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PANEL DISCUSSION ON SECTORAL ISSUES

Franz Fischler, European Commissioner for Agriculture, said that forestry, agriculture and sustainable development are funding priorities for the EU. The EU endorses the establishment of a forestry panel to: prepare a worldwide consensus on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; develop a framework for certification of forest products; and examine the feasibility of a legally-binding instrument.

Graham Blight, President of IFAP, said: farmers are major stakeholders in land use and management; there are success stories in sustainable rural and agricultural development; voluntary action is effective; capacity and institution building in farmers' organizations to ensure representation and partnership with governments are essential; continued research is essential; a focus on agriculture is necessary to ensure economic viability; and coherence in policy orientation is essential.

David Harcharick, Assistant Director-General of FAO, said that land-use strategies will be more effective if they are carried out with the participation of the land users. As population pressures grow and land degradation continues, land-use related conflicts will become more widespread. Food security, which is the most vital of human needs, is often a prerequisite for development. On forests, he called for close collaboration between the UN system, institutions and NGOs. He highlighted the importance of the cross-sectoral nature of the forestry issue.

John Falloon, Minister of Forestry of New Zealand and Chair of the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Forestry, highlighted the six points of agreement at the March Ministerial Meeting: the cross-sectoral relationship between biodiversity, agricultural sustainability and trade; the need for the development of sustainability indicators; the need for financial and technical assistance; the importance of recognizing the benefits of forestry to nations and communities; the need for a voluntary process for certification of forest products; and trade access.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, UNEP Executive Director, highlighted several key messages from the Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties in Berlin: scientific research is now sufficiently convincing to invoke the precautionary principle; commitments must be kept; creative and effective mechanisms are needed to ensure successful implementation; and the range of constituencies must be expanded.

In the discussion that followed, the President of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (Peru) presented the report of the workshop on criteria and indicators for sustainability of the Amazonian Forests, which took place in Tarapoto, Peru, in February 1995. The NGO Working Group on Forests called on the CSD to: address the underlying macroeconomic causes of deforestation; review timber over-consumption patterns; address the undue influence of the timber industry; eliminate destructive forestry practices; and ensure that UN agency policies do not promote unsustainable forestry.

Other issues raised in the discussion include: the development of global scientific indicators; the need to set priorities for the forestry panel; how changes in production and consumption patterns can promote sustainable forest management; the links between the biodiversity and desertification conventions; ordinary and dryland afforestation in mitigating climate change and improving biodiversity; the linkages between water and land management; the relationship between land use and urbanization; and education.

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