Fifth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests
United Nations Headquarters, New York | 16-27 May 2005 
     
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The Future IAF - A Dream Deferred
Efforts to Reach Global Agreement Fail at UNFF-5


The fifth session of the UN Forum on Forests concluded Friday, with many involved conceding failure. The session had begun with the lofty goal of reaching a global agreement on all types of forests, but as negotiations continued throughout the first week and into the second, it became apparent that the gaps between country and regional group positions were too significant to overcome at this time, and participants had "bitten off more than they could chew."

The morning session was suspended so that the UNFF-5 Bureau could meet to complete the Decisions. Their distribution to delegates in the afternoon session resulted in frenzied conferring both within and between national delegations and regionl groups, followed by discussion and debate of the decisions. After closing statements and final remarks from delegations, UNFF-5 Chair Manuel Rodriguez Becerra gaveled the new UNFF-6 session to a suspension at 6:45 PM; UNFF-6 will resume February 13, 2006 in New York.

Above, Hadil da Rocha Vianna of Brazil, Jan McAlpine of the United States, Franz Perrez of Switzerland and Peter Csoka of the UNFF Secretariat discuss the text of the Decisions.


Friday, 27 May
Closing Plenary


Everton Vieira Vargas of Brazil strongly opposed temporally limiting the mandate of the UNFF.

Gustavo Ainchil of Argentina stated that major groups have had a chance to present their views, and that leaving them out of one session would not set a precedence of non-participation.

On the subject of wording pertaining to major groups, Oleg Shamanov of the Russian Federation recommended reference to "inputs," following the precedent set in the ECOSOC resolution that created UNFF.

Venezuela said that since a multi-stakeholder dialogue was completed in UNFF-5, UNFF-6 should focus on governmental negotiations.

Mike Fullerton of Canada supported a proposal by the EU to postpone the decision on whether or not to hold a seventh session of UNFF, depending on the achievements of the sixth session.

Pekka Patosaari, UNFF Coordinator and Head, thanked the delegations for their hard work.

John Talbot of Australia stated plans to work on a regional process within its Asia-Pacific sphere of influence.

Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty signatories, noted its commitment to cooperation and said that the group will bring a clear regional perspective to UNFF-6.

Charlotte Cudby of New Zealand expressed disappointment at the outcome of UNFF-5, and said that it will work regionally between now and UNFF-6.
Around UNFF-5

Everton Vieira Vargas of Brazil conferred with UNFF-5 Chair Manuel Rodriguez Becerra.

Members of the Danish delegation conferred.

Delegates from Canada and elsewhere conferred.

The Iranian delegation conferred in the corridors.

Coordinator Patosaari conferred with Chair Rodriguez Becerra.

Vice-Chair Denys Gauer of France conferred with Franz Perrez and Beat Nobs of Switzerland.

Osita Anaedu noted that he and Nigeria's other delegates had been in attendance, despite being inadvertently omitted from the provisional list of participants.

Croatia and Côte D'Ivoire - alphabetically, if not geographically, close neighbors.

Brazil's Tasso Rezende de Azevedo struck a relaxed pose.

A North-South cooperation hug for Norway and Nigeria.

Youth delegate Galuh Sekar Arum took notes while talking with Michael Buck, retired state forester of Hawaii.

Delegates from Australia and New Zealand huddled around Australia's John Talbot to discuss the draft text after its distribution.

UNFF-5 Chair Manuel Rodriguez Becerra gaveled the new UNFF-6 session to a suspension at 6:45 PM.

ENB writer Radoslav Dimitrov and Vice-Chair Gauer of France discussed how the failure to produce agreement on goals will affect allocation of financial resources, while Boris Romaguer of Canada listened.

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


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