Cooperation was the theme on the third day of ITTC-59 as delegates’ discussions focused on project achievements in forest landscape and ecosystem restoration, livelihoods, markets and even the peacebuilding implications of ITTO’s work. The four ITTO committees convened throughout the day.
The Committee on Reforestation and Forest Management (CRF) highlighted the renewal of ITTO’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), noting that the organization is well positioned to contribute to meeting targets under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in 2022. In presentations on completed projects and those still in progress, countries noted various accomplishments, for example:
- expansion of mangroves in Peru by more than 700,000 hectares;
- better understanding of animal movements and habitats in the Emerald Triangle Protected Forest Complex, including tiger, elephant, gaur and banteng (both species of wild cattle), and Sarus crane, through transboundary cooperation among Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand;
- teak forest conservation and promotion of legal and sustainable wood supply chains in the Greater Mekong Subregion;
- support for women’s groups in Togo to restore landscapes, produce seedlings, and improve livelihoods; and
- training of more than 400 foresters in sustainable forest management in Central African countries.
The Committee on Economics, Statistics and Markets, and the Committee on Forest Industry (CEM-CFI) heard progress reports on projects under implementation on promoting sustainable domestic wood consumption in Viet Nam, Thailand, and Indonesia. The Trade Advisory Group (TAG) suggested that Committees should seek funding for long-term capacity development for research into tropical countries’ domestic markets.
The Committee on Finance and Administration (CFA) considered ways to address the arrears situation. Participants discussed options for incentivizing countries that have not paid their membership dues to restart payments, including a proposal to allow those countries to once again seek project funding. A contact group met after lunch to further develop a draft decision regarding the arrears.
An emerging theme during the day was ITTO’s role with regard to forest fires. Delegates discussed revision of ITTO’s existing guidelines on the prevention and management of forest fires, drawing on the experiences of Indonesia and Peru. Thailand’s space agency, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), presented its use of space technology to survey remote and fire-prone forest areas, noting that Chiang Mai had recently suffered the world’s worst air quality due to fires. The US and EU called on ITTO to engage with the Global Fire Management Hub launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), and Australia noted the role of fire management in promoting ecological benefits.
A donor meeting took place at lunchtime.
Plenary reconvened in the late afternoon. Delegates further discussed the future of the 2006 International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), which is set to expire in 2026. While most expressed support for extending ITTA to 2029, the EU and China requested more time to complete consultations and anticipated being ready to take a formal decision in the next four to six months.
The Secretariat reported on achievements of the previous biennium, explaining that because of the global COVID pandemic the time period for implementing the work of the previous biennium, 2021-22, had been extended through 2023. The proposed Budget and Programme of Work for the 2024-25 Biennium was presented for the Council’s consideration.
Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff, FAO, detailed key interventions of the IUCN/FAO GEF 8 Indo-Malaya Critical Forest Biome Integrated Program, which offers opportunities for ITTO involvement.
Jamal Annaglyjova, CBD Secretariat, by video, described renewed collaboration between CBD and ITTO on implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
At the close of the day, the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) signed an MOU with ITTO, in preparation for joint implementation of future initiatives and, in the words of Executive Director Satkuru, “a good, bright future.”
A drafting group met in the evening to consider a draft decision addressing extension of ITTA 2006.