOs proposed promotion of non-timber forest products.

On certification, the G-77/CHINA emphasized that certification schemes should betransparent, nondiscriminatory and rational. The EU proposed adding “labelling” to thesection title and language noting that voluntary eco-labelling and certification are notconsidered non-tariff barriers. SWITZERLAND, supported by NEW ZEALAND,suggested deletion of the term “international harmonization.”

Environmental NGOs, supported by AUSTRALIA, recommended deleting the referenceto feasibility of country certification. AUSTRALIA proposed a reference to the marketimplications and credibility of certification schemes and new language regardingperformance standards and environmental management systems as important componentsof SFM. CANADA proposed noting the likelihood that some certification and labellingschemes will use certification as one criterion for sustainable forest products.GERMANY called upon relevant agencies to ensure transparency. JAPAN noted theneeds of small forest owners. On the proposals for action, the EU proposed references totechnical barriers to trade and the proliferation of schemes. The G-77/CHINA called upontrade agencies to bring certification into perspective and promote internationalharmonization among schemes. The US noted the need to ensure that new schemescomply with WTO agreements on technical barriers to trade. On full cost internalization,NORWAY said that social and economic costs may not be reflected in the market.Environmental NGOs proposed references to the reallocation of costs and benefits.Industry NGOs proposed deleting language noting that full cost internalization “isessential for” SFM. The US said exchange of information should “facilitate discussion”rather than “speed up” implementation. On transparency, the G-77/CHINA notedcommunity participation and the EU and environmental NGOs called for an assessmentof illegal trade in forest products.


Many participants have speculated on the kind of document that will emerge from IPF-3.Some delegates are expressing optimism that the IPF can complete discussion on texts bythe end of IPF-3, even if “completion” means heavily bracketed text. Others see thespectre of a Chair’s Summary as a serious possibility, at least for some programmeelements.


Working Group I: Working Group will meet at 10:00 am in Room XIX and isexpected to consider programme element I.2 (underlying causes).

Working Group II: Working Group will meet at 10:00 am in Room XX and isexpected to consider programme elements I.4 (desertification and air-borne pollution) andI.5 (countries with low forest cover).

Further information