Report of main proceedings for 18 February 1997

4th Session of the CSD Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

Negotiations continued in two working groups and contact groups on the fifth dayof IPF-4. Working Group I completed review of actions under assessment, forestresearch, valuation methodologies and criteria and indicators (C&I) and discussedconclusions in several programme elements. Working Group II completed initialdiscussion of actions under trade and environment.


AUSTRALIA reported from the contact group on nomenclature progress on the use of:“countries” instead of “governments;” “sustainable forest management” and “nationalforest programmes” rather than their acronyms; and use of “sustainable forestmanagement” or “the management, conservation and sustainable development of allforest types” depending on the context, the former referring to national level action andthe latter to international action. CANADA reported that Working Group II’s contactgroup had made some progress on issues under financial assistance, private sectorinvestment, national capacity and coordination and technology transfer, but text oncommunity financing, international cooperation and new and additional resourcesrequires further consultation.


ASSESSMENT: In the subparagraph on national C&I, the US inserted“national” forest assessment, deleted references to FAO and cultural values and inserted“including qualitative indicators.” The EU added a new subparagraph on improvingnational forest resource assessment (FRA) and analysis of forest statistics. UGANDAadded a reference to UNEP in the subparagraph on the FAO and FRA 2000. NORWAYinserted a new subparagraph on the ecosystem approach and beginning a consultativeprocess with indigenous people and local communities. The subparagraph on definitionswas amended with an NGO insertion on formulation “in an open and transparent manner”and a US insertion of “global” forest assessment.

FOREST RESEARCH: The G-77/CHINA added the Framework Convention onClimate Change to a subparagraph calling on the CBD and CCD to research knowledgegaps and, with the US, added references to the treaties’ mandates and competence. Thesubparagraph was accepted with these amendments.

JAPAN, supported by CANADA and MALAYSIA, added a new subparagraph urgingincreased applied research.

VALUATION METHODOLOGIES: NORWAY added text taking into accountenvironmental, socioeconomic, ethical, cultural and religious aspects as well as economicvaluation in a subparagraph on improved valuation of all forest goods and services. TheG-77/CHINA substituted “taking into account the particular circumstances of eachcountry” for a similar list of values in the subparagraph on methodology development,and added erosion to a list of research areas. The G-77/CHINA amended thesubparagraph on available methods and data to request a comprehensive document anddeleted language specifying local through international levels. These subparagraphs and aUS proposal to delete a subparagraph on legal and economic circumstances wereaccepted.

CRITERIA AND INDICATORS: Delegates debated the proper relationshipbetween C&I at national and other levels in several subparagraphs. An lengthy discussionof bracketed text on “global reference criteria” as a “common denominator” drew callsfor deletion from the G-77/CHINA, the US, NEW ZEALAND, BRAZIL andCOLOMBIA and suggestions to retain or amend the text from CANADA, AUSTRALIA,and the EU. The bracketed text was removed and the subparagraph, drawing oncommonalities in various initiatives, was accepted.

NEW ZEALAND and the G-77/CHINA added references to specific country conditionsand to internationally and regionally agreed initiatives in a subparagraph encouragingnational C&I. CANADA added NGO-proposed language on the use of a participatorymechanism to this and to the subparagraph on the use of C&I. In the latter subparagraph,delegates deleted text that C&I could facilitate certifying SFM and rejected AUSTRALIAand the EU’s suggestion to use “voluntary certification” after objections from the US,NEW ZEALAND, GABON and REPUBLIC OF KOREA. Delegates also alteredlanguage on cross-sectoral approaches, deleted voluntary codes and urged compatibility“at all levels.” In the subparagraph encouraging wider participation in C&I initiatives, theG-77/CHINA added “adequate” technical and financial assistance and participation at the“operational” level.

Delegates substituted “common international understanding” for “internationalagreement” on terms and concepts and “similarities” for “mutual recognition andconvergence” in a subparagraph about relating C&I initiatives. The G-77/CHINAreplaced C&I “frameworks” with “initiatives” in the subparagraph on CBD Parties.

CONCLUSIONS: The draft conclusions on TFRK contained inE/CN.17/IPF/1997/3/WG.I/L.3 were negotiated. VENEZUELA deleted language ongovernance and culture in the paragraph on defining TFRK and inserted references tonational legislation. In the paragraph on communities with sustainable lifestyles,“technological change” replaced “new technologies.” To the subparagraph on valuablenew products, COLOMBIA inserted “prior” before informed consent but no agreementwas reached on whether to include language on: “payment of royalty on IPR;”“indigenous legal systems and customary law;” or replacement of “payment” for“compensation.” The subparagraphs on exchange of information and on the acquisitionand dissemination of TFRK were agreed. The G-77/CHINA added a reference toequitable sharing of benefits in the subparagraph on the CBD.

The Working Group reviewed conclusions on countries with low forest cover(E/CN.17/IPF/1997/3/WG.I/L.5) and on assessment, forest research and valuation in anevening session.


RELATIVE COMPETITIVENESS OF FOREST PRODUCTS: On economicstudies of potential competition, JAPAN deleted references to competition betweendifferent forest products and products from different regions of origin. On increasingproductivity in downstream processing activities, the US replaced “promote” with“support, where appropriate,” community-based processing and marketing of forestproducts.

LESSER USED SPECIES: On promoting lesser used species (LUS), CANADA,with the US, replaced “products” with “species” and specified “where increased use isconsistent with SFM.” The G-77/CHINA called for “international” agencies “andresearch institutions” to promote LUS. The US added “countries” and specified“domestic” and international markets.

On policies for SFM, the G-77/CHINA replaced “exploitation” with “utilization.” TheUS added “of economically-viable” LUS. On technologies to increase utilization, the G-77/CHINA added that institutions should “transfer technology and” support efforts todevelop “and adapt” technologies. The US inserted “sustainable” utilization.

CERTIFICATION AND LABELLING: On the relationship between SFM, tradeand certification and labelling (C&L), the G-77/CHINA suggested “further examinationof the role of voluntary C&L of forest products with regard to SFM” and proposed newlanguage on governments’ role in ensuring that schemes: are transparent, voluntary andnondiscriminatory; have open access and full participation; observe national sovereignty;and do not conflict with relevant domestic regulations. SWITZERLAND, supported byCANADA but opposed by the G-77/CHINA, noted that the role of governments in C&Lschemes is not yet clear, so countries should “support” rather than “ensure” that schemesare not used as a form of disguised protectionism. SWITZERLAND proposed that sincemany C&L schemes are private and thus not covered under WTO rules, the reference tothe Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement be replaced with “general internationalobligations” and the WTO not be specified to undertake the proposed actions.

On applying principles to certification, the G-77/CHINA and the US replaced thereference to WTO members with “all countries,” changed “principles” to “concepts” anddeleted “practicability and direct relationship to” SFM. A clause on “equivalent standardsand mutual recognition” was deferred to the contact group. AUSTRALIA added theconcept of transparency. The US gave “credibility” its own clause.

On further studies on certification, the US proposed language recognizing the marketorientation of certification schemes and specified that relevant organizations with a“mandate” should study certification “schemes.” Based on a US proposal, the “need totake account of” was replaced with the “relationship between various” C&I frameworks“and certification.” The US, supported by AUSTRALIA and JAPAN but opposed by theEU and SWITZERLAND, recommended replacing “the potential role of governments inrelation to” with “issues relevant to” the development, implementation, promotion andmutual recognition of C&I schemes. This section was referred to the contact group.

To a clause on the special needs of small forest owners, the G-77/CHINA added localcommunities, and the US added other forest-dependent populations. CANADA opposed aUS proposal to delete further study on accreditation. The accreditation issue wassubmitted to the contact group. The G-77/CHINA proposed new clauses on the impact onrelative competitiveness and the need for equitable equivalent labelling arrangements forsubstitutes and on needs of countries with low forest cover.

The EU, with the US and the G-77/CHINA, replaced text on CIFOR with languageinviting countries to consider the relevance to certification schemes of “the CIFORproject on C&I for SFM.” On international harmonization and mutual recognition,CANADA proposed deleting a list of organizations and a clause on facilitating andpromoting trade in forest products and recommended promoting “equivalency” andmutual recognition. After considerable debate this was supported by the EU,SWITZERLAND, and the G-77/CHINA. The US recommended deleting thesubparagraph. It was deferred to the contact group.

On information exchange, the EU, with the G-77/CHINA, called upon “countries and”agencies to “support” continuous exchange. The US changed “continuous” to “on anongoing basis.”

FULL-COST INTERNALIZATION: The G-77/CHINA proposed “exploringways and means” rather than “examining mechanisms” for full-cost internalization, andCANADA added “for wood products and non-wood substitutes.” NORWAY added coststo examination of potential benefits of improved efficiency and sustainability.

MARKET TRANSPARENCY: The G-77 added forest products “and services”in a subparagraph on expanding the work of relevant institutions. On illegal trade inforest products, the US recommended that an assessment be undertaken by anindependent group of experts convened by an appropriate UN agency rather than by anindependent body and added “incorporating information from all relevant sources andmajor groups.” The EU added that the group should “formulate recommendations on howto counter illegal trade.” The G-77/CHINA proposed that “countries” provide anassessment “and other relevant information.” The subparagraph was deferred pendingconsultations by the G-77/CHINA.

Working Group II’s contact group met in the evening to discuss pending issues onfinance and trade and environment.


Informal negotiations continue on specifying which groups to include in text onparticipation and consultative processes in SFM. While language on subnationalmechanisms and prior informed consent has been agreed, many delegations are unsurehow to refer to indigenous peoples and local communities given differences in nationallegal and constitutional frameworks. NGOs, supported by a few delegations, have beensuggesting language on customary law, indigenous legal systems, cultural heritage andvalues. Representatives of indigenous peoples are concerned that delegations do notexplicitly recognize that most of the world’s forests are inhabited by indigenous peoples,but delegates say this fact alone may not determine to what degree they should beinvolved in NFPs and followup to the IPF.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I will meet in Conference Room 1 tocontinue negotiating conclusions under programme element III (assessment, research,valuation and C&I).

WORKING GROUP II: Working Group II will meet in Conference Room 2 tohear the contact groups’ report on a number of action proposals under finance and tradeand environment. It will discuss how to proceed on conclusions under these elements.

PLENARY: Delegates will meet in Plenary to consider the draft text onprogramme element V, multilateral institutions and instruments.

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