Report of main proceedings for 19 September 1996

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

Plenary convened on the ninth day of the third session of the Intergovernmental Panel onForests. Programme elements V.1 (international organizations and multilateralinstitutions) and V.2 (legal mechanisms) were discussed in a morning session. Regionalgroup meetings were held in the afternoon.


The EU called for improved efforts to integrate and clarify the mandate and task of UNagencies and strengthen their coordination. He proposed replacing a reference to nationalforest development with national forest programmes (NFPs). In a paragraph on researchby international organizations, he noted the need for coordination with regional,intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

The G-77/CHINA proposed language inviting governments to contribute to this processin order to improve the work of forest-related institutions. He proposed replacing severalreferences to “SFM” in the text with “management, conservation and sustainabledevelopment of forests” from the Forest Principles. On proposals for action, he deletedreferences to “regional” and “global” data collection and projects and to specific agenciesfor research and development. He also proposed noting that the Panel “stressed the need”for information and a “comprehensive” study of international organizations andmultilateral institutions.

The US said programme element V.1 is essential because it “should provide a clearerview of forest-related work” and proposed noting that there is significant potential forbetter coordination and collaboration, rather than further enhancement, of existinginternational structures. He called for improved participation of major groups in forestfora to promote SFM, and added the World Conservation Monitoring Centre to a list oforganizations that should enhance strategic data sets. He suggested focusing, rather thanstrengthening, relevant international organizations.

CANADA proposed replacing “sub-regional” with “sub-national” action toward SFMand deleting a reference to building consensus on standards. He called for theestablishment of a high-level forum for international policy debate on forests. Herecommended replacing a reference to national forest development with “national forestplans or programmes.” He supported the proposal for further study of the institutions andinstruments relevant to forests and highlighted the need to identify the institutionalcapacity to implement the UNCED agreements. SWITZERLAND agreed that furtherstudy of forest-related institutions and instruments is very important, but emphasized thatother analyses should not be ruled out. He called for an independent review of theforthcoming proposals of the Inter-agency Task Force on Forests. JAPAN proposedreplacing cross-sectoral “solutions” with “aspects” in a proposal to accelerateincorporation of forest-related UNCED decisions. He suggested that countries, rather thaninternational organizations, facilitate international consultations on SFM, and proposedthat these consultations develop, rather than implement, principles and content of NFPs.He recommended deleting a proposal to assign forest programmes increased priority inbilateral ODA.

In a proposal to strengthen forest research and development, AUSTRALIA advocated theaddition of UNEP to a list of organizations, although he supported the US’ proposal togeneralize the reference by replacing the list with “relevant international organizations.”He proposed development of a strategic framework for global forest research. Hesupported further work on the issues under discussion and suggested language requestingthe Secretariat to “undertake an explicit needs analysis and associated work on optionsfor any institutional and legal arrangements to be discussed at IPF-4, including broadcastings of the options.”

To a paragraph on enhancing the capacity of the existing institutional structure, theAD HOC NGO FOREST WORKING GROUP proposed that in addition toclarification and redefinition of forest-related mandates, effective implementation is alsoimportant. To a paragraph on promoting shared institutional objectives, he recommendedadding participation of indigenous peoples and local communities, and proposedlanguage on measures to enhance their participation, such as opportunities to review andcomment on draft negotiation texts, participation on national delegations and specialcontracts to provide technical analyses and convene seminars. He advocated expanding aproposal to accelerate incorporation of forest-related UNCED decisions to include the fullrange of forest values. MEXICO recommended a reference in support of national forestprogrammes and activities and another proposal encouraging “international organizationsthat deal with trade-related aspects to contribute to activities that bring about greatermarket transparency and access.” She said it is important to retain the paragraph callingfor further study of forest-related institutions and instruments.

On programme element V.2 (legal mechanisms), the G-77/CHINA, supported byMALAYSIA, argued for a holistic and comprehensive treatment of existing legalmechanisms and their relation to conservation, management, and sustainabledevelopment of forests. Supported by the PHILIPPINES and MALAYSIA, he called forclear identification of existing gaps in such mechanisms, such as on trade andenvironment and on financing of technology.

The US noted there is no consensus on gaps and overlaps identified nor on what existingorganizations can accomplish. Supported by NEW ZEALAND, he called for an extensionof the current IPF with a more focused mandate. He called for a report from theSecretariat for IPF-4. Such a document would examine continuation of the IPF’s adhoc inter-agency mechanism as well as alternative mechanisms for continuing theforest dialogue using existing structures such as FAO and ad hoc temporaryorganizations. It should also consider duration of meetings and of the Panel. The EUemphasized that the Panel should send a clear message to the Special Session of the UNGeneral Assembly in 1997 to engage a high-level commitment and guidance onworldwide forest management and its successful implementation.

SWITZERLAND supported the call for a report for IPF-4 and called for negotiations on aframework convention that would: provide a holistic programme for SFM; facilitatecoordination and implementation of existing programmes and instruments; and fosternegotiation of regional instruments. He also suggested that IPF participants should beable to make substantive proposals for the report for IPF-4 on various options such as themandates or structure of future instruments in order to facilitate discussion on concreteelements.

JAPAN said proposals for action should be considered simply as conclusions, leavingdeliberations of actions for IPF-4. He supported the need for continued internationalconsultation on forest issues, but called for language stressing the general need for aholistic and comprehensive approach rather than a specific continuation and enhancementof the current exercise.

<W0>The AD HOC NGO FOREST WORKING GROUP emphasized: theeffective implementation of existing agreements; consideration of opportunities to reformexisting instruments informally; promotion of programmes of action that interpret andclarify responsibilities within existing instruments; and the possibility of negotiatingamendments to existing agreements that focus specifically on forests and SFM. ThePHILIPPINES called for stronger language on the need for a high-levelintergovernmental mechanism and sought one holistic instrument on forests rather than aseparate convention on trade in forest products.

MALAYSIA called for recognition that existing instruments collectively imposesignificant responsibilities and commitments on tropical producers but not on temperateand boreal producers. He said that proposed protocols to existing conventions would giveunbalanced treatment to forest issues rather than the required holistic approach, notinggaps in the handling of certain issues such as financing, technology and resource transferand capacity-building under existing instruments. He also supported a high-level inter-agency task force to support continued international forest dialogue. With MEXICO, hecalled for a set time frame for actions to ensure definite progress. NEW ZEALANDexpressed willingness to consider numerous options including a convention. MEXICOsupported calls for preparation of a document for IPF-4 and said it should address theexisting gap on economic issues such as the comprehensive need for technology andresource transfer and international policies that have an impact SFM. She called forfurther work on the shared common responsibility of the international community anddifferentiated responsibilities. ARGENTINA urged that options remain open and calledfor a study devising a comprehensive programme on SFM at the international level.INDIA sought the establishment of a mechanism similar to IPF, with some refinement,and suggested that a new legal instrument may not be necessary. BRAZIL noted thePanel has the option to maintain the status quo, modify it or adopt new instruments and/orarrangements. He highlighted the need to take the onus off governments and increaseprivate sector involvement.

UGANDA expressed concern regarding the Panel’s emphasis on continued deliberationsrather than necessary action. He suggested that the Secretariat’s report contain onlyproposals for action. He opposed the adoption of an instrument focusing on trade. PERUsupported continued contributions to IPF and the establishment of an independent bodyof experts. He acknowledged the potential application of the results of the Swiss-Peruvianinitiative. COLOMBIA proposed language calling for increased responsibility for theprivate sector. He said any instrument or mechanism adopted by the Panel should addressthe impacts and repercussions on other conventions and the work of the CSD.

INDONESIA sought incorporation of language contained in the Forest Principles andAgenda 21. GABON supported the continuation of an international dialogue, but said theproduct of such a dialogue must lead to a fair distribution of costs for achieving SFM. Heurged countries to form consensus at the regional level and contribute regionally to theformation of an international instrument. The ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIONAGENCY supported the development and implementation of a legally-binding agreementon forests but not on forest trade. A single multilateral body to administer an instrumentis needed due to the number of cross-cutting issues involved.


Several observers have noted that the end result of IPF-3 is bound to include heavilybracketed text, and volunteered ideas for next steps. Some participants speculate thatthere may not be consensus for an intersessional open-ended Bureau meeting to furtherconsider the text to be taken to IPF-4. Others have expressed a desire for a second weekto be added to IPF-4’s session. It remains to be seen whether UN budget constraints canbe overcome so that IPF-4 can have time to complete its work effectively.


Working Groups: Working Group I will meet at 10:00 am in Room XIX.Working Group II will meet at 10:00 am in Room XX. Both groups are expected to adoptdecisions on their respective programme elements.

Plenary: Plenary will convene at 3:00 pm to adopt decisions and the report of themeeting.

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