In informal discussions on Tuesday, a developing country said sections of the proposal defining responsibilities of the CSD panel were problematic, especially regarding a legally binding instrument. A developed country delegate said a weak or overly general statement could undermine the credibility of ministers and the FAO and could question the utility of the meeting. He asked whether delegates were willing to commit FAO forestry suicide, and warned that if issues where consensus did not exist were not dealt with here, they would be addressed elsewhere. A developing country regional group expressed concern at the omission of difficulties since Rio and the need to support national forest programmes. The first developing country mentioned above said the elements should include continued work on the Forest Principles, development, application and convergence of C & I, non-discriminatory trade, financial resources and transfer of technology, capacity building for developing countries and a concerted effort in the greening of the world. He said the CSD panel would have to be addressed at the CSD meeting, but that the group could send a message. Wednesday the Chair formed a small contact group including representatives from the regional groups. The contact group met Wednesday and Thursday, producing a new draft Thursday morning titled The Rome Statement on Forestry. It included a series of priorities from the ministerial meeting, and a statement that regarding the controversial idea of a legally binding instrument on forests, the way forward should be based on consensus-building in a step-by-step process. On the CSD panel, the draft utilized language from the COFO report, recommending that the FAO should respond positively and be prepared to participate.
The first meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry was held in Rome at FAO Headquarters from 16-17 March 1995, immediately following the Twelfth Session of the Committee on Forestry. Following opening remarks from the Director General of FAO, Mr. Jacques Diouf, and the election of officers, the meeting heard statements from several dozen ministers, two UN agencies, and NGOs. In parallel to the Plenary session, a drafting group met non-stop throughout the first day, late into the night and earnestly during the following morning to finalize a declaration that was approved by the Ministers at mid-day.
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