Forests, Deserts, Land
ITTC-37 REPORTS PROGRESS
Progress on a range of issues has been reported from the latest meeting of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC).
The Council, which met for its 37th session from 13-18 December 2004 in Yokohama, Japan, examined a range of issues, including: phased approaches to certification; measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the ITTO project cycle; enhancement of cooperation between ITTO and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) for ramin and mahogany; strengthening the Asia Forest Partnership; forest law enforcement in the context of sustainable timber production and trade; and criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. Delegates to ITTC-37 approved 25 projects and five pre-projects and pledged US$8 million for project financing.
Delegates also convened for the 35th sessions of the Committees on Economic Information and Market Intelligence, Forest Industry, and Reforestation and Forest Management to approve projects and pre-projects, review projects and pre-projects under implementation and ex-post evaluations, select completed projects for ex-post evaluation, and conduct policy work. The 16th session of the Committee on Finance and Administration also met to approve the indicative Administrative Budget for 2005, and review the current status of the Administrative Account.
In what was reportedly a good-natured meeting, delegates were able to agree on a decision to enhance cooperation between the ITTO and CITES for ramin and mahogany, and experienced only minor delays in formulating a decision on improving the effectiveness of the ITTO project cycle. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin
ASB Open Science Meeting CONSIDERS FORESTS AND WATER LINKAGES
The linkages between forestry and water issues were the focus of a recent meeting held in Indonesia.
The “ASB Open Science Meeting on Tropical Forests and Water” took place on 8 December 2004 on the campus of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia. Organized by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), which is the global coordination office of the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) Consortium, the meeting was attended by over 100 representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.
Focusing on linkages between forestry and water, the meeting presented research on tropical forests and water supply, deforestation and local watershed hazards, hydrological effects of reforestation, watershed conflict management, and other topics. Policymakers and global experts also engaged in discussions on local implications of this new understanding of forest/water relationships. The Sustainable Developments
U.S. Criticized over Arctic Climate Deal
November 2004: A meeting on global warming in the Arctic has ended without agreement on the need for firm action as a result of U.S. skepticism, according to critics. The Council, which is made up of eight countries that border the region, as well as six indigenous groups, met in Reykjavik, Iceland, from 22-24 November to discuss the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Four years in the making, the study involved hundreds of scientists. It concluded that the region has already been seriously affected by global warming, with worsening impacts likely in future.
In spite of growing evidence of the need for action, however, the Council was unable to agree on any specific recommendations for action. The U.S. delegation reportedly vetoed such language, resulting in a declaration that recognized people's concerns for the Arctic, but fell short of specific goals, targets or actions. Environmentalists have described the meeting as a “missed opportunity.”
The Council meeting was preceded by a growing war of words in the U.S. media between climate skeptics and those favoring strong action. Just days before the meeting was due to start, Alaska's congressional representatives cast doubt on the view that climate change was being caused by humans. “I don't believe it is our fault. That's an opinion, it's as sound as any scientist's,” said Republican Congressman Don Young. Meanwhile, climate skeptic Dennis Avery, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, recently dismissed fears over climate change as “unnecessary fretting,” and Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia disputed claims that human activities are causing rapid warming in the Arctic, arguing that the region was hotter only a few thousand years ago, and that such fluctuations are natural.
On the other side of the debate, Republican Senator John McCain, has been pressing for urgent action, and is sponsoring a bill to cut emissions in the U.S. In a recent meeting of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Robert Corell, who chaired the Arctic study, observed that warming is happening more rapidly there than in other parts of the world. He also highlighted glacial melting, shorter and warmer winters, and more rainfall, and warned of bigger and more rapid changes in future.
Links to further information
The Mercury News, 25 November 2004
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, November 2004
Pittsburgh Live column, 30 November 2004
MSNBC report, November 2004
CNS News, 19 November 2004
ENS report, 17 November 2004
Chicago Sun-Times article, 14 November 2004
GEF Council Decides on Further Consultations on Resource Allocation Framework
19 November 2004: The GEF Council, which met from 17-19 November in Washington DC, took decisions on: the process for monitoring and evaluation relations with Council and other entities; action plan to respond to recommendations of the project performance review; management response to the review of GEF's engagement with the private sector; programme studies on biodiversity, climate change and international waters; the OPS3 inception report; the four year work plan; verification of replenishment targets; fourth replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund; work programme; institutional relations; resource allocation framework; business plan; amendments to the instrument; climate change funds; and recommendations of the working group on medium-sized projects.
The expected decision on the GEF's resource allocation framework was deferred to the June 2005 Council meeting, where the three motions tabled by Council Members will be negotiated. In this regard, the Secretariat has been requested to facilitate further consultations on the framework in early March 2005. The Council also took a decision on the development of a private sector strategy, agreeing that such a strategy should be based on an analysis of the barriers to private sector participation in the GEF and means to overcome those barriers. The Council will consider the Strategy at its December 2005 meeting.
On the Small Grants Programme (SGP), the Council agreed to an increase in funding to US$47 million for the first year of GEF SGP OP3 (mid-February 2005 to mid-February 2006). Regarding desertification, the Council requested the Secretariat to circulate the draft memorandum of understanding describing arrangements to facilitate collaboration between the GEF and the UNCCD for further consideration at its June 2005 meeting. On the UNFCCC climate change funds, the Council endorsed its programming document as an operational basis for funding of activities under the Special Climate Change Fund. The Council deferred its consideration of agenda items on: land degradation; the process for selecting the CEO/Chairman of the Facility; and other business.[GEF November 2004 Council meeting documents
UN PREPARES FOR ‘INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF DESERTS'
Representatives of several UN agencies have gathered in Washington, DC, to continue planning for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification in 2006.
The meeting, which took place on 16 November 2004, involved the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, UNDP, UNEP, IFAD, the World Bank and UNESCO. A strategy paper was recently circulated outlining various awareness raising events and tools that could be used in preparing for 2006. Ideas under consideration at the meeting included the hosting of a scientific conference on desertification and appointment of goodwill ambassadors. The strategy paper will be finalized during a meeting that will take place on the sidelines of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is taking place in December 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The UN Resolution on the International Year of Deserts and Deser...
LESSONS LEARNT ON SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT IN AFRICA PROJECT CONCLUDES
A workshop on “Sustainable Forest Management in Africa” convened from 18-22 October 2004 in Uppsala, Sweden, to examine case studies on selected experiences of sustainable forest management (SFM) in Africa and the conclusions and recommendations of a previous workshop that met in Nairobi, Kenya from 9-13 February 2004.
The Uppsala meeting represented the final stage of an initiative of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA), the Forestry Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the African Forestry Research Network (AFRONET). The initiative sought to: analyze and establish the lessons learned from positive and negative experiences of various initiatives, projects and programmes aiming at SFM in Sub-Saharan Africa; analyze and establish the ecological, economic, social and other prerequisites for extending positive lessons to wider use; and identify the most urgent issues and concerns for which Africa should give priority in international processes such as the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) and other environment-related conventions and processes, and promote increased African participation in these processes. The outcome of the meeting will be transmitted to the May 2005 session of the UNFF. More information
FAO LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN FORESTRY COMMISSION MEETING
The 23rd session of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (LACFC) convened in San Jose, Costa Rica from 18-22 October 2004.
Agenda items included reviews of FAO regular and field programmes and forestry activities of other international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in the region. Participants also discussed regional issues identified by the Commission for the attention of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO), which will meet in March 2005, and convened in seminars on the “Forestry Sector Outlook Study for Latin American and the Caribbean” and “National Forest Programmes and the International Dialogue on Forests - Strengthening Regional Action.” Side meetings convened for informal discussions on issues including land tenure and integrated rural development, forest law compliance and sustainable forest management (SFM), trade agreements and the role of the forestry sector, strengthening the LACFC as a venue for dialogue on international forest policy issues, and criteria and indicators for SFM. The FAO also presented forecasts that will be included in an outlook study to be published at the end of the year. These forecasts project that the region will see less natural forest cover, but more protected areas and forest plantations, and an increased share of international trade in forest products by 2020. In presenting this report, Merilio Morell, a FAO forestry expert, noted that the “expected changes call for greater participation of communities and local government in forest management, better property rights regulations, improved intra-regional trade, and development of systems for a better flow of information.”
Links to further information
23rd meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Co...
(in Spanish only)
FAO Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission
More protected areas and planted forests in Latin America an...
, FAO news release, 20 October 2004
ASEAN MINISTERS OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY CONSIDER LINKS WITH INTERNATIONAL PROCESSES
The Twenty-sixth Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) convened on 7 October 2004 in Yangon, Myanmar, during which Ministers exchanged views on the global and regional situation and recent economic developments related to the food, agriculture and forestry sector.
During the opening session, Myanmar's Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt said agricultural expansion, urbanization and demand for fuel results in the deforestation of about 37,310 acres annually, but that the Forest Department has planted trees on 74,130 acres annually since 1972 and the government recently launched a programme to conserve the country's teak forest in the central Bago Yoma region. An ENN press release on the meeting notes that an October 2003 report by Global Witness said the government and rebel groups in border areas were cutting down trees at an unsustainable rate.
The Ministers endorsed the Statement from the “Seminar on ASEAN-Japan Cooperation for Sustainable Fisheries through the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC),” which was held on 3-5 December 2003, Tokyo, Japan, including the ASEAN Vision: “To be a leader in Sustainable Tropical Fisheries for the People,” and agreed that ASEAN-Japan cooperation in fisheries through SEAFDEC should be further strengthened. In support of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and in recognition of the International Year of Rice 2004, the Ministers endorsed a ten year, three point plan focussing on the rice production challenges of water scarcity, global warming and inadequate human resources. The Ministers also endorsed the ASEAN statement on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to develop regional solutions to implement CITES, which was presented to the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES on 11 October 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Links to further information
Joint Press Statement
, 7 October 2004
Myanmar leader says more than half of country is forested, ...
, ENN, 8 November 2004
Global Witness' “A Conflict of Interest: The Uncertain Futur...
FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL CELEBRATES ITS FIRST DECADE AND DISCUSSES ITS NEXT TEN YEARS
More than 250 representatives from the social, environmental and economic sectors joined in the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) three-day celebration of its first ten years and discussions to define its next decade.
During the meeting, which took place in Bonn, Germany from 10-13 September 2004, FSC's stakeholders considered strategies, goals and targets, and stressed the importance of making progress with forest certification in tropical forests and increasing the market share for FSC certified products. On the closing day, German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Jürgen Trittin officially opened the FSC's new International Centre in Bonn.
Links to further information
FSC press release, 13 September 2004
FSC press release, 10 September 2004
AD HOC EXPERT GROUP ON CONSIDERATION WITH A VIEW TO RECOMMENDING THE PARAMETERS OF A MANDATE FOR DEVELOPING A LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON ALL TYPES OF FORESTS (AHEG PARAM)
The United Nations Forum on Forests Ad Hoc Expert Group on Consideration with a View to Recommending the Parameters of a Mandate for Developing a Legal Framework on All Types of Forests (AHEG-PARAM) met from 7-10 September 2004, at UN headquarters in New York.
Comprising 68 experts, the Expert Group: assessed existing regional and international binding and non-binding instruments and processes relevant to forests; considered reports prepared by countries, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat and considered the outcomes of previous UNFF sessions; considered other outcomes of the international arrangement on forests (IAF); reviewed experiences of existing forest-related and other relevant organizations and agreements, focusing on complementarities, gaps and duplications; and adopted a report providing a range of options for the future framework to be forwarded to the fifth session of the UNFF (UNFF-5).
Many participants found that the meeting provided an open exchange of views and generated momentum regarding the development of a new IAF. Experts found several areas of common ground and points of convergence regarding the objectives and content of a new IAF, most underlining the need to strengthen the IAF and concerning the implementation of prior commitments. With this in mind, experts identified developing the existing IAF and negotiating a convention or a protocol as options to be considered by UNFF-5 in May 2005. Click here for full coverage by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin
NEGOTIATIONS OF A SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT TO ITTA, 1994
The United Nations Conference on the Negotiation of a Successor Agreement to the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994 met at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from 26-30 July 2004.
The conference was held under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and included over 160 delegates from the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) member countries, one potential member, one intergovernmental organization (IGO), one UN body, as well as members of the Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) and the Trade Advisory Group (TAG) and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Over the course of the five-day meeting, delegates met in two working groups, one dealing specifically with the Preamble and Chapters I-IV and the other with Chapters V-XI of the draft working document (TD/TIMBER.3/4). The negotiations proceeded amicably, although it became clear by Friday morning that more time would be needed to finalize the terms of the new agreement. The main issues that needed further discussion concerned the objectives of the successor agreement and the financial arrangement. During the closing plenary, delegates decided that the Conference would reconvene from 14-18 February 2005, in Geneva. ENB's coverage of this meeting is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/forestry/itto/itta/
Third Science Conference of the Large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia - “LARGEST INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH PROJECT” PROVIDES PLATFORM FOR AMAZON RESEARCH
The Third Science Conference of the Large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) convened from 27-29 July 2004 in Brasilia, Brazil.
Marina Silva, Brazil's Minister of the Environment, opened the meeting, which was attended by over 700 scientists from around the world. LBA has been called the largest international environmental research project ever. It began in 1998 and is expected to continue through 2006. It studies the interaction between the Amazon rainforest and regional and global weather patterns and involves more than 1,000 scientists and specialists from over 100 research institutions.
Among the research results presented during the Third LBA Conference were studies concerning the effects of deforestation on the Amazon River and greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers involved with this study found that deforestation is hurting the tributaries that feed the Amazon River and could threaten the river's main trunk if the trend is not reversed. This four-year study suggests that many of the Amazon's 7,000 tributaries are drying up and fertilizers and pesticides have greatly altered their ecosystems, although researchers found little harm along the Amazon River itself. One of the researchers, Reynaldo Victoria of University of Sao Paulo, said “to save them [tributaries], we only have to follow the law,” which orders farmers not to interfere with the forest within the riparian zones - 165 feet (50 meters) - of any river bank.
Scientists from Brazil's National Institute of Amazon Research said about 400 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent were emitted in 2003 — 60 percent more than one estimate by other scientists at the conference. Philip Fearnside, a researcher at the Institute, said “It's emitting much more than it is absorbing.” He pointed to the need to include methane gas emissions from rotting trees by hydroelectric dams, for example, in his challenge to the view that the Amazon is a small net producer of oxygen. Brazil is expected to publish its inventory of emissions soon, as required by the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Many scientists expect that the inventory will cite 300 million tons for Brazil's total emissions, which would make it one of the world's top ten polluting states. Fearnside's figure would move it up to one of the top five polluting states.
Studies from the Institute of Amazon Research also suggest that about two thirds of carbon dioxide-equivalent produced annually in Brazil come from logging and burning of the Amazon. Researchers from the University of Sao Paolo suggested that the Amazon forest is currently able to absorb greenhouse gases generated by burning parts of the forest, but that will change if deforestation continues to accelerate.
Links to further information
Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia
3rd LBA Conference website
Deforestation Puts Amazon River At Risk, Scientists Say, UN...
Deforestation threatens Amazon river, scientists warn, ENN n...
Amazon fires change weather, speed deforestation, ENN news ...
Amazon burning makes Brazil a leading polluter, ENN news sto...
Estimates of Amazon's greenhouse gas too low, ENN news story...
Amazon Burning Makes Brazil One of Top 10 Polluters, UN Wire...
Burning in Amazon Linked to Accelerating Global Warming, UN ...
The 36th session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-36) met from 20-23 July 2004, in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Delegates to ITTC-36 discussed a range of issues, including: preparations for negotiating a successor agreement to the 1994 International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA, 1994); progress reports on the study of forest law enforcement and governance (FLEG) in Malaysia and Honduras; phased approaches to certification; developments in UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)/Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) discussions regarding forests; and the promotion of sustainable forest management (SFM) in the Congo Basin. Delegates also considered the recommendations of a joint workshop involving the Trade Advisory Group and Civil Society Advisory Group on the issue of illegal logging and illegal trade. In the end, delegates approved 11 projects and seven pre-projects and pledged US$5.7 million in new project funding.
The 34th sessions of the ITTC's Committees on Economic Information and Market Intelligence (CEM), Forest Industry (CFI) and Reforestation and Forest Management (CRF) also met to consider, inter alia: completed projects and pre-projects; ex-post evaluations; projects, pre-projects and activities in progress; and project and pre-project proposals. The fifteenth Committee on Finance and Administration (CFA) met to consider, inter alia: the status of the Administrative Account, the appointment of a new auditor, and resources of the Special Account and the Bali Partnership Fund.
Overall, ITTC-36 can be characterized as a successful meeting. Many delegates noted the significance of the Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG)/Trade Advisory Group (TAG) joint workshop on illegal logging and illegal trade as an historic opportunity for these two groups to work collaboratively on an issue of mutual concern. ITTC-36 proceeded smoothly given that ITTC-35 had taken a decision to limit the decisions taken at ITTC-36 to those of only a routine nature. ITTC-35 had taken this decision for a few reason: first, to minimize the possibility of controversial Council issues that might condition the pending renegotiation and, second, to experiment with how well the Council could function with only one decision-making Council session per year. There is no doubt, however, that more contentious issues, namely ITTO's financial position and scope, will be the subject of debate during the renegotiation of the successor agreement to the ITTA, 1994 to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 26-30 July 2004. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of this meeting is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/forestry/itto/ittc36/
WORKSHOP ON ILLEGAL LOGGING AND ILLEGAL TRADE - TRADE AND CIVIL-SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS RECOMMEND STEPS FOR THE ITTO TO ADDRESS ILLEGAL LOGGING AND TRADE
Seven representatives of the tropical timber trade, under the banner of the ITTC's Trade Advisory Group (TAG), and eight representatives of civil-society organizations within the Council's Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) participated in a Workshop on Illegal Logging and Illegal Trade during ITTC-36 on 19-20 July 2004 in Interlaken, Switzerland.
The results of the workshop were presented to ITTC-36 in Plenary on 22 July.
The workshop report indicates that the TAG and CSAG agreed that illegal logging and illegal trade are major concerns. Participants recommended that additional support be given to ITTO's existing initiatives on trade statistics' discrepancies and that country-level projects be encouraged to promote transparency in the tropical timber trade and access to information. In addition, workshop participants recommended that the ITTO should: conduct an international conference on the transportation of timber products, involving representatives of financial institutions, customs, shipping, and transport sectors, with the view to identifying weaknesses that have allowed for illegal trade; conduct an international conference on indigenous and other community forestry, forest tenure, policy and other regulatory barriers to management and trade, and their relationships to illegal logging and illegal trade; and strengthen and expand the ITTO project window to finance private-sector/civil society partnerships to advance sustainable and legal forest management and trade.
For more information, see the ITTO report of the meeting
, the ENB coverage of the presentation
and the ENB summary of the presentation to ITTC-36 Plenary
First World Congress of Agroforestry HIGHLIGHTS CONTRIBUTION OF AGROFORESTRY TO ACHIEVING MDGs
The First World Congress of Agroforestry: Working Together for Sustainable Land-Use Systems gathered approximately 700 experts from 82 countries in Orlando, Florida from 27 June to 2 July 2004.
In their closing “Orlando Declaration,” participants defined agroforestry as a “dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms, ranches, and in other landscapes, diversifies and increases production and promotes social, economic, and environmental benefits for land users.” They noted that insufficient emphasis has been given to raising awareness among policymakers, natural resource professionals, and farmers regarding the potential of agroforestry and called upon actors at all levels to endorse, use and support agroforestry, particularly in view of the potential for agroforestry systems and technologies to enhance the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The Declaration calls on the international community that supports the UNFF and the biodiversity, desertification and climate change conventions to “endorse the significant role of, and the enormous potentials afforded by agroforestry in accomplishing their targeted objectives and goals.” Finally, the Declaration urges governments to “highlight the role of agroforestry in their poverty eradication strategies, provide funding, and develop policies that promote agroforestry adoption to spark an agroforestry revolution.” For more information visit: http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/wca/
Conference of Ministers in Charge of Central African Forests - funding shortfall stalls PARTNERSHIP INITIATIVE FOR CONGO BASIN FORESTS
Central African forestry officials and representatives from international donors, including the United States, France, Italy, Germany, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the African Development Bank and public and private groups, met from 25-26 June 2004 in Brazzaville, Congo, at a long-delayed meeting to develop a regional strategy for sustainable management of the Central African countries' eco-systems, especially the Congo Basin forest.
The Conference of Ministers in Charge of Central African Forests (COMIFAC) is recognized by the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which was launched at the WSSD, as the central policy- and decision-making body for the conservation and sustainable management of forests in Central Africa. At a COMIFAC meeting held in Paris in January 2003, donors pledged US$300 million for a regional forestry strategy and agreed to meet in Brazzaville within three months. The Brazzaville meeting finally took place in June 2004, but it failed to establish a mechanism to fund an estimated $US 1.5 billion over the next 10 years. In addition, no new funding was announced and no one way of delivering funds to the COMIFAC effort was approved by donors. Several financing mechanisms have been discussed, including the creation of a common fund for the Congo Basin environment, the conversion of African nations' debt into credits for conservation projects, and special taxes to be levied locally for conservation projects. The Congo Basin nations - Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon - have pledged 40% of the funding, but wish for the rest of the financing to come from partnerships with donor countries, NGOs and industry.
Links to further information
Terra Daily news story, 27 June 2004
Mail and Guardian story, 28 June 2004
GEF NGO Consultation and Council Meeting Convene
May 2004: Convening from 19-21 May 2004, in Washington, DC, the GEF Council approved its work programme, endorsing US$233.5 million in grants for 25 projects. The total value of the projects amount to US$980.7 million with cofinancing of $3 for every $1 approved. The Council also approved decisions on the: appointment of the Monitoring and Evaluation Director and Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit; terms of reference for the GEF's third Overall Performance Study; institutional relations; performance based allocation framework; corporate budget for the 2005 fiscal year; and LDC Trust Fund Budget.
On the Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, the Council recognized the high potential for renewable energy projects in developing countries and requested that the GEF Secretariat (GEFSEC), the Implementing Agencies and the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit examine the barriers that might be impeding the success of renewable energy projects, and propose a strategy to address those barriers.
On institutional relations, the Council addressed relations with, inter alia, the UNFCCC, CBD, CCD and UNEP. Responding to the CBD decision on expanded eligibility for certain capacity building activities related to biosafety, the Council recommended that the GEFSEC develop procedures ensuring that GEF financing leads to ratification of the Cartagena Protocol. The GEFSEC and UNEP were requested to organize consultations of regional scientists and technical experts to provide advice on the project for building capacity for participation in the biosafety clearinghouse of the Cartagena Protocol. The Council also requested the GEF to inform the next Council meeting of proposals to respond to CBD decision VII/20, which requests the GEF to support the implementation of the programme of work on protected areas and in particular to “support country driven early action by continuing to streamline its procedures and the provision of fast disbursing resources through expedited means.”
Regarding land degradation, the GEFSEC was requested to prepare a note on the allocations foreseen under the land degradation focal area as well as allocations to land degradation through the other GEF focal areas and to prepare an analysis of the scope, implementation focus and coherence of the land degradation activities for the next Council meeting in November 2004. Regarding CCD Decision 6/COP.6 on a MoU to facilitate collaboration between the GEF and the CCD, the Council requested the CEO to submit a draft of the MoU, including a clarification of the roles of the Global Mechanism and the GEF, to the Council for its review and comment. On POPs, the GEFSEC was requested to review its priorities for financing under the POPs focal area to ensure that they are consistent with the priorities of the Stockholm Convention and national implementation plans.
Recognizing the GEF's contribution to the work of a number of ongoing processes, the GEF was encouraged to continue participating in the deliberations of the CSD, the UNFF and the International Meeting for the ten year review of the BPOA for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.
The GEF Council functions as an independent board of directors responsible for developing, adopting, and evaluating GEF programmes. Representing 32 constituencies (16 from developing countries, 14 from developed countries, and two from countries with economies in transition), the Council meets twice a year for three days. [http://www.thegef.org/gef/meetingdocs/97/59
The fourth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF-4) was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 3–14 May 2004.
Over 600 delegates representing governments, intergovernmental organizations and major groups were in attendance. Throughout the two-week meeting, delegates considered progress in implementation with respect to the following thematic areas: social and cultural aspects of forests; traditional forest-related knowledge; forest-related scientific knowledge; finance and transfer of environmentally sound technologies; and monitoring, assessment and reporting and criteria and indicators. The Forum also considered issues common to each UNFF session, including: enhanced cooperation and coordination with other international organizations; and intersessional work.
As with other UNFF sessions, delegates to UNFF-4 convened a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue, during which the Major Groups participating in the UNFF process gathered with country delegations and international organizations to discuss the social and cultural aspects of forests and traditional forest-related knowledge. Unique to UNFF-4, delegates also spent two half-day sessions considering country experiences and lessons learned. One session was focused on African countries, and the other on small island developing states. Particular emphasis was given to negotiating a resolution on the process for facilitating the review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests at UNFF-5.
UNFF-4 adopted five resolutions on: social and cultural aspects of forests; forest-related scientific knowledge; monitoring, assessment and reporting and criteria and indicators; finance and transfer of environmentally sound technologies; and the review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests. Delegates failed to adopt resolutions on traditional forest-related knowledge and enhanced cooperation. ENB's full coverage of this meeting, including daily and summary reports, photographs and Real Audio recordings, is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/forestry/unff/unff4/
INTERLAKEN WORKSHOP ON DECENTRALIZATION: FEDERAL SYSTEMS IN FORESTRY AND NATIONAL FOREST PROGRAMMES
The Interlaken Workshop on Decentralization, Federal Systems in Forestry and National Forest Programmes (the Interlaken Workshop) convened in Interlaken, Switzerland from 27-30 April 2004.
This country-led initiative in support of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) brought together over 150 participants representing local, state, provincial and national governments, international and non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Participants sought to find ways to improve the quality of “on the ground” forest-related activities and discussed questions regarding the balance between centralization and decentralization, with a special focus on problems that occur during transitional phases of the decentralization processes. Based on input from six working groups, participants drafted and revised a report of the meeting, which was forwarded to UNFF-4 at its 3-14 May 2004 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Full coverage of the Workshop can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/forest/sdlak
Second Earth Observation Summit
The framework for a plan to establish a global earth monitoring system has been approved by governments and international agencies at a meeting in Tokyo.
The second Earth Observation Summit, held on 25 April, saw agreement on a framework for a ten-year Implementation Plan to share a range of data that will improve our understanding of the earth's systems, including its weather, climate, oceans, geology, ecosystems and natural and human-induced disasters.
The benefits mentioned in the framework extend to “expanding worldwide capacity and means to achieve sustainable development.” The framework highlights shortcomings of the existing observation systems and outlines the characteristics needed for an effective Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that will be able to monitor disaster reduction, climate change, integrated water resources management, air quality, biodiversity conservation, and invasive species among other key environmental data. The framework states that the implementation of the Implementation Plan will require a “ministerial-guided successor mechanism with maximum flexibility” in the form of an intergovernmental group for Earth observations.
The plan builds on a Declaration adopted in July 2003 that made a political commitment to work towards developing a comprehensive observation system. A third Earth Observation Summit is slated for February 2005. More information on the Tokyo meeting is available from the Earth Observations website: http://earthobservations.org/
and the framework document is available at: http://earthobservations.org/docs/Framework%20Doc%20Final.pd...
International Conference on Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests: Private Sector Experiences
The International Conference on Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests: Private Sector Experiences, a joint initiative of the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), convened from 13-15 April 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Attended by approximately 150 representatives from logging companies, community organizations, governments and NGOs, the conference reviewed private-sector experiences in sustainable forest management (SFM) in the tropics and discussed ways that success stories could be expanded to other companies and community groups. The conference was the culmination of a three-year ITTO-funded project searching for private-sector success stories in the three tropical regions of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The project sent questionnaires to 1766 concession-holders and other timber-harvesting entities to gauge their awareness of, commitment to and success in implementing SFM, from which 206 responses were received and compiled at the regional level. Fourteen detailed case-studies were also developed to closely examine efforts by companies towards SFM and identify the conditions that enable and constrain such efforts at the local level.
Among the obstacles to SFM identified by companies were: decreasing donor contributions to SFM; illegal logging and illegal trade of timber products; unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, such as overlapping regulations between state, federal and other government levels; corruption; and the generally short-term nature of timber concessions. Regional summaries and the 14 case studies will be published later this year. For more information, see the ITTO press release http://www.itto.or.jp/live/PageDisplayHandler?pageId=217&...
PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR UNFF EXPERT GROUP ON PARAMETERS FOR A LEGAL FRAMEWORK
UN Member States convened on 13 April 2004 at UN Headquarters in New York for informal consultations in preparation for the September 2004 ad hoc expert group meeting on consideration with a view to recommending the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests.
The UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat informed Member States about preparations for the meeting and participants engaged in a short exchange of views on how the meeting should be conducted. A compilation of views submitted for the September meeting was distributed and circulated, and will be available on the UNFF website. Participants also discussed how to facilitate selection of the co-chairs for the meeting. More information is available at: http://www.un.org/esa/forests/adhoc-legal.html
Workshop ON FORESTS AND FOREST ECOSYSTEMS: PROMOTING SYNERGY IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE THREE RIO CONVENTIONS
A workshop was held recently to promote local actions on forests and forest ecosystems and develop synergistic processes in this sector in order to contribute to more effective implementation of the Rio conventions.
Held from 5-7 April 2004, in Viterbo, Italy, this workshop was organized by the Secretariats of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in cooperation with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
On Monday, participants heard presentations by the Rio conventions' secretariats, and considered presentations and country case studies on Theme I, 'Potential for synergies through forest landscape management and soil conservation,' and on Theme II, 'Ecosystem services and poverty reduction.' On Tuesday, participants convened in eight working groups on synergy at the local level. On the last day, delegates listened to a presentation on and discussed the outcomes of the working groups, exchanged views on synergy among Rio conventions focal point representatives, discussed financing for synergy and adopted the workshop's report. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/desert/cwfee/
EXPERT CONSULTATION ON CRITERIA AND INDICATORS FOR SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT (ECCI-2004)
An international expert consultation on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management gathered nearly 50 experts from over 30 countries in Cebu City, the Philippines from 2-4 March 2004.
Participants developed recommendations on how to enhance the implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (C&I), including improving liaison and communication between C&I processes and promoting common understanding of terms. Once finalized, the meeting report will be posted on the meeting's sponsors' web sites (ITTO and FAO). The meeting's host and chair, the Government of the Philippines, will present the report at various international fora, including the May UNFF-4 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see: http://www.itto.or.jp/live/PageDisplayHandler?pageId=223&...
GLOBAL WORKSHOP ON TRANSFER OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND TECHNOLOGIES AND CAPACITY BUILDING FOR SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT
The Global Workshop on the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies and Capacity Building for Sustainable Forest Management, a country led initiative hosted by the Government of the Republic of Congo in support of the work of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), convened in Brazzaville from 23-27 February 2004.
The meeting was attended by 72 official representatives of 49 countries and 19 representatives of international organizations and major groups.
The Workshop developed recommendations for action at the international and national levels to improve the framework for environmentally sound technologies (EST) transfer and capacity building. These recommendations include calls for enhanced technical and financial assistance in EST transfer and capacity building to all stakeholders groups, including civil society organizations and communities, and for governments and stakeholders to promote open access and exchange of information related to EST transfer, adoption and implementation. The report of the Workshop will be submitted to the fourth session of the UNFF, to be held in Geneva in May, for its consideration. The report can be accessed at: http://www.un.org/esa/forests/pdf/cli/brazzafinalreport.pdf