Report of main proceedings for 18 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 eighth day of thethird session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. Working Group I consideredrevised text on programme elements III.2 (criteria and indicators) and I.2 (underlyingcauses of deforestation). Working Group II considered draft text on programme elementsI.4 (desertification and air-borne pollution) and I.5 (countries with low forest cover). Ajoint Working Group session was convened in the afternoon to discuss the organization ofwork for the remainder of IPF-3 and the report of the meeting.


Working Group I continued discussion on programme element III.2 (criteria andindicators). The G-77/CHINA called for: criteria that reflect components of SFM; aglobal set of C&I; and contributions from donor countries and multilateral organizationsfor the development and implementation of C&I. He encouraged the application ofnationally agreed C&I in connection with voluntary codes. GABON, citing the RioDeclaration and Forest Principles, stated the need for the international community tomobilize the financial resources and technology required for C&I formulation and SFMin developing countries.

On programme element I.2 (underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation),the G-77/CHINA, supported by COLOMBIA, suggested language emphasizingproduction and consumption patterns, non-market values of forest goods and services,studies on historical causes of deforestation and forest degradation (D&FD), and“discriminatory” international trade “practices”. He proposed language from the ForestPrinciples for “management, conservation and sustainable development of all types offorests” for several locations in the text. The US proposed language on sustainablemanagement of forests rather than their use and/or sustainable development and added“other relevant policy frameworks” to a section referring to NFPs. He called for furtherstudy of the conclusions from a recent Norwegian conference on consumption andproduction patterns as underlying causes of D&FD, and said countries should “consider”rather than “prepare” corrective action on D&FD. Supported by JAPAN and CANADA,he said a reference to environmental impact assessments should be included as anexample of mechanisms to improve policy formulation and coordination rather than as aseperate point..

The EU deleted a statement that poverty and consumption patterns have a major influenceon deforestation and urged governments, “where relevant,” to prepare strategic studies ofthe implications of “current” consumption and production patterns for forests. She calledfor action on “the promotion of open and participatory programs for the implementationof NFPs, taking into account D&FD” rather than on the formulation and application ofnational strategies. She also emphasized language on: the “formulation of mechanismsaimed at the equitable sharing of benefits from the forests;” policies for securing landtenure for indigenous peoples and local communities; and prompt government actionwhen direct or indirect causes have been identified. She proposed deleting languagestating that diagnostic frameworks should not be used as a basis for ODA conditionality.

COLOMBIA proposed language acknowledging the need for an international meeting todiscuss the underlying causes of D&FD and urging countries to fund such a seminar.Environmental NGOs called for such a conference to be held before IPF-4. NEWZEALAND, for AUSTRALIA, CHILE, CHINA, SOUTH AFRICA and UGANDA,noted the role of plantation forests as an important element of SFM by taking pressure offnatural forests, and added language emphasizing the need for countries to actually use thediagnostic framework as an analytical tool in assessing options for utilization of forestsand forest lands. JAPAN proposed deleting language on the need to appraise benefits anddisbenefits of different types of forests under different conditions and on giving attentionto terms of trade, discriminatory trade practices and unsustainable policies related tosectors such as agriculture and energy. He added language supporting conversion ofplantation forests. He emphasized “securing” rather than “assessing” the quantity andquality of forest. INDIA highlighted the need for consistency in referring to“deforestation and forest degradation.”

NORWAY supported language for plantations provided they meet social, economic andenvironmental conditions including conservation of biodiversity. He called forstrengthening intersectoral decision-making and institutions for resource management.TURKEY added that the provision of timely and accurate information on underlyingcauses of D&FD is essential for public understanding and informed decision-making.Environmental NGOs called for “sustainable” rather than “economic” development,recognition of land tenure patterns’ influence on deforestation, and donor assistance toLDCs for conducting strategic analysis of policies contributing to D&FD. CANADAcalled for all countries to undertake research, technology transfer, case studies using thediagnostic framework and capacity-building activities for an integrated approach. Headded that international organizations and developed countries should assist countrieswith economies in transition as well as developing countries in strategic analysis.


Delegates discussed the draft text on programme element I.4 (desertification and air-borne pollution). On conclusions on desertification and drought, the US suggesteddeleting “in accordance with the IPF’s mandate, the Forest Principles and Agenda 21” ina paragraph on coordinated international cooperation on forests. The G-77/CHINAproposed including a reference to the CBD in this paragraph. He recommended addinglanguage regarding the positive and cost-effective results from plantations of fast-growthtrees in terms of soil protection, and adding a new subparagraph on the use of protectedareas as an in-situ conservation strategy for fragile and endangered ecosystemsaffected by drought and desertification. The EU proposed that forest-related action tocombat desertification “should be determined in the context of NFPs.” He suggesteddeleting the reference to the Committee on Science and Technology of the Convention toCombat Desertification as the proposed body to strengthen research on restoration andrehabilitation.

On conclusions on air-borne pollution, the EU called for new language highlighting theimportant role of education, training and extension systems aimed at specific groups.

On proposals for action on desertification and drought, the US emphasized the need toavoid duplication with the CCD. Supported by JAPAN and the G-77/CHINA, heproposed deleting the reference to long-term institutional and legal arrangements in aproposal for strengthening partnerships. He recommended a new proposal inviting theCommittee on Science and Technology of the CCD to undertake the identification ofappropriate tree species for arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid land restoration,rehabilitation of existing vegetation types, and the potential for non-timber products. TheAD HOC NGO FOREST WORKING GROUP recommended a new proposal onsupport for participatory research in resource management with indigenous people andlocal communities. The EU proposed inserting “institutional and land tenurereform” in a proposal on forest-related analysis and monitoring. He proposed addinglanguage on: coordination and harmonization of national forest and land use plans at theregional level; and consideration of dry land issues in NFPs and promotion of stakeholdereducation and training in dry lands management. The G-77/CHINA suggested a newproposal for action to promote protected areas where ecosystems in arid and semi-aridregions still exist, including preservation of water resources and traditional and historicaluses.

On proposals for action on air-borne pollution, TURKEY recommended a new proposalto promote technical cooperation, including information exchange and technicalassistance, to encourage capacity building in research. The US recommended adding anew proposal for further work under existing monitoring systems on ways to assess andmonitor national level C&I for SFM to air-borne pollutants. The EU proposed deleting areference to field data collection. JAPAN, supported by the G-77/CHINA, proposedmaking the reference to monitoring programmes more general rather than specifying onlythose of the EU and ECE. The G-77/CHINA proposed deleting a proposal to incorporatereduction of air pollution into national sustainable development strategies and a proposalencouraging regions to enter into binding agreements to reduce the impact of air-bornepollutants.

On programme element I.5 (countries with low forest cover), the US noted that someproposals on NFPs are covered under other programme elements and, with JAPAN,proposed deleting paragraphs on permanent forest estates, non-wood substitutes andForest Partnership Agreements. He also proposed a reference to “other policyframeworks.” With the EU, he proposed noting that ODA is “an” important source offunding, rather than “the most” important source. The EU also called for liaison withactivities under the framework of the CBD, use of the NFP concept and retention ofnatural species where appropriate. AD HOC NGO FOREST WORKING GROUPsaid special care should be given to avoid replacing natural species with large scale treeplantations.

The G-77/CHINA proposed language emphasizing: natural regeneration of degradedareas through involving indigenous people in management; national and internationalprotective mechanisms; and, precise identification for countries categorized as havinglow forest cover. He urged assistance for developing countries in order to increase theirforest cover through technology transfer and to gather and analyze data. UKRAINEcalled for references to countries with economies in transition.


A joint working group session met at 4:40 pm to discuss the schedule of work for theremainder of IPF-3 and the report of the meeting. The Chair proposed that the report fromIPF-3 the reflect positions of all countries and include bracketed text without attribution.The final report will consist of a general introduction on the meeting, the results on theprogramme elements and items to be considered at IPF-4, and organizational aspects. TheChair proposed a joint working group session on Thursday to discuss programmeelements V.1 (international organizations and multilateral institutions) and V.2 (legalmechanisms) and presentation of the results would be on Friday. There would be noafternoon session on Thursday in order to allow delegations additional time to considerthe draft texts.


Some participants are speculating on the need for an intersessional IPF Bureau meetingsometime after IPF-3 in order to work on draft text for IPF-4’s report to the CSD. Onedelegate said that while an open-ended meeting would allow all interested countries toparticipate, any effort to work out textual changes requires as small an assembly aspossible. An observer noted that if regional groups can consolidate positions it may meanthat not all countries will feel a need to be represented. Another expressed skepticism thatregional groups could find common ground by Friday.


Delegates have commented on the lack of timely translation of documents and its effecton the negotiations. Several delegates cite this as a primary cause for delays in progress.Some participants have noted that if documents can only be produced in one language, itmight be interesting if they were in a UN working language other than English, whichmight encourage some English-speaking countries to make sure dues are paid so as toprovide for translation.


Joint Working Group Session: A joint Working Group session will convene at11:00 am in Room XIX to consider programme elements V.1 (international organizationsand multilateral institutions) and V.2 (legal mechanisms).

XI World Forestry Congress: A meeting on the XI World Forestry Congress,scheduled for 13-22 October 1997 in Anatalya, Turkey, will be held in Room XXVII at2:00 pm.

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