Daily report for 19 May 2005

5th Session of the UNFF

On Thursday morning, delegates met in concurrent Working Groups. Working Group I met to consider the Chair's draft decision on the future international arrangement on forests (IAF). Working Group II met to discuss draft elements of the ministerial declaration as well as the issue of finance relating to the IAF. Regional group consultations continued throughout the day.


Vice-Chair Reslan Ishar Jenie (Indonesia) opened the discussion on review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests (IAF), consideration of future actions, consideration with a view to recommending the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests, and enhanced cooperation, and introduced the Chair's draft decision. A number of delegations said the Chair's draft text is a good basis for discussion. JAMAICA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, requested additional time to examine the text. LUXEMBOURG, on behalf of the EU, supported by AUSTRALIA and the US, said it is important to give the G-77/CHINA the requested time. The DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO and CUBA noted that only an English version of the draft text had been provided, requested translated versions, and urged the Secretariat to follow UN procedures. The Secretariat noted serious limitations in providing document translation. Vice-Chair Ishar Jenie suspended the meeting to grant the G-77/CHINA time for consultation.


Vice-Chair Denys Gauer (France) opened Working Group II by suggesting that detailed discussion of the draft ministerial declaration be set aside in favor of a general exchange of views on global goals and financial aspects. LUXEMBOURG, on behalf of the EU, stated that he was ready to discuss goals, but not financial aspects. JAMAICA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, requested additional time for group consultations. MAURITANIA suggested that initiatives aimed at combating deforestation be focussed on underlying causes. The US expressed willingness to discuss initial general reactions on goals and means of implementation. SWITZERLAND, while acknowledging the G-77/CHINA's need for further consultation, suggested that Working Group II proceed with deliberations in order to allow enough time for producing a meaningful outcome.

LUXEMBOURG, on behalf of the EU, suggested that the Chair's draft ministerial declaration should convey the importance of forests in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), deliver a clear message to the Millennium Summit, and contain key messages emerging from the ministerial roundtables.

The US supported the EU but noted the need to focus on strengthening the future IAF and provide compelling language on why the ministers are taking this action. She also cautioned that the real objective of the declaration is not to tie the contributions of forests only to the MDGs but to social, economic, and environmental goals in general, for greater longevity within the broader international dialogue.

SWITZERLAND also noted that linking the declaration directly to the MDGs could be misleading, and suggested that more weight be given to innovative approaches to providing means of implementation and advocated explicit mention of strengthening governance at all levels.

Vice-Chair Gauer proposed that a second draft declaration be produced next Monday, following Friday's discussion.

On global goals, the US called for a clear statement of purpose that would be understood by others. She favored identifying flexible policies and actions at the national level, which would contribute to achieving agreed-upon objectives, rather than setting quantified international targets.

LUXEMBOURG, on behalf of the EU, called for establishing quantifiable global goals in order to send a clear message on forests, as well as national targets, which should be related to the global goals. He reminded participants that other processes have succeeded in establishing quantified objectives.

SWITZERLAND stated that the original Economic and Social Council decision establishing the IAF should be reaffirmed in the preamble as well as in a separate paragraph within the text, and preferred that the text include a small number of quantifiable global goals. MEXICO favored quantifiable global goals associated with clear time frames, with self-defined national targets. NEW ZEALAND suggested the inclusion of realistic and measurable global goals capable of demonstrating the potential of forests to contribute to the social agenda. CANADA supported the inclusion of global goals, but called for addressing deforestation separately from the issue of forest degradation.

Vice-Chair Gauer adjourned the meeting in order to allow the G-77/CHINA more time to consider the Chair's draft declaration.


Many have said that the G-77/CHINA has made progress in its initial reading of the draft text, noting agreement, at least in principle, to the idea of "strategic objectives" as opposed to "goals" or "targets." But, according to some, there remains considerable controversy within the G-77/CHINA over the desirability of a legally binding instrument and uncertainty as to what a voluntary code might entail.

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