The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Global Forests (the word "global" was subsequently dropped from the title), jointly organized and sponsored by the Governments of Canada and Malaysia, was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 18-21 April 1994. Approximately 100 representatives from 15 governments, as well as several IGOs and NGOs, attended the meeting. The objective of this session was to begin a series of meetings of experts and officials from key forest countries to facilitate dialogue and consolidation of approaches to the management, conservation and sustainable development of the world's forests. The participants discussed five issue papers: (a) forest conservation, enhancing forest cover and the role of forests in meeting basic human needs; (b) criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; (c) trade and environment; (d) approaches to mobilizing financial resources and technology transfer; and (e) institutional linkages. At this meeting, particularly in response to concerns from the non-governmental sector, two additional issues were identified as needing further consideration: (f) participation and transparency in forest management; and (g) comprehensive cross-sectoral integration, including land use planning and management and the influence of policies external to the traditional forest sector.
The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Forests (IWGF) was convened in Hull, Canada, from 10-14 October 1994. Interest in this process had grown between the two sessions and participation in the second meeting was expanded to cover technical and policy experts from 32 countries including Brazil, the US, Indonesia, Finland, Sweden, the Russian Federation, Japan, Gabon, five intergovernmental organizations and 11 NGOs. During the five days of meetings the participants met in two working groups to discuss the seven issue papers. The Rapporteur responsible for each of the discussion papers produced a synthesis document that included the key points raised in debate and a set of approaches, options and opportunities for each of the topics. While the syntheses documents do not represent a consensus, the final report of the meeting notes that they take into account the wide range of views expressed on many of the complex forest issues.
The final report from this session will be presented to the CSD. Some of the options in the final document include: the CSD should consider appropriate arrangements and means to foster greater dialogue and coordination; the FAO should convene meetings of forest ministers on a regular basis; nations should build on the Model Forest Sites initiative; the CSD could encourage an appropriate body to undertake a series of studies; the CSD could expand the guidelines for country reports on forests to include approaches to participation in forest management; and countries should continue the work done in various processes to develop criteria and indicators for the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
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