Report of main proceedings for 13 February 1997

4th Session of the CSD Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

Delegates began negotiations on Elements of a draft report (E/CN.17/IPF/1997/3) intwo working groups on the third day of IPF-4. Working Group I discussed actions andconclusions under programme elements I.1 (national forest and land-use plans) and I.2(underlying causes of deforestation). Working Group II initiated discussion on financialassistance under programme element II (financial assistance and technology transfer).


Co-Chair Holdgate reminded delegates that a quarter of IPF-4 had passed, and noagreements had been reached. Thus the moment of truth had arrived.

NATIONAL FOREST AND LAND-USE PLANS: Discussion began withproposals for action on national forest and land-use programmes. A US proposal toreplace “NFPs” with “national forest programmes” was adopted, as was the deletion of allreferences to other appropriate or relevant policy frameworks. The US advocatedemploying “sustainable forest management” (SFM) instead of “the management,conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.” PERU, VENEZUELAand CANADA noted that the meaning of SFM is not yet clear. The Co-Chair proposed acontact group including both Working Groups.

For the subparagraph on national forest programmes, the G-77/CHINA proposed adding areference to specific national conditions and legislation. JAPAN recommended adding areference to evaluation. Both amendments were adopted. The US, supported by the G-77/CHINA and CANADA, suggested inserting references to the wide range ofapproaches for SFM in NFPs. An informal contact group chaired by CANADA amendedthis subparagraph by inserting, inter alia: consistency with sub-national policies;partnership mechanisms; secure land tenure arrangements for indigenous and localcommunities; valuation; and ecosystem approaches which include biodiversity.

The subparagraph on cooperation in SFM was amended by the G-77/CHINA by adding“as appropriate” to encouraging all countries to use NFPs while the subparagraph oncriteria and indicators (C&I) was amended when JAPAN added “evaluation” and theREPUBLIC OF KOREA added “on a step-by-step basis.”

The subparagraph on planning systems was amended by a reference to the evaluation ofNFPs. The ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS-TRIBAL PEOPLES OF THE TROPICALFORESTS, with the support of the EU and COLOMBIA, suggested replacing“indigenous people, communities, or populations” with “indigenous peoples” and“representation” with “participation.” BRAZIL and the G-77/CHINA amended“indigenous peoples” to “indigenous people.” The EU added references to forest ownersand private management systems.

A subparagraph on encouraging capacities in all sectors was deleted. Text encouraginggovernments to establish national coordination mechanisms and strategies to promoteNFP implementation was agreed. After suggestions by the G-77/CHINA, the EU, the USand the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, a subparagraph on developing partnerships, whichcould include partnership agreements, was accepted.

COLOMBIA, DENMARK and several other delegations proposed paragraphs formulatedby the ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS-TRIBAL PEOPLES OF THE TROPICALFORESTS encouraging prior informed consent and benefits-sharing in territories ofindigenous and other forest peoples. UGANDA, the US and VENEZUELA objected. Theparagraphs were referred to a contact group. JAPAN, supported by the US, the G-77/CHINA and CANADA, added a paragraph urging participatory mechanisms tointegrate research into planning cycles.

Regarding conclusions, the G-77/CHINA added national constitutional and legalframeworks into text recognizing special groups’ traditional rights. The US deleted areference to forest workers in the same section, which was then agreed.

A contact group was formed to negotiate amendments on the first paragraph underconclusions that defines national forest programmes. Delegates deferred discussion ofaction proposals and conclusions on financial resources and capacity-building pendingconsultations with Working Group II.

UNDERLYING CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION: After the US, the EU andothers suggested deleting a paragraph on studies of underlying causes of deforestation,delegates agreed to an AUSTRALIAN amendment proposing that, as appropriate,countries prepare in-depth studies, analyze historical causes, and provide information ontransboundary pollution. The US added a reference to “long-term trends” regardingsustainability of wood supply and demand. NEW ZEALAND added language on the roleof plantation forests. The paragraph was agreed.

The subparagraph on analyzing policies with a positive effect was adopted. The USamended the subparagraph on national strategies by adding “as appropriate” to thereference to goals for national forest cover. The subparagraph on mechanisms to improvepolicy was retained with the US amendment of “such as” rather than “including”environmental impact assessment. The subparagraph on securing land tenure wasamended with equitable “and appropriate” sharing of benefits.

Text recommending timely provision of information on underlying causes was acceptedwith minor amendments. The US deleted references to research and technology transferin the proposal on financial assistance to developing counties. The G-77/CHINA urgedretention of case studies and capacity building, and the paragraph was agreed.

With amendments from the US, NEW ZEALAND and the EU, delegates agreed to aparagraph urging developed countries, the UNDP and other organizations to assistcountries in identifying underlying causes, applying and refining a “diagnosticframework.” Language supporting the Biodiversity Convention’s work programme onunderlying causes of biodiversity loss was added by SWEDEN, CANADA andNORWAY following a suggestion by GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL.

Conclusions on the need to understand underlying causes and effects of production andconsumption were agreed. A reference to poverty was added to the conclusion onsustainable development and removed from one on socioeconomic factors, anddemographic pressure, mining and petroleum exploration were added.


A number of proposals related to financial assistance were addressed, many of whichwere referred to a contact group.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: The G-77/CHINA proposed that internationalorganizations increase the proportion and availability of ODA. He objected to languagelimiting recipients to developing countries where private investment has been low.CANADA emphasized the importance of concentrating on these countries’ needs. TheUS advocated replacing “management, conservation and sustainable development of alltypes of forests” from the Forest Principles with “SFM,” but the G-77/CHINA noted thatthe SFM is only one component of the former. SWITZERLAND said assistance shouldalso be given to countries poor in forest resources and who have developed policies toencourage SFM.

The US proposed adding “or other relevant policy processes” to bilateral and multilateralorganizations’ use of “national forest programmes” as a framework, as “NFP” issometimes used restrictively. CANADA and the EU advocated maintaining “NFPs”.MEXICO deleted a reference to national-level forest assessments.

On multilateral organizations’ forest programmes, the US proposed replacing “forest andforest-related activities” with “SFM activities,” but several delegations objected.

After proposals by the EU, SWITZERLAND and the US to delete a paragraph onclarifying the gap in resources to achieve SFM, discussion focused on whether a “gap”can be defined. The US and JAPAN preferred language requesting clarification ofavailable resources for achieving SFM while the EU preferred requesting identification ofurgent priority needs for developing countries. JAPAN asked for guidelines to determinethe percentage of ODA going to forests. INDIA proposed using Agenda 21 figures todetermine the global gap. References to international financial institutions and the donorcommunity were added to text reccomending that UN organizations clarify the resourcegap.

On innovative ways to use financial mechanisms and generate additional resources, therewas general agreement that “forest-specific” resources should include resources from“within and outside the forestry sector.” BRAZIL proposed language on “new andadditional” financial resources. CANADA rejected “new” but supported the concept ofdevoting additional resources to forests. MALAYSIA and the PHILIPPINES opposedweakening Forest Principles language. GABON proposed language calling for developedcountries to find solutions to developing country debt, to which the US added debtorcountries. Delegates agreed to refer to the debt problem, either in this or a new paragraph.

PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT: Delegates removed brackets around“voluntary” codes to guide investments. The US proposed a new formulation to focus onthe role of the private sector in implementing voluntary codes of conduct. MEXICOadded language on mechanisms to reinvest income from forest products back into theforest sector, but the US proposed “ways” as less prescriptive than “mechanisms.” TheUS, supported by CANADA and INDONESIA but opposed by AUSTRALIA, noted thatadopting policies for full cost pricing is premature. CANADA said it is the private sector,not governments, that should develop voluntary codes.

Regarding incentives in developed countries for private sector investment in SFM, theEU added a reference to countries with private overseas investment in the forest sector.The US deleted a reference to tax breaks as incentives. GABON proposed languagecalling on developed countries to adapt policies and formulate incentives that encouragethe private sector to follow SFM principles and to invest in forest sectors in developingcountries.

NATIONAL CAPACITY AND COORDINATION: After several proposeddeletions on country-driven NFPs, delegates agreed to refer the definition of NFPs toWorking Group I. The US specified that “recipient” countries should reflect their nationalpriorities in their efforts and that donor “countries and” agencies “support,” rather than“finance,” national initiatives “to establish forest programmes and national policyframeworks.”

The US added a reference to employing “other economic instruments” to market-basedinstruments. INDIA recommended “internalizing” rather than “reducing” social costs andenvironmental impacts.

After attempts to amend text on community financing, language based on a proposal bySWITZERLAND to “enhance community-based forest management systems, includingcommunity financing as a fundamental strategy” was debated. VENEZUELA proposedlanguage stressing that mechanisms should be within the constitutional and legalframework of each country and referred to indigenous groups and land and forest owners.International organizations and institutions and multilateral financial institutions wereadded to the list of bodies which should enhance community-based efforts.

CANADA removed language on decentralizing planning and implementation ofdevelopment activities and referred it to Working Group I. Delegates also deletedsubparagraphs on: involving all concerned national bodies in planning, implementationand monitoring processes; pooling national resources to improve efficiency; and creatingan enabling environment for the use of environmentally sound technologies.

On identifying national authorities to coordinate deployment of finances, the USrecommended specifying “recipient” countries.


The question of whether to substitute the term “sustainable forest management” for“management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests” arose inboth Working Groups and in the corridors, leading delegates and observers to ponderpossible ramifications of such a change. Many who advocate the use of SFM believe thatthe term represents progress in the international forest policy dialogue since the time theForest Principles were crafted in Rio. Those who wish to retain the Rio language say thatit encompasses a broader range of social, economic and environmental values than doesSFM. Others are concerned that replacing Forest Principles language could dilute relatedcommitments to financial assistance for developing countries, and the application of IPFoutcomes to all types of forests.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I will meet in Conference Room 1 toconclude negotiations on programme element I.2 (underlying causes of deforestation) andbegin discussion of I.3 (traditional forest-related knowledge), I.4 (ecosystems affected bydesertification and pollution) and I.5 (countries with low forest cover). Look for theContact Group’s conclusions on I.1 (national forest and land-use plans).

WORKING GROUP II: Working Group II will meet in Conference Room 2 toconclude discussion of financial assistance and begin negotiating technology transfer andcapacity building and information.

Further information