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Fifth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests
United Nations Headquarters, New York | 16-27 May 2005 

Earth Negotiations Bulletin - ENB
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16 May
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Consensus Elusive as UNFF Heads to Final Day

On Tuesday, delegates met all day in a high-level segment on actions for the future. Following ministerial statements from many countries, UNFF Coordinator and Head Pekka Patosaari presented a rapidly prepared draft Ministerial Declaration.

Upon reading the draft, several countries stated that it was too general, "light and weak," and did not send a strong enough message on behalf of the UNFF to the UN General Assembly and the outside world. The Chair decided, and delegates agreed, to retract the Ministerial Declaration in favor of a Chairman's summary of the high-level segment.

A concurrent negotiation on the Chair's draft decision was conducted in a contact group throughout the day and late into the evening. Above, delegates participate in the contact group.

Friday, 26 May
High-Level Segment: Actions for the Future

UNFF Coordinator and Head Pekka Patosaari and UNFF-5 Chair Manuel Rodríguez-Becerra.

Speaking for the EU, Octavia Modert of Luxembourg noted that decisions would have to be postponed if targets and goals could not be agreed upon.

Jim Anderson of New Zealand stressed biennial regional meetings, assessment of progress, and new funding arrangements.

Dato Sri Haji Adenan Bin Haji Satem of Malaysia called for firm political commitment, capacity building and funding.

Buyelwa Sonjica of South Africa called for the international arrangement on forests (IAF) to identify concrete ways in which forests can contribute to poverty alleviation.

Valery Roshchupkin of the Russian Federation recommended an enhanced UNFF role in policy development.

Shri Namo Narain Meena of India highlighted the role of his country's national Joint Forest Management principles in poverty eradication.

Nicolas Forissier of France highlighted the successes of the Congo Basin Partnership, and stressed ambition and flexibility in the IAF.

Alexandre Barro Chambrier of Gabon, on behalf of the Central African Forest Commission, regretted that deforestation continues.

Penelope Beckles of Trinidad and Tobago emphasized watershed rehabilitation and the challenge posed by natural disasters.

Juha Korkeaoja of Finland expressed disappointment that a legally-binding instrument (LBI) would not be achieved, and said that soft law would draw soft commitment.

Elliott Morley of the United Kingdom stressed that the status quo is unacceptable.

Martins Roze of Latvia called for clear definition of the state's role in achieving sustainable forest management (SFM).

Lincon Ralechate Mokose of Lesotho noted that its forest policy encourages gender equality.

Atilio Savino of Argentina recommended time-bound objectives based on common interests.

Zhu Lieke of China stressed national sovereignty over SFM and involvement of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and major groups in policy development.

Sandra Suárez Pérez of Colombia called for renewed political and financial commitment from the international community.

Trad Hamadeh of Lebanon noted that the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) was a success, but highlighted the effects of violent conflict on forests.

Imre Németh of Hungary supported voluntary responsibility on agreed guidelines.

André van der Zande of the Netherlands stated that the credibility of all forest-related processes is jeopardized by the absence of action.

Hosny El-Lakany of the CPF emphasized the importance of streamlined forest reporting and noted that its members are accountable to their respective governing bodies.

Manoel Sobral of the International Tropical Timber Organization stated deforestation is concentrated in 15 countries and that few environmental services are provided by plantations.

Hama Arba Diallo of UN Convention on Combating Desertification cautioned against blaming deforestation on its victims.

Conrod Hunte of the Convention on Biological Diversity highlighted contributions of their 2010 Global Biodiversity Targets and forest program.

Steve Lonergan of the UN Environmental Program questioned why the IAF remains weak, despite consensus regarding the decline of forest ecosystems, and stated that the Millennium Development Goals review will hold the UNFF accountable for inaction.

Speaking for women, Jeanette Gurung noted the lack of recognition of women at UNFF-5 and called for structural changes within forestry organizations to address gender equity.

Speaking for youth and children, Richard Modley recommended that forestry profits reach those living in forests.

Speaking for workers and trade unions, James Ernest Jones noted that ending illegal forest activity is more a matter of social justice than enforcement.

Speaking for NGOs, Miguel Lovera stated that dialogue on an LBI has hampered badly needed implementation, and that without clear and quantifiable targets and reporting mechanisms most NGOs would not participate in an IAF.

Speaking for farmers and small forest landowners, Natalie Hufnagel called for securing land tenure and property rights, and acknowledging the contributions of forests to livelihoods.

Speaking for indigenous peoples, Victoria Corpuz requested addition of several references to the participation of indigenous peoples in the Chair's text.

Mike Fullerton of Canada asked the Chair for an update on the status of the contact group negotiations, but no update was provided.

M.A. Oyebo of Nigeria requested capacity building, financial flows, market access and transfer of environmentally-sound technologies.

Edwin Angel Aguilera Antunes of Bolivia pointed to the effects of conflict on forests, and recommended democratizing access to forest resources.

Lars Sponheim of Norway stressed the need for global targets and timetables, cross-sectoral partnerships, and a regional component of the IAF.

F.D.C. Nhema of Zimbabwe called for additional financial resources to address challenges in implementing SFM, including high national indebtedness, poverty, HIV/AIDS and national disasters.

Zakia Meghji of Tanzania pointed to a positive correlation between forest conservation and achievment of international development goals.

Mahmout Hajjati of Iran stated that low forest cover countries should enjoy adequate support from the international community and an appropriate place in the new IAF.

Tomasz Podgajniak of Poland emphasized the global community's common responsibility for forests.

Leoncio Alvares Vásquez of Peru listed their initiatives toward SFM, including recognizing the ancestral rights of indigenous people.

Syed Mahmood Nasir of Pakistan listed its efforts to reduce dependence on natural forests.

Ivica Grbac of Croatia trumpeted its success in achieving Forest Stewardship Council certification of state forests.

Nedson Nzowa of Zambia highlighted its internalization of MEA commitments.

Claudia McMurray of the United States proposed development of a voluntary code based on a shared vision and a coherent framework.

Ramon J.P. Paje of the Philippines conveyed the urgency of addressing deforestation through adequate means of implementation.

Beat Nobs of Switzerland stressed its preference for an LBI that would guarantee financing, but added they are ready to explore consensus alternatives that contain time-bound goals complemented by national targets.

Mutsuyoshi Nishimura of Japan supported adopting a practical course of action and a code of conduct.

Duason Jovic of Serbia and Montenegro stressed the importance of decentralization, democratization and participatory planning.

Guido Scalici of Italy highlighted forest governance and law enforcement as central issues, particularly in post-conflict situations.

Ananta Raj Pandey of Nepal pointed to the lack of financial resources for SFM.

Sinikka Bohlin of Sweden stressed the importance of women's role in forests.

John Talbot of Australia emphasized regional approaches and a strong IAF reflected in meaningful implementation.

Jim Farrell of Canada professed commitment to official development assistance and the IAF, but cautioned that they and other countries would pursue alternative processes if the UNFF fails to address deforestation and forest degradation.

James Singh of Guyana stated that any proposed LBI must be accompanied by assurance of adequate financial resources.

Ty Sokhun of Cambodia supported an LBI as the most effective mechanism, and stressed his nation's commitment to implement the Proposals for Action.

Carlos Weber of Chile emphasized addressing underlying causes of disagreement within the UNFF.

Rodney López Clemente of Cuba stated that developing countries have yet to receive necessary means of implementation.

Marco Suazo of Honduras described Central America's regional approaches and stated their preference for an LBI.

Vasile Lupu of Romania chaired the afternoon plenary.

Relevant weblinks

United Nations Forum on Forests
UNFF 5 Provisional Agenda
UNFF 5 Organization of Work (PDF)
UNFF 5 Background Documents
UNFF 5 Official Documents

ENB's coverage of recent Forestry sessions

FAO Committee on Forestry: 14-19 March 2005
ITTC-37: 13-18 December 2004
UNFF Experts Group: 7-10 September 2004
ITTC-36: 20-23 July 2004
UNFF4: 3-14 May 2004