Report of main proceedings for 19 February 1997

4th Session of the CSD Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

Working Group I, a contact group and the Plenary met on the sixth day of IPF-4. Inthe morning, Working Group I completed review of outstanding conclusions andproposals for action on underlying causes, forest research, traditional forest-relatedknowledge and criteria and indicators (C&I). Working Group II cancelled its session toallow the contact group on finance and trade to meet in the morning. Delegatesconducted an exchange of views on the draft text for multilateral institutions andinstruments in an afternoon Plenary. The contact group’s consultations continued into theevening.

CONTACT GROUP

The contact group led by CANADA met in the morning and after the afternoon Plenary.Delegates were planning to complete their review of sections on finance and paragraphsunder trade and environment.

WORKING GROUP I

UNDERLYING CAUSES: In the paragraph listing causes of deforestation underconclusions, IRAN, supported by COLOMBIA, proposed deleting references to oilexploitation. GABON retained this reference with the Co-Chair’s language “oilexploitation in forested countries, not conducted in accordance with appropriate nationallegislation.”

TRADITIONAL FOREST-RELATED KNOWLEDGE: In the reference toprotection of indigenous rights in the conclusion on locating valuable new products (inE/CN.17/IPF/1997/WG.I/L.3), BRAZIL, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, proposedsubstituting “and appropriate payment to indigenous people and relevant localcommunities based on their IPR” for a previous proposal on “payment of royalty onIPR.” NORWAY, supported by AUSTRALIA and CANADA, noted that IPR is not adefined concept and the Panel should instead be consistent with CBD wording on “thefair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of TFRK.” The Co-Chairformulated text that reflects divergent views and inserted CBD language on the sharing ofbenefits, “which many countries consider should incorporate appropriate payment.”

Delegates had a lengthy negotiation on the new action proposal referred from WorkingGroup II on mechanisms for benefit-sharing. CANADA, supported by NORWAY, theUS, NEW ZEALAND and the EU, rejected the G-77/CHINA’s proposal to add language“to ensure mechanisms to provide payments” and “economic” benefits because thislanguage is not consistent nor as broad as CBD language on securing benefit-sharing. TheUS insertion of benefit-sharing “including payments where appropriate” was adopted.

COUNTRIES WITH LOW FOREST COVER: The G-77/CHINA proposed arevised action subparagraph urging developed countries to lead reforestation,afforestation and conservation efforts. Based on a suggestion from the G-77/CHINA, andamended by the US and COSTA RICA, delegates accepted language urging assistancefrom developed countries “notably, as appropriate” those with low forest cover. Asubparagraph on improving efficiency and procedures for cooperation in SFM was agreedwith minor amendments.

FOREST RESEARCH: Delegates accepted the G-77/CHINA proposal for arevised action proposal to examine the need to expand the capacity of existing researchinstitutions and, where appropriate, establish new centers.

CRITERIA AND INDICATORS: The EU, supported by the US, CANADA,NEW ZEALAND and the G-77/CHINA, presented text from informal consultations thatwas then inserted in the action proposal and conclusion on C&I initiatives in similarregions. The agreed language, with the US deletion of “convergence,” emphasizes mutualrecognition among sets of C&I as tools for assessing trends in national forestmanagement and conditions. Text on the collection, assembly, storage and disseminationof data was moved into these paragraphs.

Based on a US proposal, a conclusion suggesting consistency in methods for global forestassessments was retained. Bracketed text referring to divergent views on a core set ofglobal C&I was placed in a separate subparagraph noting that dialogue should continue.

PLENARY

Delegates commented on a Secretariat’s draft based on earlier statements on programmeelement V.

The EU, the US, MALAYSIA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND and COLOMBIAsupported the continuation of the Interagency Task Force on Forests. The EU said itshould be an informal body to ensure its continued success in responding with flexibility.The US emphasized transparency and participation.

The US, COLOMBIA, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND, VENEZUELA,BRAZIL, the PHILIPPINES and CUBA supported an ongoing intergovernmentaldialogue on forests. COLOMBIA, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND and theREPUBLIC OF KOREA specified that it be under the auspices of the CSD. The US,NEW ZEALAND and UGANDA supported an ad hoc open-endedIntergovernmental Forum on Forests. AUSTRALIA called for an ad hoc high-level Forum that should report by 1998 on the possible elements of a legally-bindinginstrument and by 2000 on progress in implementing the IPF’s proposals for action.NEW ZEALAND emphasized that the Forum should integrate regional C&I initiativesfor SFM. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for a high-level forum to address all issuesincluding coordination with other mechanisms and indigenous issues and all types offorests and to review the need for a legal mechanism.

CANADA said it cannot agree to a stand-alone high-level forum that is not linked to aconvention, nor does it support a process linked to the FAO Committee on Forestry.UGANDA highlighted the need to overcome the problem that forestry issues are scatteredacross other instruments and lack a political voice, and with CHINA and COSTA RICA,supported a forum to establish an INC. COSTA RICA noted possible shortcomings suchas insufficient financial and human resources.

The EU, MALAYSIA, CANADA, and PAPUA NEW GUINEA supported theestablishment of an INC to elaborate an international convention on forests. CANADAspecified that the negotiations should be finalized by 2000 and that the main issues for anINC include: creation of a permanent global governance structure that provides foreffective participation of major groups; creation of rights and obligations in achievingSFM; elaboration of modalities for enhanced international cooperation and improvedefficiency and coordination of assistance; and establishment of means for nationalreporting on progress in achieving SFM and for monitoring compliance.

The EU specified that the INC should work within a specific timeframe while continuingimplementation, monitoring and evaluation of ongoing forest-related programmes.PAPUA NEW GUINEA highlighted the need for a complementary continuation of theIPF prototype with a clear objective to level the playing field. If an INC is not possible atthis stage, INDONESIA supported the creation of an ad hoc Forum that wouldestablish an INC by 2000.

MALAYSIA reaffirmed interest in a legal framework in the short term and said it shouldinclude: reference to the Forest Principles and Agenda 21; treatment of issues includingthe comprehensiveness of ITTA commitments, finance and technology transfer; andholistic treatment of forest-related issues such as biodiversity.

NORWAY said there could be advantages to a convention if consensus can be reached,but differing views on the format should not hamper progress on substantive issues.AUSTRALIA said it is yet to be convinced of the need for a global legal instrument.VENEZUELA noted the lack of political will and consensus for regional levelconventions on SFM and said a legally-binding instrument on forests is premature, as didCOLOMBIA and BRAZIL. JAPAN stressed that prior to initiating negotiations on alegally-binding instrument, its objectives and scope must be thoroughly discussed andfull consensus on the need for a convention must be achieved. BRAZIL noted that thePanel’s mandate to develop a consensus on a step-by-step basis has not fully been met onthis issue. The US suggested replacing language calling for a holistic mechanism withlanguage recommending that any future arrangements should continue to promoteinternational forest policy dialogue in a holistic manner, focusing on consensus-buildingand review of progress and taking account of countries’ different capacities to implementSFM.

COLOMBIA, NORWAY, the PHILIPPINES and JAPAN emphasized the importance ofimplementing the IPF’s proposals for action. NORWAY underscored the need tomaintain momentum created by the IPF process by establishing a framework forcontinued international dialogue on forests with clear objectives and timetables and, withCOLOMBIA, to continue building consensus on issues that require further discussion.

BRAZIL recommended that the CSD be given a range of future options including:financial arrangements and mechanisms; a trade agreement; codes of conduct for theprivate sector; and the extension of Objective 2000 to all forests. The PHILIPPINESsuggested that the options presented to the CSD be limited to two or three.

The ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES called for language on: securing the landrights of indigenous and other forest-dependent peoples; enhancing their participation inforest-related activities; and harmonizing forest policies with emerging social instrumentssuch as the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. AUSTRALIAproposed new language recognizing the contribution of regional initiatives to develop andimplement C&I in defining SFM. COLOMBIA and MEXICO underscored theimportance of respecting the principle of differentiated responsibilities. MEXICOhighlighted the need to include the principles of transparency, a gradual approach and aclear legal process.

IN THE CORRIDORS

The second debate on a global convention on forests revealed little shift in delegations’positions from the IPF-4’s first exchange of views. Delegates and observers were leftwondering how the final action proposals will reconcile divergent positions. Somesuggest that the best way out is a relatively extensive list of options that include alldelegations’ proposals. Others suggest that there is still room to strike compromisesbetween strong proponents of a convention and those advocating action not solelyfocused on a convention. While some prefer a more confined range of options, others fearthat such limitations will increase the probability of movement toward a convention.Most concur that whatever options the IPF puts forward, the selection of any one pathrequires higher-level political authority.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: Delegates are expected to continue to debate actions andconclusions on programme element V (multilateral institutions and instruments) inmorning, afternoon, and possibly evening Plenary sessions in Conference Room 1.

WORKING GROUPS: Depending on the results of Plenary and contact groupconsultations, the two Working Groups may meet in the afternoon to review proposals foraction and conclusions from programme elements II (financial assistance and technologytransfer) and IV (trade and environment).

Look for revised text of conclusions and action proposals for programme element III(assessment, research, valuation and C&I).

Further information

Participants

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