Report of main proceedings for 20 February 1997

4th Session of the CSD Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

Working Group II discussed conclusions under programme elements II, Financialassistance and technology transfer, and IV, Trade and environment. Delegates negotiatedprogramme elements V.1, International organizations and multilateral institutions andinstruments, and V.2, Appropriate legal mechanisms, in Plenary.

WORKING GROUP II

Delegates exchanged views on conclusions to form a non-negotiated text reflecting areasof convergence and divergence.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: On a gap inresources, the US proposed language that “existing resources are insufficient to achieveSFM.” The G-77/CHINA preferred retaining Forest Principles language. The US deleteda reference to resource gaps and added text on greater financial investments andimproving absorptive capacities.

On new and additional resources and international public finance, JAPAN proposedreplacing references to “new and additional” with “adequate” resources. CHINA andBRAZIL disagreed. The EU added “external support through ODA and” provision ofnew and additional resources, and with the US, replaced “promote” with “ensure”predictability and continuity of financial resources. The US preferred the replacement of“new and additional” with the language proposed by the EU or JAPAN.

On financing for SFM, ZIMBABWE noted that not all countries have the capacity togenerate revenue from the forest sector. The US deleted the reference to SFM at theglobal level and inserted an exception for countries with low forest cover, but the EUobjected.

On uneven distribution of private investment, the US stipulated that investment “insustainably managed forests” may be encouraged by voluntary codes of conduct anddeleted codes “for SFM.” The PHILIPPINES objected.

On ODA for forest-related activities, IRAN added a reference to ODA’s importance incountries with low forest cover. MALAYSIA added that financial commitments shouldbe aimed at, “where appropriate,” protection of representative forest ecosystems.

On technological innovations, the US stated that “dissemination” is critical. On North-South cooperation, the G-77/CHINA recommended replacing “considerable potential”with “a need for strengthening.” NORWAY emphasized indigenous and traditionaltechnologies. The G-77/CHINA called for use of Agenda 21 language on technologytransfer and the US emphasized “as mutually agreed.”

On developed country responsibilities, ZIMBABWE and the EU reformulated languageto “conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of biological resources.” TheUS deleted “equitable sharing of” technologies “and financial resources.” Onprioritization, many countries noted that “priority in technology transfer and capacity-building” had already been established. The EU added restoration “of natural forestecosystems.”

TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT: On forest products and services, MALAYSIAproposed adding voluntary codes of conduct “for SFM” and noted nomenclature groupagreement on “forest products and other forest goods and services.” Discussion on therelationship between trade and SFM and on a forest products trade agreement wasdeferred. On trade in non-wood products and services, SWITZERLAND deletedlanguage on the WTO and removed bracketed text on the need for trade measures toachieve environmental objectives in special circumstances. On market access, the USdeleted language on trade-related measures’ consistency with the Forest Principles andmultilateral trade laws and added “trade measures may provide an effective andappropriate means of addressing environmental concerns, including long-term SFMobjectives.” The EU added “provided they are consistent with international rules andobligations” to the US proposal, but the US objected. The PHILIPPINES proposedalternative language from the CSD on trade measures. The EU deleted the language ontrade-related measures. Delegates agreed that full-cost internalization “may” contribute toSFM.

PLENARY

Delegates debated amendments to the Secretariat’s draft on programme element V.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND MULTILATERAL INSTITUTIONSAND INSTRUMENTS: The EU amended the action proposal on the Inter-AgencyTask Force on Forests (IATF) with language calling on “appropriate internationalinstitutions and organizations involved to continue their work under the chairmanship ofFAO.” The G-77/CHINA added “focusing on the proposals for action recommended bythe IPF” and that the IATF “further undertake coordination and explore means” forcollaboration and action. The US added “in a transparent and participatory manner.”JAPAN, with CANADA, highlighted a potential role for CIFOR in the IATF tocoordinate scientific research.

AUSTRALIA added that the IATF “should support ongoing intergovernmentaldialogue.” Issues left pending were: “by identifying agencies for each action” (G-77/CHINA); “institutional comparative advantages” (EU and US); and the move to deleteall subparagraphs listing actions.

In the proposal that calls for action by countries, delegates inserted amendments: tosupport regional organizations’ work (US); “to support activities related to theconservation, management and sustainable development of all types of forests” (G-77/CHINA); and on accelerating UNCED follow-up and the implementation of IPFaction proposals (EU and JAPAN). The US proposal “to eliminate waste and duplication,using available resources” efficiently was adopted.

After debating application of the final action proposal to countries or to internationalorganizations, “international institutions in cooperation with countries” was agreed. Otherlanguage was agreed on, inter alia: support and implementation of IPF actionproposals (AUSTRALIA); “voluntary” use of the diagnostic tool for underlying causes(G-77/CHINA); support for scientific research and new research centers (G-77/CHINA);and the needs of low forest cover countries (IRAN) and small island states (PAPUANEW GUINEA). A G-77/CHINA proposal for an international fund for SFM wasopposed by the EU, the US and JAPAN.

APPROPRIATE LEGAL ARRANGEMENTS AND MECHANISMS:Delegates discussed several conclusions describing the degree to which existinglegal mechanisms and instruments address forests. The G-77/CHINA added strengtheningcoordination among international agencies and institutions to provide an holistic andbalanced approach. Delegates agreed on EU language that no single multilateralinstrument, body or organization has a mandate or capacity to address all forest-relatedissues. BRAZIL highlighted all types of forests.

On other international legally-binding instruments, the G-77/CHINA suggested changing“many” to “some” binding instruments and substituting “sustainability” for “sustainabledevelopment,” noting that “existing instruments do not comprehensively cover all issuesrelated to forestry.” AUSTRALIA substituted “forests” for “forestry.”

The US proposed an additional conclusion noting several regional and internationalinitiatives to promote national implementation of SFM. Delegates agreed to text onholistically addressing forests at regional and national levels and noting several “regionaland international initiatives and regional mechanisms.”

On the conclusion noting there is no global forest instrument, the EU advocated replacing“mechanisms and arrangements” with “instrument” and inserting a list of issues. The G-77/CHINA and the US disagreed.

In the action proposal on continuing the forest policy dialogue, MEXICO and the G-77/CHINA tabled similar language regarding the “balanced treatment of all types offorests” and the “principle of common but differentiated responsibilities” rather than “onthe basis of shared and common responsibilities.” NORWAY deleted the reference to“high-level” and AUSTRALIA inserted “which could include a high-level component.”The G-77/CHINA, BRAZIL, VENEZUELA, COLOMBIA and the US objected to theEU proposal to move the paragraph to conclusions and to insert a new paragraph oncontinuing CSD and FAO fora and on an international legal instrument to address,inter alia: ecological issues; NFPs; C&I, inventory and valuation; TFRK; research;trade and environment; funding; technology transfer; and capacity-building. The G-77/CHINA, supported by INDIA and BRAZIL, inserted Rio language on Statesovereignty and inalienable rights. COLOMBIA stressed transparency and participation.CANADA reiterated support for launching an INC and negotiations for an internationalforest convention. The G-77/CHINA, MEXICO, INDIA and CANADA rejected the USproposal to replace “all” with “international” forest-related issues. The Plenary agreed tonegotiate a consensus only after the remaining text was reviewed.

Delegates debated the functions of a continuing forest policy dialogue. On identifyinginternational priorities, PERU proposed including “national plans and programmes.”ECUADOR included “other forest-related instruments and initiatives including thosepertaining to indigenous and other forest-dependent peoples.” CHINA added priorities ontechnology transfer, trade and capacity-building. On monitoring progress inimplementing IPF recommendations, the US added the need to review and report onprogress and recommend further actions.

The US added “involvement” to dialogue and partnership with major groups. NORWAYinserted “forest owners,” CHINA added “local communities and women” and CANADAincluded “forest-dependent people.” PERU changed indigenous “peoples” to “people.”

On a mechanism for considering a legally-binding instrument, the US said a suchmechanism is premature. NORWAY recommended “preparing a basis for a decision onnegotiation." TURKEY said the need for an instrument should be kept under review untilfurther consensus is reached. AUSTRALIA proposed “considering the need for andpossible elements of a legally-binding instrument.” VENEZUELA, supported byBRAZIL, proposed a forum to consider the need for appropriate arrangements withscope, objectives and resources, including financial and technological obligationsof developed and developing countries. COLOMBIA, BRAZIL and MALAYSIAspecified an instrument “on all types of forests.” MALAYSIA, supported by BRAZIL,referred to a possible agreement on forest products trade. BRAZIL added “and otherpossible arrangements” and proposed possibly extending the ITTA’s Objective 2000 toall types of forests. The US took up a proposal by GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL to“provide a mechanism to undertake further studies into the role of existing instrumentsand institutions in relation to SFM.”

NORWAY called for measures to accelerate implementation in areas of IPF consensus.PERU, supported by BRAZIL, recommended new language on establishing a fundingmechanism to support developing countries’ efforts. BRAZIL added development ofvoluntary private sector codes of conduct on SFM. CANADA proposed reviewing themembership and functioning of the Task Force.

In the action proposal on goals and dates for a dialogue, the EU called for practical goalsand concrete dates. CHINA recommended practical goals and time frame. NORWAYsubstituted “international” for “high-level.” The US said the dialogue should report to theCSD at an appropriate time. COLOMBIA suggested deletion of the paragraph.

Regarding the means to carry out agreed functions, NORWAY said an ad hocopen-ended intersessional working group on forests should report to the CSD by1998. CHINA proposed an intergovernmental forum under the CSD, which wouldrecommend that the UN General Assembly start negotiations on a legally- bindinginstrument when conditions are ready. The EU and CANADA supported establishing anINC, the EU with a “focused and time-limited mandate,” and CANADA for a conventionfinalized and opened for signature by 2000.

AUSTRALIA called for an ad hoc high-level intergovernmental forum under CSDsupported by the IATF and required to report by 1998 regarding a legally-bindinginstrument and by 2000 on other work. INDIA proposed a “forum to achieve consensus,”considering poverty eradication and food security. MALAYSIA suggested anintergovernmental forum under the CSD to recommend convening an INC on a legally-binding instrument or, as an alternative, simply establishing an INC.

The US backed an open-ended intergovernmental forum reporting in accordance with aCSD-adopted work programme. PERU said an open-ended forum should not necessarilyreport by 2000. VENEZUELA said a forum should build consensus regarding a legalinstrument but a convention is premature.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: Look for the Secretariat’s synthesis text on proposals forprogramme element V. Delegates are expected conclude negotiations on outstandingitems, particularly on Multilateral institutions and instruments, Financial assistance, andTrade and environment in morning and afternoon sessions in Conference Room 1.

Further information

Participants

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