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MINISTERIAL GROUP ON FORESTS

The Ministerial Group on Forests, co-chaired by Ministers from the Netherlands and Tanzania, met in the morning to discuss follow-up actions in this area. Countries outlined their support for one of three options: establishing an INC right away; setting up an intergovernmental forum on forests that would “elaborate elements of and build consensus for” an INC by 1999; or establishing a forum that would “consider the need for...a legally binding instrument by 1999.” Those supporting the establishment of an INC noted that, while the two-year IPF process was useful in clarifying key issues, more concrete action is now needed. Deforestation trends are worse since Rio, and the world is waiting for UNGASS to signal a real commitment to stem deforestation. Some who supported an INC noted that financing for a convention remained an essential question requiring further discussion.

Those opposing the establishment of an INC at this stage emphasized that the need for a convention was not yet clear. Instead, the clear need is to implement the IPF recommendations for action. These countries called for an intergovernmental forum to oversee the implementation of IPF recommendations, and to include within its mandate issues such as trade, financing and technology transfer, which were left pending by IPF. It would also examine whether an INC was necessary, and/or build consensus for it, and would report to the CSD by 1999. Following this discussion, the Co-Chairs prepared a summary of the discussion, as well as a new Co-Chairs’ proposal for follow-up. This proposal outlined a two-step process, including the establishment of a forum to report to the CSD by 1999, and a reconsideration of the question of a convention at that time, based upon the outcome of the first stage. Discussion on this document was postponed until the next Ministerial Group meeting, to be held Thursday morning. The contact group on forests met briefly in the afternoon, but decided to await the outcome of the Ministers’ Thursday meeting before reconvening.