Read in: French

Summary report, 11–21 February 1997

4th Session of the CSD Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

The fourth and final session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development’s(CSD) Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF-4) met in New York from 11 - 21February 1997 to IPF-4 negotiate action proposals and conclusions under 12 programmeelements dealing with the management, conservation and sustainable development of alltypes of forests: I.1. National forest and land-use plans; I.2. Underlying causes ofdeforestation; I.3. Traditional forest-related knowledge; I.4. Ecosystems affected bydesertification and pollution; I.5. Needs of countries with low forest cover; II. Financialassistance and technology transfer; III.1(a). Forest assessment; III.1(b). Valuation offorest benefits; III.2. Criteria and indicators; IV. Trade and the environment; V.1.International organizations and multilateral institutions; and V.2. Legal mechanisms.

The IPF was also supposed to formulate recommendations to the CSD on future legalmechanisms, international organizations and multilateral institutions. Delegates called forcontinued intergovernmental forest policy dialogue but could not agree on major issuessuch as financial assistance and trade-related matters, or whether to begin negotiations ona global forest convention. On these and other elements, the IPF forwarded a range ofoptions to the CSD. Recommendations on specific characteristics and functions of acontinued intergovernmental forum or negotiating process were attached as a non-negotiated annex to the IPF’s report.


The Commission on Sustainable Development’s open-ended ad hocIntergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) was established to pursue consensus andcoordinated proposals for action to support the management, conservation and sustainabledevelopment of all types of forests. The Economic and Social Council, in its decision1995/226, endorsed the recommendation of the third session of the Commission onSustainable Development to establish the IPF. In pursuing its mandate, the IPF focusedon 12 programme elements clustered into five interrelated categories. Its objective was tosubmit final conclusions and policy recommendations to the CSD at its fifth session inApril 1997.

IPF-1: The first session of the IPF took place in New York from 11-15September 1995. At this meeting, delegates adopted the IPF programme of work andattempted to set the dates and venues of future meetings. Several issues that havetypically divided North and South again proved difficult. Members of the G-77/Chinawere resistant to any proposal that could foreseeably lead to a loss of national controlover forests and forest products. There was also concern about the subject of criteria andindicators and whether proposed intersessional workshops should constitute an officialpart of the IPF process. Developed countries questioned the need to extend the durationof Panel meetings and expressed serious concerns about the Panel’s work.

IPF-2: The IPF held its second session from 11-22 March 1996 in Geneva.Delegates conducted their first substantive discussions on six programme elements andcompleted initial consideration of the remaining six. During the final two days of themeeting, delegates considered the Co-Chairs’ summaries. They labeled these transitionalin nature to signify that the summaries did not represent negotiated text. Delegates agreedto begin negotiations at IPF-3 on items that had received substantive consideration at thesecond session, although another substantive discussion was scheduled on the programmeelement on financial assistance and technology transfer. Delegates left Geneva satisfiedthat they had expressed national positions on a range of forest issues, but some werefrustrated that their full positions were not adequately reflected in the report of IPF-2.

IPF-3: The IPF held its third session from 9-20 September 1996 in Geneva.Delegates undertook substantive discussions on all of the programme elements except forV.2 (legal mechanisms), where discussion only just got underway. The objective of IPF-3was to produce a document containing elements to be considered for inclusion in thePanel’s final report to the CSD. Delegates did not engage in negotiations or drafting ofthe elements at IPF-3, but made comments and proposed amendments to be negotiated atIPF-4. Some delegates regarded IPF-3 as a success in that it provided an opportunity for ameaningful exchange of views on the issues. Others expressed disappointment at thePanel’s inability to reach the negotiating stage on any of the programme elements.


IPF-4 opened on Tuesday, 11 February 1997, with statements from Co-Chairs Sir MartinHoldgate (UK) and Manuel Rodriguez (Colombia). Co-Chair Holdgate emphasized thetime constraints the Panel faced in completing its work. Co-Chair Rodriguez urgedconcrete recommendations to address the problems facing the world’s forests. He calledfor progress in international cooperation and trade and urged delegates to fulfill the Riocommitments on technology transfer and the provision of new and additional resources.

Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment, highlighted the Panel’s progress on national forest programmes (NFPs),criteria and indicators (C&I), assessment, certification and eco-labelling, and institutionalarrangements.

Co-Chair Holdgate introduced the document on Adoption of the agenda and otherorganizational matters (E/CN.17/IPF/ 1997/1), noting that the report of IPF-4 wassupposed to be an agreed and negotiated text. The US, INDIA and PAPUA NEWGUINEA endorsed the Co-Chairs’ proposal to use Elements of a draft report(E/CN.17/IPF/1997/3) as the basis for negotiation. The Plenary then adopted the agendaand programme of work.

Two speakers reported on the Intersessional Meeting of Indigenous and Other Forest-Dependent Peoples on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development ofAll Types of Forests, held in Leticia, Colombia, from 9-13 December 1996. COLOMBIAstated that the workshop focused on promotion of participation and legal frameworks forprotection of indigenous lands and knowledge. The INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OFINDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE TROPICAL FORESTS (ALLIANCE OFINDIGENOUS PEOPLES) outlined proposals from the workshop on transparent andindigenous-designed mechanisms for financial assistance and technology transfer and apermanent UN forum for indigenous peoples.

JAPAN reported on the International Workshop on the Integrated Application ofSustainable Forest Management Practices held in Kochi, Japan, from 22-25 November1996. The workshop focused on translating an international understanding of sustainableforest management (SFM) into practice and enriching the IPF process with field-levelknowledge. The workshop report calls for a new multidisciplinary, stakeholder-drivenand fully implementable culture for land-use planning, forest research and extension.

UGANDA reported on the Intergovernmental Workshop of Experts on SustainableForestry and Land Use: The Process of Consensus-Building, held in Stockholm from 14-18 October 1996. The workshop focused on consensus-building during the preparation ofnational forest and land-use plans and called for: a common vision and working definitionof consensus; harmonization of sectoral with larger interests; training in consensus-building; secure property rights; proper forest valuation; and decision-making.

The EU, also on behalf of BULGARIA, CYPRUS, ESTONIA, HUNGARY,LITHUANIA, POLAND, ROMANIA, SLOVENIA and SLOVAKIA, stressed the needfor a holistic approach that includes economic and development issues not adequatelyaddressed by other conventions. A global forest convention would provide theappropriate framework and would ensure the implementation of the Forest Principles. Hehoped for a unanimous recommendation to establish an Intergovernmental NegotiatingCommittee (INC) for a global forest convention.

The G-77/CHINA emphasized the need for new, innovative and additional financial andtechnical assistance as part of a comprehensive approach to forests. Anti-povertyprogrammes that ensure benefits to local communities and forest-dwellers are essential.Environmentally-sound technology should be made available on affordable terms andwithout intellectual property rights (IPR) restrictions. Interim arrangements should beconsidered for the implementation of IPF-recommended programmes during a long-termdialogue.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said forest partnership agreements (FPAs) and forestplantations hold promise for addressing natural forest depletion and called for mutuallysupportive trade and environment policies. ARGENTINA reported on the results of thethird Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).He noted the COP’s decision (contained in E/CN.17/IPF/1997/8) to develop a focusedwork programme on forest biodiversity to complement work by the IPF and other fora,and the work programme’s focus on research cooperation and techniques for theconservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity. The CENTRE FORINTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH (CIFOR) proposed that the IPF improveforest research by establishing: a clearinghouse to guide research; research networks andconsortia; mechanisms to assist capacity-building; and a mechanism to mobilizeresources.

The CANADIAN PULP AND PAPER ASSOCIATION advocated the initiation ofnegotiations on a legally-binding forest convention, which could, inter alia:develop a common definition of SFM; encourage forest conservation; enhancecoordination of international institutions; and encourage trade in forest products tofacilitate development. SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL expressed concern thatgovernments’ commitment to allow and encourage participation of major groups hasbegun to evaporate and may continue to erode. GREEN EARTH noted that discussionsabout a forest convention are premature and could formalize lowest-common-denominator forest management standards. IUCN called for a systematic effort toformulate enabling policies based on forest management experiences of indigenous andlocal communities, and for the integration of these efforts into any proposed institutionalfollow-up to the IPF.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 11-12 February, the Panel met in Plenary to give generalstatements and exchange views on programme elements V.1. International organizationsand multilateral institutions; and V.2. Legal mechanisms. Two working groups wereformed on Thursday, 13 February to negotiate sections of the draft report. WorkingGroup I, chaired by Sir Martin Holdgate focused on programme elements I.Implementation of UNCED forest-related decisions and III. Scientific research, forestassessment, and criteria and indicators. Working Group II, chaired by Manuel Rodriguezfocused on programme elements II. Financial assistance and technology transfer and IV.Trade and environment. Contact groups chaired by Canada and Australia discussedprimarily finance and trade issues and nomenclature, respectively, throughout IPF-4. ThePlenary reconvened on Wednesday, 19 February, to exchange views and then negotiatedraft texts on programme element V. The final text is divided into 12 programmeelements and each section contains conclusions and proposals for action.


Working Group I negotiated all conclusions and proposals for action on implementationof forest-related decisions of UNCED at the national and international levels, includingexamination of sectoral and cross-sectoral linkages during the first week of IPF-4 andconcluded a few remaining issues in the final Plenary on Friday, 21 February. Topicsconsidered under this programme element include: progress through national forest andland-use programmes; underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation;traditional forest-related knowledge; fragile ecosystems affected by desertification anddrought and the impact of air-borne pollution on forests; and the needs and requirementsof developing and other countries with low forest cover. Key issues of debate included:wording related to national forest programmes, sustainable forest management andinterested parties to involve; the role of plantations and national goals or requirements forforest cover; and whether to be consistent with the CBD in language on benefit sharing orinclude new language specifying payments to holders of traditional forest-relatedknowledge.

PROGRESS THROUGH NATIONAL FOREST AND LAND-USEPROGRAMMES: Delegates and two contact groups conducted negotiations onaction proposals on national forest programmes (NFPs) on Thursday, 13 February, andrelated conclusions on Friday, 14 February. The Panel recognized NFPs as importantpolicy frameworks for the achievement of SFM and emphasized the need for appropriateparticipatory mechanisms to involve all interested parties and for decentralization and,where applicable, the empowerment of regional and local government structures. ThePanel also recognized the need for NFPs to be based on sound economic valuation offorest resources, be iterative, respectful of national sovereignty and allow for consistencybetween national policies and international commitments.

All action proposals on ODA and donor assistance were referred to Working Group IIdiscussions on financial assistance. Delegates adopted language proposed by a contactgroup chaired by Canada on the key elements and the definition of NFPs byincorporating, inter alia: US language on the wide range of approaches to SFM;consistency with sub-national policies; partnership mechanisms; secure land tenurearrangements for indigenous people and local communities; valuation; and ecosystemapproaches that include biodiversity. JAPAN stressed the importance of includingevaluation in all text referring to the implementation and monitoring of NFPs.

Another contact group chaired by Australia considered: inconsistencies and differences indescribing groups to be included in language on participation; the use of “countries”instead of “governments;” and US proposals to replace “NFPs” with “national forestprogrammes,” to delete all references to “other appropriate or relevant policyframeworks,” and to employ “sustainable forest management (SFM)” instead of “themanagement, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.” PERU,VENEZUELA and CANADA stated that the meaning of SFM is not yet clear. TheALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, with the support of the EU, NORWAY andCOLOMBIA, suggested replacing “indigenous people, communities, or populations”with “indigenous peoples” and proposed adding “other forest-dependent peoples.”BRAZIL and the G-77/CHINA replaced “indigenous peoples” with “indigenous people.”The EU suggested adding references to “small forest owners” and “forest workers” whilethe US advocated the use of “forest dwellers” and “forest-related indigenous people” andthe deletion of “forest workers.”

Working Group I adopted contact group decisions to use: “countries” instead of“governments;” “sustainable forest management” and “national forest programmes”rather than their acronyms; “indigenous people and forest-dependent communities,”adding “forest owners and forest dwellers” where appropriate; “sustainable forestmanagement” or “the management, conservation and sustainable development of all typesof forests,” depending on the context, the former referring to national-level action and thelatter to international action.

Proposals for action in this section: encourage countries to implement, monitor andevaluate NFPs; call for improved cooperation in support of SFM around the world usingNFPs as a basis for international cooperation; encourage countries to integrate suitablecriteria and indicators (C&I) for SFM into NFPs; stress the need for adequate provisionof ODA and, as possible, new and additional funding from the GEF and other appropriateinnovative sources; urge countries to develop, test and implement participatorymechanisms and multidisciplinary research at all stages of the NFP planning cycle;encourage countries to elaborate planning systems including private and communityforest management; encourage countries to establish national coordination mechanismsamong all interested parties based on consensus-building principles; urged countries toinclude capacity-building as an objective of NFPs; and encourage countries to developthe concept and practice of partnership including forest partnership agreements (FPAs) inthe implementation of NFPs.

UNDERLYING CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION AND FORESTDEGRADATION: Delegates negotiated action proposals on underlying causes ofdeforestation on Thursday, 13 February, and conclusions on Friday, 14 February,Thursday, 19 February, and in the closing Plenary. Delegates debated the action proposalon the need for case studies. Some objected to the US and EU proposal to delete theaction proposal and agreed to AUSTRALIA’s amendments for countries to prepare, asappropriate, in-depth studies and to use a diagnostic framework.

After debate on the role of forest plantations in SFM, delegates adopted NEWZEALAND’s language on plantations as an element of SFM and as a complement tonatural forests, replacing text presenting plantations as a tool for taking pressure offnatural forests. The US questioned why national strategies to address underlying causesshould include defining policy goals for national forest cover, but the action proposalurging countries to do so was retained. Language supporting the CBD’s work onunderlying causes of biodiversity loss was added by SWEDEN, CANADA andNORWAY, following a suggestion by GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL. In theconclusion that lists causes of deforestation, IRAN, supported by COLOMBIA, proposeddeleting “oil exploitation” while GABON retained this reference with the Co-Chair’sformulation: “oil exploitation in forested countries, not conducted in accordance withappropriate national legislation.”

The final document contains action proposals on: in-depth studies of the underlyingcauses of deforestation and forest degradation at the national and international levels anda global workshop on international causes; comprehensive analysis of the historicalperspective of the cases of deforestation in the world; use of a diagnostic framework inorder to identify underlying causes of deforestation, to develop and test the usefulness ofthe framework as an analytical tool in assessing options for forest utilization and to apply,refine and disseminate results; information collection on transboundary pollution;assessment and sustainability of wood supply and demand; the role of forest plantations;national strategies to address underlying causes of deforestation and, if appropriate, todefine policy goals for national forest cover; mechanisms to improve policy formulationand coordination; policies for securing land tenure and participation; the need for timelyand accurate information; integrated policy approaches; UNDP and donor assistance; andsupport for the CBD work programme for forest biological diversity.

TRADITIONAL FOREST-RELATED KNOWLEDGE: Working Group Iconducted initial negotiations on traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK) on Friday,14 February. There was considerable debate on how to refer to the holders of TFRK andwhom to specify in participation mechanisms and benefit- sharing in the use of TFRK.The US recommended replacing “indigenous people, forest dwellers, forest owners andlocal communities” with “indigenous and local communities embodying traditionallifestyles” in actions on: identification of TFRK; participation; enhancement of capacity;and digital and social mapping. The EU urged retaining the reference to forest owners. Anomenclature contact subgroup initially proposed “forest-related indigenous people andother forest-dependent people embodying traditional lifestyles.” The ALLIANCE OFINDIGENOUS PEOPLES disagreed with classifying and categorizing “IndigenousPeoples.” After continued informal discussions, delegates agreed to say “indigenouspeople and other forest-dependent people who possess traditional forest-relatedknowledge.”

On ways to inventory TFRK, COLOMBIA, GABON and DENMARK proposedlanguage formulated by the ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES on free and priorinformed consent of TFRK holders, that TFRK holders participate in identification ofTFRK benefit-sharing, but UGANDA, the US and VENEZUELA objected. A contactgroup was formed to resolve this issue and language from VENEZUELA, the US and theG-77/CHINA qualifies final action proposals on the participation of TFRK holders andbenefit-sharing with references to the context of each country’s national legal system. Onaction proposals to rehabilitate TFRK, delegates incorporated language proposed by theALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES on the cultural survival of indigenous people.The G-77/CHINA added language calling on countries to promote practical approaches tocredit, recognize and reward TFRK holders in an action proposal for technical guidelineson TFRK application.

CANADA added an action proposal to consider decisions made in the third COP of theCBD, particularly on Article 8(j). A contact group added reference to the importance ofcollaboration between relevant international bodies, especially the CBD, and TFRKholders in an action proposal on forest biodiversity.

At BRAZIL’s suggestion, delegates requested a compilation of legislation on TFRK andbenefit-sharing from the UN Secretary-General, in collaboration with the CBDSecretariat. CANADA added an action proposal inviting the World Intellectual PropertyOrganization (WIPO), together with UNCTAD, to advance international understanding ofthe relationship between IPR and TFRK. CANADA and the G-77/CHINA addedlanguage on means of combating illegal international trafficking in forest biologicalresources.

On policy and legal frameworks, the US added “and/or other protection regimes” afterIPR while the EU changed “international and national” to “appropriate” levels.SWITZERLAND added an action proposal encouraging studies of national IPR andTFRK regimes.

On the conclusion on locating valuable new products, COLOMBIA inserted “prior”before informed consent. The EU, US and NORWAY objected to G-77/CHINA languageon “payment of royalty on IPR” and NORWAY, supported by AUSTRALIA andCANADA, noted that IPR is not a defined concept and the Panel should instead beconsistent with CBD language on “the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising fromthe use of TFRK.” The G-77/CHINA’s alternative proposal to substitute “and appropriatepayment to indigenous people and relevant local communities based on their IPR” wasalso rejected. Delegates adopted the Co-Chair’s formulation that reflects divergent viewsand uses CBD language on benefit-sharing, “which many countries consider shouldincorporate appropriate payment.”

Delegates had a similar debate on a new proposal for action to develop mechanisms forbenefit-sharing that was referred from Working Group II based on the understanding thatit would be better incorporated in Working Group I’s work on IPR and TFRK. The debateagain focused on remaining consistent with the CBD and whether to specify economiccompensation or payment in benefit-sharing with TFRK holders. CANADA, supportedby NORWAY, the US, NEW ZEALAND and the EU, rejected the G-77/CHINA’sproposal to add language “to ensure mechanisms to provide payments” and “economic”benefits because this language is not consistent nor as broad as CBD language onsecuring benefit-sharing. The US insertion of benefit-sharing “including payments whereappropriate” was adopted.

The final document contains action proposals on: incorporation of CBD COP decisions;international understanding, identification and maintenance of TFRK; frameworks tosupport IPR application; measures to rehabilitate and protect TFRK; participation andenhancement of the capacity of TFRK holders to participate; the bringing together ofpractical experience with benefit-sharing; recognition of traditional resource use systems;linkages between traditional and national SFM systems; ways to inventory, retrieve andprotect TFRK; TFRK research; incorporation of TFRK in forest management training;networks for promoting TFRK sharing on mutually agreed terms; digital and socialmapping; a WIPO study and country pilot studies on the relationship between IPR andTFRK; a compilation of international instruments and national legislation on TFRK; andmechanisms to ensure fair and equitable benefit-sharing.

FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS AFFECTED BY DESERTIFICATION ANDDROUGHT: Delegates negotiated conclusions and action proposals on fragileecosystems affected by desertification and drought on Friday, 14 February. On nationaland international action, the US added reference to dryland programmes and JAPANadded reference to an integrated SFM approach. ECUADOR extended action urging theestablishment of protected areas to all areas affected by drought. TURKEY addedreference to extension systems to text urging support for education, training and research.In a paragraph on strengthening partnerships, SWITZERLAND substituted “sustainablemanagement and regeneration of natural vegetation” for action on desertification anddrought. To an action proposal inviting the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD)to research dryland trees, the G-77/CHINA added water management and delegatessubstituted plants for trees.

The final document calls for: national and international action to address complex drylandforest issues; analysis of past experiences; monitoring of trends in forests affected bydesertification and drought; establishment of protected areas; support for education,training and participatory research; and invitation of the CCD to support research on aridplants, non-timber forest products and rehabilitation.

IMPACT OF AIR-BORNE POLLUTION ON FORESTS: Working Group Iagreed to proposals for action and conclusions on the impact of air pollution on forests onFriday, 14 February. On adopting a preventative approach, the G-77/CHINA addedlanguage on strengthening international cooperation. “Binding agreements” was deletedand “as appropriate” added in an action proposal urging countries to consider enteringinto international agreements. The final document calls for: adoption of a preventativeapproach; cooperation for building scientific knowledge; regional programmes to monitorair pollution impacts; C&I for air-borne pollutants; and consideration of entry intointernational agreements.

NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS OF DEVELOPING AND OTHER COUNTRIESWITH LOW FOREST COVER: Delegates agreed to action proposals andconclusions on the needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover on Friday,14 February. On an action proposal calling on FAO to develop precise definitions of lowforest cover, the US added language to also ensure the development of “workabledefinitions” of low forest cover. On an action proposal for developing countries andcountries with economies in transition to embark in national capacity-building, delegatesbroadened language to include capacity-building at subnational and local levels.Delegates rejected a US move to delete a reference to requirements for national forestestates in an action proposal calling for low forest cover countries to seek long-termsecurity of forest goods and services. On forest plantations, the EU added text on nativespecies and avoiding the replacement of natural ecosystems. The G-77/CHINA added anaction proposal calling on developing countries to lead reforestation and conservationefforts by involving interested parties. After delegates debated action on “greening theworld,” they adopted US language on expanding forest cover.

The final document calls for: the FAO to develop a workable and precise definition oflow forest cover; NFPs and requirements for a permanent forest estate; forest plantations;regeneration of degraded forests; consideration of social, economic, environmental andcost and benefit issues; protected area networks; capacity-building at multiple levels; anddevelopment of research and information systems.


Negotiations on proposals for action on financial assistance and technology transferbegan in Working Group II on Thursday, 13 February and continued on Friday, 14February. After a first exchange of views, the debate continued in contact group meetingsover the weekend and throughout the following week. Final agreement on text wasreached on Thursday, 20 February on most proposals for action, with the last fewresolved in the final Plenary session. An exchange of views on conclusions took place inWorking Group II on Wednesday, 19 February. Since there was insufficient time for fullnegotiation on conclusions, the Chair explained that comments would be incorporatedinto a non-negotiated text reflecting delegations’ views.

Topics considered under this programme element include: strengthening financialassistance; enhancing private sector investment; enhancing national capacity andcoordination; enhancing international cooperation; technology transfer and capacity-building; and information systems.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: The question of whether to use language from theForest Principles surfaced several times. The G-77/CHINA called for a chapeau to thesection that would recall the Forest Principles. As a result, the agreed final version of thissection begins with an action proposal for new and additional financial resources to beprovided to enable management, conservation and development of developing countryforest resources, and refers to the Rio Declaration and relevant chapters of Agenda 21.

GABON’s proposal for new language calling on developed countries to find solutions todeveloping country debt led to a new action proposal that notes progress in debt relief andurges the international community to continue to implement measures aimed at durablesolutions to debt and debt-servicing problems of developing countries.

BRAZIL’s proposal to recommend the establishment of an international fund wasdeferred to the final Plenary. Delegate opposition focused on a lack of consensus on theneed for a fund (US); the late timing of the proposal, which would make deferral in thecontext of convention negotiations more appropriate (CANADA); and the need forfurther study before its consideration (the EU). The agreed action proposal lists threeoptions: reflecting countries’ differing positions: to invite international discussion; tourge the establishment of the fund; or to pursue other actions to enhance funding.

Proposals for action in this section: call for new and additional financial resources; urgerecipient countries to prioritize forest activities and donors to increase ODA to forests;request the international community to work with developing countries to identify needsfor SFM and required and available resources; call for support for improved forestprogrammes and for related activities in international institutions including concessionallending; invite exploration of innovative ways to use existing financial mechanisms andgenerate new and additional forest-specific public and private financial resources;recognize the importance of increasing resources available and the continuation ofvarious measures aimed at solutions to debt problems; and note discussion of an actionproposal for an international fund to support forest activities in developing countries.

PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT: During the debate, the US deletedreferences to full-cost pricing and to tax breaks as incentives for overseas investment.Language was changed to focus on the lead role of the private sector in formulatingvoluntary codes of conduct. A new action proposal on reinvestment of revenues wasmodified by the US to “invest financial resources” generated from forest activities inSFM. Language limiting countries’ actions “within their respective legal frameworks”was added to action proposals on investment, reinvestment and voluntary codes ofconduct.

The final document urges countries to encourage: private sector efforts to “formulate, inconsultation with interested parties, and implement voluntary codes of conduct” towardsSFM; investment in SFM of private sector financial resources generated from forestactivities; and reinvestment of revenues from forest goods and services into their sourceforests. It invites developing countries to promote policies and regulations for attractinginvestment for SFM and urges developed-country incentives to encourage private sectoroverseas investment in SFM.

ENHANCING NATIONAL CAPACITY AND NATIONALCOORDINATION: US objections to nomenclature on NFPs resulted in contactgroup consultations and inclusion of US amendments specifying that “recipient”countries should establish NFPs based on priority needs and that donors should “support”rather than “finance” national initiatives aimed at creating “national forest programmesand policy frameworks” in developing countries.

The G-77/CHINA proposed a sub-paragraph on donor support for capacity-buildingwithin the context of the Forest Principles, which was debated but not agreed.

The final document’s proposals for action call for: recipient countries to establishcountry-driven NFPs and donor support for them; development and employment ofmarket-based and other economic instruments; enhancement of community financing andlocal investments; and recipient country identification of national authorities for in-country coordination.

ENHANCING INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: A draft action proposalon provision of information was deleted while one on coordination among UNorganizations was moved to programme element V. Delegates did not accept a proposalby GABON on the adequacy of resources mobilized in an action proposal on adequacy offorest programmes.

The final document proposes actions for: enhanced coordination among donors andinternational instruments; exploration of indicators for monitoring and evaluating theadequacy and effectiveness of forest programmes and projects supported by internationalcooperation; and exploration of the feasibility of innovative financial initiatives tosupport NFPs.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND CAPACITY-BUILDING: The G-77/CHINA added a new action proposal on promoting, facilitating and financing accessto and transfer of environmentally sound technologies within the context of Agenda 21and the Forest Principles. A proposal by the US to recognize countries’ ongoing effortsby urging them “to continue” these activities was withdrawn. The G-77/CHINA calledfor assessment of national technological “capabilities.” Based on a suggestion by theALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, the EU added a new action proposal onsupporting indigenous people and other forest-related communities by funding SFMprojects, capacity-building and information dissemination and by supporting their directparticipation in forest policy dialogue and planning. The G-77/CHINA added a newaction proposal on inventories of most appropriate technologies and most effectivemethods of technology transfer.

The final document contains action proposals on: promotion of technology transfer inaccordance with language from the Forest Principles and Agenda 21; assessment andidentification of national technological requirements and capabilities consistent with NFPpriorities; strengthened North-South, South-South, and North-South-South cooperation inforest-related technology transfer; policies and incentives that encourage developmentand use of environmentally sound technologies; greater emphasis on capacity-building inNFPs, international cooperation programmes and dissemination and adaptation oftechnologies; support for indigenous people, local communities, other inhabitants offorests, small-scale forest owners and forest-dependent communities; and inventories ofappropriate forest-related technologies and methods for their transfer to developingcountries.

IMPROVING INFORMATION SYSTEMS: The EU objected to “new andadditional financial resources” in the list of activities supported by improved informationsystems, but the language was retained. A new action proposal invited a list ofinternational agencies and organizations to facilitate the provision of information, towhich the EU added the CBD Secretariat.

The final document: calls for international action to develop improved informationsystems that support a range of activities; urges establishment of mechanisms forinterpretation and dissemination of information, including through electronic means; andinvites international organizations to facilitate the provision of a better information flowincluding through the establishment of specialized databases.


Working Group I negotiated text on assessment, research, valuation and criteria andindicators (C&I) on Tuesday, 18 February, continuing consideration of C&I onWednesday, 19 February. Delegates agreed to these sections with relatively little debatein the Working Group. The final Plenary adopted both conclusions and proposals foraction without discussion.

ASSESSMENT OF THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF ALL TYPES OF FORESTS:The final document encourages countries to integrate national C&I into assessments,including qualitative indicators where appropriate, and to improve forest resourceassessment and analysis capacity. It requests the FAO to: prepare an implementation planfor FRA (Forest Resource Assessment) 2000; implement FRA 2000 in collaboration withinternational organizations, countries and others; and define key assessment terms.Countries are urged to begin a consultation process with all interested parties at national,subnational and local levels to identify the full range of societal benefits from forests,considering the ecosystem approach.

FOREST RESEARCH: The final document requests the CIFOR, incollaboration with relevant organizations and an experts group, to develop possiblemechanisms to: guide identification of global and eco-regional interdisciplinary researchproblems; promote consortia or networks to lead and organize research and ensureavailability of results; build global research capacity; and mobilize resources. Thedocument: calls on the CBD, the Framework Convention on Climate Change and CCD topromote research and analysis; urges the UN system, international financial institutionsand countries to examine the need to expand existing research capacity and, whereappropriate, to establish new research, development and extension centres; andencourages countries and regional and international research organizations to extend andprioritize on-site research and application of its results.

VALUATION METHODOLOGIES: In Working Group I’s debate of thissection, delegates accepted a US proposal to delete language encouraging mechanisms todeal with the distribution of economic rent as a means of improving SFM.

The final document encourages countries to use available methodologies to provideimproved valuation of all forest goods and services and allow more informed decision-making on alternative forest programmes and land-use plans. It notes that presentmethodologies do not address the wide range of forests’ benefits, and that economicvaluation cannot substitute for the political decision process, which includesenvironmental, socioeconomic, ethical, cultural and religious concerns. The decisionrequests international organizations to prepare a comprehensive document on availablemethodologies and required data sets, especially to evaluate goods and services not tradedin the marketplace. It invites the promotion of research to further develop methodologies,particularly related to deforestation and forest degradation, erosion and C&I.

CRITERIA AND INDICATORS: Delegates debated the proper relationshipbetween C&I at national and other levels in several action proposals. They alsoconsidered the appropriateness of seeking common C&I to use on the global level. Alengthy discussion of a bracketed action proposal on “global reference criteria” as a“common denominator” drew calls for deletion from the G-77/CHINA, the US, NEWZEALAND, BRAZIL and COLOMBIA. CANADA, AUSTRALIA and the EU wanted toretain or amend the text. The final document recommends that the FAO and participantsin regional and international initiatives draw on commonalities between C&I developedby the initiatives, and that FAO and others use C&I to improve consistency in reportingon forest assessment and SFM. Delegates agreed to a conclusion calling for consistencyin the methodology applied to global forest assessment, but indicated that the Panel haddivergent views on the merits of a core set of C&I at the global level.

The EU proposed seeking an international consensus on various aspects of C&I. The USpreferred to seek a common understanding and similarities between different sets of C&I,but not “mutual recognition and convergence.” The final decision urges efforts to achievea common international understanding on: concepts and definitions to formulate C&I; indicators for forests in similar ecological zones; the mutual recognition among sets ofC&I as tools for assessing trends in forest management and national conditions; and transparent methods for measurement of indicators.

In debate on the use of C&I, the US, NEW ZEALAND, GABON and the REPUBLIC OFKOREA said that it was inappropriate to say that C&I could be considered to facilitatecertifying forest management, noting that certification and C&I are distinct and thatcertification is not well understood. AUSTRALIA and the EU proposed that C&I couldbe used in “voluntary certification.” The final document urges countries to promote, asappropriate, use of internationally, regionally, sub-regionally and nationally agreed C&Ias a framework for promoting best forest practices and in facilitating SFM with the fullparticipation of interested parties, and, where appropriate, to clarify links betweennational and subnational or forest management unit/operational levels, promotingcompatibility of C&I at all levels.

The final document also encourages countries to prepare, through a participatoryapproach, national-level C&I and, cognizant of specific country conditions and based oninternationally and regionally agreed initiatives, to implement them. It encouragescountries not yet participating in international and regional C&I initiatives to becomeinvolved. Donor countries and multilateral and international organizations are urged toprovide adequate technical and financial assistance to developing countries andeconomies in transition for this involvement. The IPF also requested that the CBD COPtake note of the various C&I initiatives to ensure that CBD work on biodiversityindicators is consistent and complementary.


Working Group II conducted initial negotiations on proposals for action on Friday, 14February and Tuesday, 18 February. Delegates continued negotiating contentious issuesin a contact group throughout the second week and in the closing Plenary. Theyexchanged views on conclusions on Thursday, 20 February. The final document containsaction proposals on: market access; relative competitiveness; lesser used species;certification and labelling (C&L); full-cost internalization; and market transparency.

MARKET ACCESS: The final document proposes: studying trade-relatedmeasures’ impacts; undertaking measures to improve market access; implementingvoluntary private sector codes of conduct; considering options on a possible agreement ontrade in forest products; and removing unilateral measures.

On improving market access, delegates accepted a US proposal to replace “WTOmembers” with “countries.” A G-77/CHINA proposal to add language that environmentalmeasures should not lead to disguised non-tariff trade barriers was not accepted. The finaltext recommends: reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers; promoting mutually supportivetrade and environment policies; and avoiding conflict between forest-product trademeasures and international obligations.

The G-77/CHINA, supported by MALAYSIA and BRAZIL, supported language onexploring a possible agreement on trade in forest products and extending the concept ofITTA’s Objective 2000 to all types of forests. The US, supported by the EU, NEWZEALAND, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA and CANADA, proposed alternative languageinviting countries and international organizations to take note of the 1994 InternationalTropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) and the commitment made by ITTO members toreview the scope of this agreement in 1997. CANADA stated that consumer membercountries of the ITTO have already stated a corresponding commitment to SFM. BRAZILsaid a forest products agreement would level the playing field between countries withtropical forests and those with boreal and temperate forests. MEXICO and MALAYSIAstressed that any future mechanism must explore the possibility of giving balancedtreatment to forest products from all types of forests. Delegates could not reach consensuson this item because some countries argued that an additional agreement on trade in forestproducts is unnecessary given the ITTA, the 1997 review and the parallel consumerstatement, while others wanted a new agreement to cover more than tropical timber. Thefinal document explains that, without reaching consensus, delegates discussed thefollowing options: noting the ITTA 1994; exploring extension of the concept of Objective2000 for all types of forests; exploring a possible agreement on trade in forest products;examining further initiatives on trade liberalization within the WTO; exploring within anINC possibilities to promote SFM and trade in forest products in an international,comprehensive, legally-binding instrument on all types of forests.

Delegates conducted extensive debate on removing unilateral bans and boycotts. The EU,supported by JAPAN, proposed removing trade-restrictive measures when inconsistentwith international agreements. The G-77/CHINA, supported by MALAYSIA, insisted onretaining a reference to bans and boycotts imposed by local governments. The US notedthat trade measures may be an effective and appropriate means of addressingenvironmental concerns. The final text notes that the Panel considered the relationshipbetween international trade obligations and national measures, including actions imposedby subnational jurisdictions, but was unable to reach consensus. It lists proposed optionson: removing all unilateral measures to the extent that they are inconsistent withinternational agreements; removing all unilateral bans and boycotts inconsistent withinternational trade rules; and observing that these matters should be considered in forawith competence in trade issues.

RELATIVE COMPETITIVENESS: One proposal for action recommendseconomic studies of potential competition between wood and non-wood substitutes.JAPAN deleted references to competition between different forest products and productsfrom different regions of origin. An additional proposal calls for support for developingcountries to increase productivity and efficiency in downstream processing. The USreplaced “promote” with “support, where appropriate,” community-based processing andmarketing of forest products.

LESSER USED SPECIES: Delegates adopted proposals for action on:intensifying efforts to promote lesser used species; implementing policies for utilizationof economically viable lesser used species; and transferring technology and supportingefforts to develop and adapt technologies to increase utilization of the species.

CERTIFICATION AND LABELLING: Delegates agreed on proposals to:consider the potentially mutually supportive relationship between SFM, trade andvoluntary certification and labelling (C&L); assist developing country efforts; applyconcepts such as open access, non-discrimination and cost-effectiveness; conduct furtherstudy; consider the CIFOR C&I project; bring current trends into perspective; andexchange information.

On the relationship between SFM, trade and C&L, the G-77/CHINA 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. The language was not accepted.SWITZERLAND, supported by CANADA, 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 replaced thereference to the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement with “internationalobligations” because many C&L schemes are private and thus not covered under WTOrules.

On assistance to developing countries, the US recommended replacing support formeasures “relating to voluntary C&L” with “enhancing assessment capabilities regardingtrade of sustainably produced forest goods and services.” INDONESIA proposedmeasures relating to enhancing developing countries’ capacity regarding trade that maybe undertaken through C&L. Delegates agreed to “enhance capacity of developingcountries in relation to voluntary C&L.”

Delegates debated application of the concepts of “equivalent standards and mutualrecognition” at length. The G-77/CHINA said that “mutual recognition” is very importantto developing countries. The US transferred the reference to the action proposal onaspects requiring further study. AUSTRALIA added the concept of transparency. The USemphasized applying credibility to certification by separating it from a clause on openaccess and non-discrimination. Other concepts that delegates agreed should be applied tocertification include: non-deceptiveness; cost- effectiveness; participation; and SFM.

On further studies, the need to take account of C&I frameworks was reformulated, basedon a US proposal, to study the “relationship between various C&I frameworks andcertification.” The US, supported by AUSTRALIA and JAPAN, proposed deleting areference to the potential role of governments in developing, implementing, promotingand mutually recognizing C&L schemes, but the EU and SWITZERLAND objected.CANADA opposed a US proposal to delete further study on accreditation. Delegatesagreed to add accreditation processes to a clause on monitoring practical experience withcertification. The IPF accepted new clauses from the G-77/CHINA on the needs ofcountries with low forest cover and on the impact of certification schemes on relativecompetitiveness. In a clause on bringing current trends into perspective, delegates agreedto replace “equivalency and mutual recognition of standards” with the EU-proposed“comparability of standards and avoidance of duplication of efforts.”

Delegates conducted extensive debate on the conclusions on C&L. A call for furtherstudy of the “feasibility of country certification” was replaced with “feasibility andcredibility of certification at different levels” in a conclusion on putting internationalattention to C&L into perspective. Delegates deleted language stating that the Panel didnot endorse the concept of country certification from a conclusion on the role ofgovernments. The EU, the US and NEW ZEALAND deleted bracketed text emphasizingthat certification should apply at the forest management unit level. These countries alsoadvocated deleting language stating that certification should observe sovereignty and betransparent, but the G-77/CHINA objected. The sovereignty language appears in the finalconclusion. Delegates debated the role of governments at length, with the G-77/CHINAstressing that developing countries strongly support the role of government incertification schemes. Based on proposals by the EU and the US, the final conclusionstates that governments have a role in “encouraging” rather than “ensuring” transparency,full participation, non-discrimination and open access to certification schemes.

FULL-COST INTERNALIZATION: Delegates agreed on proposals to: explorefull-cost internalization; undertake analyses of implications for development costs andSFM; and encourage sharing of information and experiences on implementation. The G-77/CHINA proposed “exploring ways and means” rather than “examining mechanisms”for full-cost internalization, and CANADA added “for wood products and non-woodsubstitutes.”

MARKET TRANSPARENCY: Delegates agreed to action proposals to expandwork on market transparency, including possible development of a global database, andto provide an assessment on illegal trade in forest products.

On the assessment of illegal trade, the US recommended that it be undertaken by anindependent group of experts and added that it should incorporate information from allrelevant sources and major groups. The G-77/CHINA proposed that countries provide anassessment and other relevant information. BRAZIL noted that existing studies anddiscussions seem to target specific countries as illegal traders. He stressed that it is illegalharvesting rather than illegal trade that must be countered, and thus it is enforcement ofdomestic legislation rather than formulation of new international regulations that shouldaddress this problem. Countries can therefore share information describing their ownenforcement. The EU proposed that the assessment by countries be provided “to the UNSecretary-General,” to which the G-77/CHINA replied “nice try.” INDIA said this wouldbe a serious infringement on national sovereignty and reminded delegates that there aretwo sides to illegal trade, one where timber is harvested and the other where it isconsumed. Delegates accepted the G-77/CHINA formulation and an EU-proposedinsertion on “considering measures to counter such illegal trade.”


Delegates debated two sub-elements within this programme element during the course ofIPF-4. Co-Chair Rodriguez introduced discussion on programme element V, InternationalOrganizations and multilateral institutions and instruments, including appropriate legalmechanisms, in the afternoon Plenary on Tuesday, 12 February. Joke Waller-Hunter,Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, introduced the Secretary-General’sreport on programme element V.1, International organizations, multilateral institutionsand instruments (E/CN.17/IPF/1997/4). This report provides information on the workundertaken by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests (ITFF) under eachprogramme element and ITFF recommendations on coordination of internationalorganizations’ activities. Waller-Hunter also introduced the Secretary-General’s report onprogramme element V.2, Contribution to consensus-building towards the furtherimplementation of the Forest Principles (E/CN.17/IPF/1997/5). This report givesinformation on different modalities for an intergovernmental policy forum following theIPF and on proposals for legal mechanisms.

Countries gave statements on these documents in Plenary sessions on Tuesday andWednesday, 13-14 February. On Wednesday and Thursday, 19-20 February, delegatescommented on a draft text based on the initial statements. A revised draft was presentedto the Plenary on Friday, 21 February and agreement was reached on final amendments.This final draft combined V.1 and V.2 into a single set of conclusions and actionproposals.

On V.1, International organizations and multilateral institutions and instruments, the EUhighlighted the importance of improving institutional structures, coordinating approachesand filling gaps in a range of areas. UGANDA, GABON, PERU, CUBA, CONGO, theEU, the US, MALAYSIA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND and COLOMBIA expressedsupport for the continuation of the ITFF. The US favored expansion of the ITFF andcoordination of the governing bodies of international institutions and instruments onforests. COLOMBIA stated that coordination with other conventions is fundamental.PERU said the ITFF should provide specific proposals and work on capacity-building.SWITZERLAND said the ITFF should: seek concerted action on NFPs; identify pilotinitiatives through partnerships; study policy frameworks to integrate IPR with TFRK;and explore means to strengthen research. The EU said the ITFF should be an informaland flexible body, while the US emphasized transparency and participatory processes.

PERU stressed the need to identify gaps and overlaps in international organizations and,with CONGO, INDONESIA, PERU and GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL,emphasized the need for improved coordination of existing agreements related to forestsbefore initiating negotiations on a convention. BRAZIL noted that gaps in institutionsand instruments do not imply a need for a convention or an INC now, but instead a needfor improved coordination and communication. The FAO recommended closeexamination of the roles of existing forest-related organizations before deciding to form anew one.

In commenting on the draft text based on earlier statements, the EU amended an actionproposal on the ITFF with language calling on “appropriate international institutions andorganizations involved to continue their work under the chairmanship of FAO as taskmanager for chapter 11 of Agenda 21.” The G-77/CHINA added a focus on the IPF’saction proposals and said that the ITFF should seek further coordination and exploremeans of collaboration and action. JAPAN, with CANADA, highlighted potentialmembership of CIFOR in the ITFF to coordinate scientific research. AUSTRALIA addedthat the ITFF “should support ongoing intergovernmental dialogue.” After further debate,delegates accepted an EU proposal to delete a set of subparagraphs listing actions for theITFF and the US and EU’s language on the ITFF working with internationalorganizations “in accordance with their respective mandates and comparativeadvantages.” The final document calls for appropriate international institutions andorganizations to continue their work in an informal, high-level ITFF under thechairmanship of FAO. The continued ITFF should undertake coordination and explorecollaboration and action in support of any continued intergovernmental dialogue.

On V.2, appropriate legal mechanisms, several delegations highlighted the need for acontinued international policy forum on forests. Many countries recommended that thisbody be under the auspices of the CSD. SENEGAL suggested that it be put under theauspices of FAO. COLOMBIA said it should be permanent, have a Secretariat similar tothat of the IPF and be financed by voluntary contributions.

AUSTRALIA called for an ad hoc high-level intergovernmental forum that shouldreport by 1998 on a legally-binding instrument and by 2000 on other work. GABON andSENEGAL said its timetable should not extend beyond 2000. BRAZIL specified that theforum should analyze all possible alternatives, including the possibility of a convention,and should not be limited by a specific time frame. CHINA said the terms of referenceshould include issues pertaining to a future legal mechanism. VENEZUELA said a forumshould build consensus on a legal instrument.

The US said it would be useful to have a forum to monitor and report on progress inimplementing IPF recommendations. NORWAY emphasized the need to maintainmomentum created by the IPF process by establishing a framework for continuedinternational dialogue on forests with clear objectives and timetables and, withCOLOMBIA, continuing to build consensus on issues which require further discussion.The LATIN AMERICAN FOREST NETWORK said equitable participation in the forumshould be ensured.


CANADA specified that negotiations should be finalized by 2000 and that the mainissues for an INC could include: creation of a permanent global governance structure thatprovides for effective participation of major groups; creation of rights and obligations inachieving SFM; elaboration of modalities for enhanced international cooperation andimproved efficiency and coordination of assistance; and establishment of means fornational reporting on progress in achieving SFM and for monitoring compliance.

The EU proposed that the IPF recommend the establishment of an INC by no later than2000 and said a global forest convention could cover, inter alia: C&I; inventoryand valuation of forests; environmental impact assessment; the special needs ofdeveloping countries and the rights of indigenous people, local communities and smallforest owners; TFRK; international cooperation on funding and technology transfer andcapacity-building; and scientific research.

POLAND said the current momentum toward consensus on the need for a conventionshould not be lost, and a forest convention would facilitate implementation of relatedconventions. INDONESIA noted the need for agreement on an appropriate mechanismfor achieving SFM before discussing the path towards this goal and expressed support forstarting the process of discussion on a convention. The PHILIPPINES underscored theneed to balance all forest values in developing a convention.

MALAYSIA reaffirmed interest in a legal framework in the short term if it includes:reference to the Forest Principles and Agenda 21; treatment of issues including thecomprehensiveness of ITTA commitments; finance and technology transfer; and aholistic treatment of forest-related issues such as biodiversity. COSTA RICA said a forestconvention should address the problems of poverty, debt servicing, declining terms oftrade and overexploitation of natural resources. ARGENTINA recommended establishinga working group of legal and technical experts under the ECOSOC, followed by an INCfor a convention to combat deforestation and forest degradation.

A number of delegations and NGOs said a legally-binding instrument on forests ispremature. The US said a convention might serve as an excuse not to take action to solveproblems on the ground or implement existing agreements and initiatives, could lead to alowest common denominator result, and should not be negotiated at this time. Hehighlighted that several initiatives to promote national implementation of SFM have beenlaunched that require time to mature before the need for a new convention can beadequately assessed.

NEW ZEALAND said no consensus currently exists in support of a convention, and thatit might not be the most cost-effective approach. TURKEY said the need for aninstrument should be kept under review until further consensus is reached. NORWAYsaid there could be advantages to a convention if consensus can be reached, but differingviews on a convention cannot hamper progress on substantive issues. ZIMBABWE statedthat attempting to debate the relative merits of a convention could detract from anecessary focus on implementing the IPF’s proposals for action. UGANDA said the IPFshould focus on developing an action programme before discussing a convention.

JAPAN and CUBA stressed that prior to initiating negotiations on a legally-bindinginstrument, its objectives and scope must be thoroughly discussed and full consensus onthe need for a convention must be achieved. AUSTRALIA said it is yet to be convincedof the need for a global legal instrument.

INDIA said adding layers of international regulation will require a detailed, transparentdebate that should not be rushed or restricted in duration. He reserved judgment on globalregulation of managing sovereign forests. MEXICO, the G-77/CHINA, COLOMBIA,BRAZIL and MALAYSIA said that any future instrument must address all types offorests.

IUCN said the progress of international discussions on forests has been insufficient toprovide a solid foundation for elaborating provisions for a convention. The LATINAMERICAN FOREST NETWORK expressed concern about a lack of political will toprovide adequate financial resources to ensure an effective participatory process informulating such an instrument. CONGO noted that given gaps in existing instruments, aforest convention may be advantageous, but he questioned whether a convention wouldbe a panacea for SFM or would provide adequate financial means.

In the final debate on the recommendation on intergovernmental action to continue thepolicy dialogue, delegates considered whether a specific decision and date for a processtoward a legally-binding instrument were appropriate. The US proposed deleting text thata forum should prepare the basis and build necessary consensus for a decision tonegotiate and elaborate possible elements of a legally-binding instrument, reporting in1999. He suggested alternative language that would consider the need for otherarrangements and mechanisms, including legal arrangements, reporting at the appropriatetime in the CSD’s work programme. NORWAY, supported by CANADA but opposed byMALAYSIA, suggested a formulation that would build the necessary consensus for adecision on and possible elements of a legally-binding convention, maintaining the 1999reporting date.

The final text proposes three options. The first would continue the intergovernmentalpolicy dialogue on forests within existing fora such as the CSD, FAO and otherappropriate international organizations, institutions and instruments. The second wouldestablish an ad hoc, open-ended Intergovernmental Forum on Forests under theCSD, charged with, inter alia, reviewing, monitoring and reporting on progress inthe management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests andmonitoring IPF implementation. Sub-options under this proposal would either prepare thebasis and build consensus for a decision on and elements of a legally-binding instrumentby 1999, or consider the need for other arrangements and mechanisms, including legalarrangements, reporting at the appropriate time in the CSD’s work programme. The thirdoption would establish, as soon as possible, an INC on a legally-binding instrument onall types of forests with a focused and time-limited mandate.

Delegates adopted the EU’s proposal for additional text noting that the options were notnecessarily seen to be mutually exclusive. Action proposals also include reference to asupplemental report of written suggestions on the mandate and work programme of aforum or INC and note that either a forum or INC would be supported by a smallsecretariat.

The final document also recognizes the need for improved coordination and that no singlebody, organization or instrument can address in a balanced, holistic way all issues on theinternational agenda related to all types of forests. It states that more needs to be done toclarify mandates, define capacities and address overlaps, gaps and areas needingenhancement. Forest activities should be made more transparent, effective and flexibleand should provide for participation of and collaboration with all interested groups. Areasfor improvement include: institutional governance; monitoring and coordinationmechanisms; participation of major groups; capacity-building and technology transfer;international and bilateral funding coordination; and focused funding for research.

The Panel agreed that it is necessary to deal with all interrelated social, cultural,economic, trade, environment, development, production, financial and technology issues,taking into account different levels of social and economic development and a time framefor action. It recommends a continued intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests,which could include a high-level component to consider relevant issues, recognizing thesovereign right of States over their natural resources as contained in Principles 2 and 7 ofthe Rio Declaration and 1(a) and 2(a) of the Forest Principles.

Action proposals urge international organizations, in cooperation with countries, tosupport IPF proposals. Countries are called on to: support international and regionalagencies’ and organizations’ work; through their governing bodies, to clarify relevantinternational institutions’ mandates and eliminate waste and duplication; guideinstitutions and instruments to accelerate incorporation of UNCED results, progress sincethen and IPF results; and support activities related to the management, conservation andsustainable development of all types of forests.


IPF-4 concluded with a Plenary session in the afternoon and evening of Friday, 21February. The G-77/CHINA presented a proposed introduction on: the Panel’s origins; itsmandate and link to the Forest Principles, particularly Principle 1(a) recognizing nationalsovereignty; its inability to deal with the complexity of issues in four sessions; andelaboration of its important conclusions and proposals for action.

Delegates adopted the introduction with the following amendments: The EU addedreference to: the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21; improvement of existing forest-relatedinternational cooperation by implementing the Panel’s action proposals; and provision foreffective participation of and collaboration with all interested parties and major groups,emphasizing the crucial role of women. CANADA replaced “commitments andobligations” with “decisions and commitments” made at UNCED. The US added asubparagraph recognizing progress that has been made since Rio on, inter alia,substantive international dialogue on forests; the results of regional, international andcountry-led initiatives; and a better understanding of SFM.

The Plenary adopted the Panel’s report contained in five informal papers, agreeing tomake a distinction between the action proposals generally agreed as the result ofnegotiations and the conclusions reflecting the overall thrusts of the Panel’s discussionsunder various programme elements.

Final statements were made by the EU, the G-77/CHINA, the US and the ALLIANCEOF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES. The EU highlighted the important role of NFPs and urgeddelegates not to allow the global forest policy momentum to slip away. The G-77/CHINAreflected on the complex agenda and need to resolve issues on technology transfer andnew and additional financial resources. The ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLESnoted that the participation of indigenous peoples in the Panel and the Leticiaintersessional meeting were precedents in the CSD. He further stressed the importance ofenvironmental and social justice and the recognition of the comprehensive rights ofindigenous peoples to development and to control their territories, knowledge,technologies and cultural heritage. In his closing remarks, Co-Chair Rodriguez noted themajor differences of opinion and slow pace of collective understanding on how to resolveglobal forest problems, trade and financial matters and the domestic root causes ofdeforestation. He said he was optimistic about the substance and creativity in many of theaction proposals that will guide implementation of SFM. Co-Chair Holdgate wasencouraged by the Panel’s spirit of warm cooperation and fellowship.


The final day’s debates over trade, finance and legal instruments captured the intractableessence of the IPF’s divided outcomes. A characteristically frank discussion of the properrole of national versus international action on illegal forest products trade led to anexchange that could serve as an epitaph to the entire IPF process. The G-77/China andEuropean Union dismissed each other’s suggestions with the same phrase: “nice try.”

The IPF process witnessed some shifting in the political winds, in the form of willingnesson the part of previously reluctant countries to consider and even support an internationalforest convention. But after 18 months of research, intersessional meetings, discussionand debate, the roots of resistance that run beneath efforts to extend international forestpolicy still run strong and deep. Sovereignty, financial and trade-related issues still standbetween the international community and any consensus on forests.

The IPF began with an ambitious agenda to forge consensus on previously difficult issuesin international forest policy. It ended with negotiated text on its action proposals, themost contentious of which contain multiple options that illustrate the Panel’s inability toreach consensus. The intensity of the debate on proposals for action left little time for fullnegotiation of the conclusions, and thus, despite early overtures by the Co-Chairs,delegates were unable to fulfill their pledge to deliver a fully negotiated and thereforemore authoritative final report. Controversial issues, such as whether to pursue a globalforest convention or where to find the funds needed to implement sustainable forestmanagement, resulted in either tentative language or options that expose familiar, long-standing divisions.

One theme that arose repeatedly throughout the IPF agenda was the pull between nationalcontrol over natural resources and international oversight or regulation of “global”environmental concerns. This issue was particularly conspicuous in the debate overassessment of illegal trade in forest products. The position of Brazil, the G-77/China andIndia that the problem was one of national legislation and enforcement and, therefore, notopen for discussion at the international level, demonstrated the sway that sovereigntycontinues to hold in international debate. Sovereignty served as a limit on IPF actions innumerous other issue areas, with delegations from both North and South insisting thatrecommendations only apply within national legal limits or according to nationalcircumstances.

Another familiar theme is the call for new and additional financial resources and transferof technology to developing countries. Language recalling the Forest Principles andAgenda 21 on these subjects was the vehicle used by the G-77/China to remind othercountries of their position — contained in the Rio agreements — that achievement of theultimate universal goal of sustainable management of forests depends in developingcountries on external assistance. Although this provoked much debate, many of thesereferences were retained in the final text. Language on a new global development fund forforests was also included in the final document, but with fairly clear opposition fromdonor countries and listed alongside options in which the international community woulddiscuss the proposal or pursue actions to enhance funding in other ways.

A number of delegations seemed to view the IPF as a potential vehicle for attractingfinances into the forest sector, but it is unclear whether IPF’s recommendations will affectdonor support for sustainable forest management. The desire by some donors to push fora global forest convention may hold promise as a means of leverage for recipientcountries to demand increases in assistance as they consider whether to support aconvention. This may foreshadow shifting alliances in the future.

Support from Malaysia and Indonesia for a global convention is perhaps the most notablerecent shift in positions. But the support among some developing countries was matchedby strong doubts from others, such as Brazil, who at one point described the move to aconvention as a bid by “loggers and traders” to green-wash and promote their activities.

NGO efforts seemed to shift by the end of the IPF process, from encouraging strongerinternational action to defending against steps that might further harm the world’s forests.Although a small number supported calls for a convention, the majority of environmentalNGOs opposed it as premature, leading to ineffective policies and formalizing lowestcommon denominator global standards for SFM, while neglecting seemingly morepressing issues that need to be addressed. Many NGOs also were of the view that thenegotiation of a convention would waste valuable time and delay the implementation ofany policies that would better manage the world’s forests.

The debate and divergence of opinion on action regarding a convention became the focalpoint of IPF-4. Yet some argued that the emphasis on a convention was excessive. Anumber of delegations and observers expressed frustration that IPF-4 was hijacked bydiscussion of the convention question when other substantive issues did not receiveadequate attention.

Others considered the value of the IPF process to be an endorsement of general steps todefine and pursue sustainable forest management, regardless of a convention. The IPFenhanced understanding of technical aspects of forest planning and research, spurredaction in a number of countries to begin addressing forest problems, and raised the profileof emerging certification and C&I initiatives. Social concerns, participation andtransparency are integrated into the IPF’s action proposals, and the Panel was open tomajor groups, particularly indigenous peoples. Still, divergent views surround SFM aswell. There is no consensus yet on what SFM means in concrete terms nor how to balancecommodity and economic values of forests with ecological and sociocultural values.

The IPF left open the question of what the international community’s next steps will berelated to forests. Its recommendations to the CSD provide a wide range of options thatreveal the divisions that delegates were not able to bridge during the past 18 months.Observers wonder what the CSD, a body with presumably less forest expertise than theIPF and with an extensive list of issues on its agenda, will be able to make of thishodgepodge of recommendations.

The next bodies that will consider forest policy, the CSD and the UN General Assembly,have higher political authority to take decisions on these questions. Supporters of aconvention hope that the higher-level political consideration that this issue will receive atthe CSD will translate into greater interest in a legal instrument. Opponents are hopingthat the opposite will occur — that the CSD will view the non-convention options as clearalternatives. It is unclear, however, whether higher political authority will translate intopolitical will to move toward the fundamental goals espoused in this process. The IPFdemonstrated it is possible to continue the policy dialogue, but not whether another “nicetry” can advance global forest sustainability.


COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The Intersessionalmeeting for the CSD, which will address preparations for the Special Session of the UNGeneral Assembly, will convene from 24 February-7 March 1997 in New York. CSD-5 isscheduled for 7-25 April 1997. For more information on the CSD, contact: AndreyVasilyev, UN Division for Sustainable Development, tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail: Also visit the UN Department for PolicyCoordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) Home Page at

SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The SpecialSession of the UN General Assembly is scheduled for 23-27 June 1997. The session willreview progress in implementing the UNCED agreements since the 1992 Earth Summit.For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, UN Division for SustainableDevelopment, tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail: visit the UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development(DPCSD) Home Page for the Special Session at

INTERNATIONAL MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON BIODIVERSITY ANDSUSTAINABLE TOURISM: An international ministerial conference on biodiversityand sustainable tourism will be held from 6-8 March 1997 in Berlin, Germany. For moreinformation, contact: Marc Auer, Federal Ministry for the Environment, NatureConservation and Nuclear Safety, P.O. Box 120629, D-53048, Bonn, Germany, tel: +49-228-305-2615; fax: +49-228-305-2694.

FORESTS FOR LIFE CONFERENCE: The World Wildlife Fund is organizinga conference on forests and certification between 8-10 May 1997 in San Francisco,California. For more information, contact: Dominick DellaSala, WWF-US, 1250 24thStreet NW, Washington DC 20037-1175, tel: +1-202-822-3465; fax: +1-202-887-5293;e-mail:

FIFTEENTH COMMONWEALTH FORESTRY CONFERENCE: The 15thCommonwealth Forestry Conference is scheduled for 12-17 May 1997 in Victoria Falls,Zimbabwe. For more information, contact: Peter Gondo, Zimbabwe ForestryCommission, P.O. Box HG 139, Highlands, Harare, Zimbabwe; tel: +263-14-49-8430;fax: +263-14-49-7066.

TWENTY-FIRST SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL TROPICAL TIMBERCOUNCIL: The 21st Session of the International Tropical Timber Council willconvene from 21-30 May 1997 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. For more information, contact:ITTO Secretariat, International Organization Centre, Pacifico-Yokohama 220, Japan, tel:+81-45-223-1111; e-mail:

BIODIVERSITY IN MANAGED FORESTS — CONCEPTS AND SOLUTIONSCONFERENCE: A conference on Biodiversity in Managed Forests will take placefrom 29-31 May in Uppsala, Sweden. For more information, contact: Carl Henrik Palmr,SkogForsk, Glunten S-75183, Uppsala, Sweden, tel: +46 18-18-85-32; fax: +46 18-18-86-00; e-mail:

GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FORUM: A Global Biodiversity Forum is tentativelyscheduled for June 1997 in Harare, Zimbabwe. For more information, contact: JeffreyMcNeely, IUCN World Headquarters, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland,tel: +4122-999-0284; fax: +4122-999-0025; e-mail:

CONFERENCE ON FUTURE FOREST POLICY: A conference on FutureForest Policy in Europe will take place between 15-18 June 1997 in Joensuu, Finland. Formore information, contact: Brita Pajari, tel: +358-13-252-223; fax: +358-13-124-393; e-mail:

ELEVENTH WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS: The Eleventh World ForestryCongress will be held from 13-22 October 1997 in Antalya, Turkey. For moreinformation, contact: Luis Santiago Botero, FAO Forestry Department, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy, tel: +396-522-55088; fax: +396-522-5215; e-mail:

Further information