FAO: The Director-General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, welcomed the Ministers and introduced the new head of the Forestry Department, Mr. David Harcharik. He recognized the range of recent forest-related initiatives but noted that they should be placed in a proper framework. He said that the Ministerial meeting was an adequate forum since they were the highest governmental authority and are entrusted with the responsibility to commit governments in international discussions on forestry. He considered it important that this group meet regularly. Diouf called the major challenge to sustain the multiple functions of forests and trees, including to protect the soil and water base for agriculture and, therefore for food security. FAO is calling for a new "green revolution", learning from mistakes in the past to adapt scientifically and make it more compatible with ecological balance and address issues of social equity. He said that FAO"s programmes would improve coordination between sectors in order to pursue consistent approaches. Diouf said that FAO is under renewal, becoming more efficient, consolidating field operation, decentralizing, investing in communication technologies to facilitate access to information and strengthening partnerships with other institutions, the private sector, IGOs, NGOs, donors and the World Bank on the basis of respective comparative advantages. FAO has increased its financial commitment to forestry by 2% during the 1994-1995 biennium. On post- UNCED forestry, he noted areas where less progress had been made including: insufficient consensus on forest issues; slow progress towards agreement on attributes of sustainable forest management and associated criteria and indicators for measuring progress towards its achievement; continued use of environment-related unilateral restriction on international trade in forest products; and lack of clear position on whether the Forest Principles should remain as they are or evolve further. Regarding cooperation with the CSD, he noted the recommendation of the Ad-Hoc Intersessional Working Group of the CSD but asked Ministers to consider the implications of this recommendation on agency responsibilities, particularly in regard to substituting the CSD for mandates entrusted by Member States to the agencies. He hoped that the Ministers would provide guidance to FAO and orient the review and decisions of the CSD in the right direction.
The meeting elected the Chair, Mr. John Falloon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Racing of New Zealand, and the Vice-Chairs. Falloon proposed that the NGOs allowed to attend the COFO be invited to attend the Ministerial session. This was adopted without debate. The Chair then proposed that Ministers would table copies of their speeches allowing time to engage in a discussion on achieving a result of the conference. He proposed the establishment of a working group that would work in parallel to the Plenary to draft a statement that would give clear guidance to the CSD at its Third Session. The meeting then heard a report from Mr. Valentine (New Zealand), Chair of the COFO, which summarized the Twelfth Session of the Committee. (see above).
PRIVATE SECTOR: Bo Wergens, Chair of the Swedish Forest Industries Association, spoke on behalf of the private forest industry sector. He reported on the meeting held the previous week between the private sector and FAO, noting that they are committed to helping FAO carry out its work related to the Forest Principles and endorsed FAO"s role as task manager. He called for a study of supply trends through 2010. Certification is a market tool to promote sustainable forest management, but it should be practical, transparent, verifiable, measurable, agreed on a voluntary basis and applied at the local level. He said that non-discriminatory trade policies are necessary to achieve sustainable forest management and that the forest industry is the driving force in giving value added to forest lands by applying sustainable forestry.
NGOs: Miguel Lovera (IUCN Netherlands), speaking on behalf of a variety of national and international NGOs, expressed concern that high-level FAO policy decisions have, in some cases, undermined effective on-the-ground NGO-FAO collaboration and that FAO has failed to build a broad-based consultative mechanism on forestry issues, in some countries, at the local level. Combating deforestation requires a resolution of conflicts of interests in favor of marginalized groups and through the full recognition of indigenous peoples" rights to their territories. He noted elements from the report on the Meeting with NGOs on Forestry, held in Rome on 10- 11 March 1995 (COFO-95/2 Supp. 6) that decision-making on forests in the CSD process should not be the responsibility of any single UN agency and that the UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) should be the focal point for coordinating a working panel on forests. Lovera expressed concern that FAO was seeking a mandate to harmonize the criteria and indicators processes and the possible development of a forest convention based on this harmonization. NGOs strongly opposed the idea that Minister"s might recommend delegating the responsibility of resolving forest product trade and environment issues to WTO, ITTO and FAO since GATT and WTO have no record of allowing NGO and other major groups" participation.
(Editor"s note: Despite the best intentions of the Chair, many Ministers could not resist the temptation to read from prepared speeches. The following are highlights taken from some of both the delivered statements and tabled texts.)
THAILAND: The Minister praised efforts of the global community in seeking sustainable forest management and noted that problems cannot be resolved on an ad hoc basis or isolated from other socio-economic problems. He urged the World Bank to speed up funding mechanisms and urged the international partners to help countries with national forest action plans (NFAPs).
HUNGARY: The Minister said that FAO should quickly implement the recommendations of COFO and that both the Helsinki and Strasbourg Ministerial Conferences correctly determined the necessary first steps for implementing the forest principles. He called attention to FAO"s coordinating role.
JAPAN: Yoshio Yatsu, Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries acknowledged that the CSD Intersessional decision to establish an open-ended inter- governmental panel reflects the strong interest of the international community toward the forestry issues. Effective measures with the best present knowledge need to be carried out on the ground while discussion on future directions takes place. He recommended testing of a conceptual framework of sustainable forest management in a demonstration project by FAO in collaboration with ITTO, UNDP and UNDP.
FRANCE: Speaking on behalf of the EU, France said it is important that the discussions on forests at the CSD be held at the highest level, where it will be decided if a real global partnership for forests is initiated. The EU has undertaken concrete action in the form of criteria and indicators. It is indispensable to start the process of harmonization of criteria and indicators, based on the convergence of initiatives. Timber certification should be regarded as an important instrument for sustainable forest management. The EU feels an indispensable need to examine the feasibility of a legally-binding instrument on forests that would guarantee a holistic approach and that this process should occur within the aegis of the CSD. FAO should help to set up this panel and contribute.
INDIA: Kamal Nath, India"s Minister of the Environment, said that forests are more than mere carbon sinks but are interwoven into the lives of people. He noted India"s initiatives including the first ministerial conference from developing countries, that produced the Delhi Declaration, as well as hosting with FAO and the UK a national workshop that resulted in producing a national reporting framework for the CSD. He said he looked to FAO to play its rightful role and that if we have to change its mandate, let us do it, since forests can not be just and adjunct to agriculture. He stressed the vital importance of non-wood forest products and offered to host a center for forestry research.
MALAYSIA: Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, Minister of Primary Industries of Malaysia, urged the delegates not to posture but adopt any necessary paradigm shifts to ensure prioritized action to put the global agenda on track by forging a clear consensus to facilitate decision-making at the upcoming CSD. We should focus on the need to implement existing commitments. The links between trade and deforestation should be discarded since 83% of tropical deforestation is for fuel and other non- industrial uses. Poverty eradication and better farming practices should be given high priority in multi-sectoral solutions to deforestation. Global action should be predicated on an equitable, holistic approach covering all types of forests. He outlined a set of principles for the ongoing international processes, including balance between environmental protection and the need for development and sustainable use, the sovereign right of nations to utilize their resources to promote balanced sustainable development and the urgent need for a forum for internationally agreed criteria and indicators covering all types of forests. Regarding FAO he said that the organization may need a paradigm shift to keep its role as the lead UN agency for forestry including strengthening its Forestry Department, rectify the problem of forestry being treated as an adjunct to food and agriculture and prove its ability to provide new leadership and expertise. The ball is in FAO"s court.
PAKISTAN: The Minister commended FAO for keeping up momentum on the process. He said that what is needed is sincere commitment, firm conviction and willingness to share resources with those who have little but deserve more.
ALGERIA: In a time of major political and social changes, resource allocations have been committed to meeting basic needs and this has hurt forest development. Financial assistance is needed in transition from state managed to market economy in protecting forest lands.
MYANMAR: The multifunctional role of all types of forests should be recognized. Myanmar has only received support from UNDP of late and he said that environmental concerns should transcend politics.
MACEDONIA: The Minister noted that Macedonia has over 900,000 hectares of forest that are in the process of being privatized. The three year drought has damaged forests. He said that in Macedonia there is a saying, "If you like to destroy the population, destroy their forests first."
CANADA: Anne McLellan, Minister of Natural Resources reported on the outcome of the Montreal Process and successes in Canada, including the formulation of a national forest strategy, the establishment of ten model forests and the nearly completed national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. She noted the various initiatives and said that the momentum must continue. Regarding the importance of developing a global framework for sustainable development she said: that FAO has a role to play in assisting the development of criteria and indicators; the process of developing these should include more countries; there is a need for greater international consensus on voluntary, non-legislated schemes for certification of forest products; national forestry action plans are valuable and the processes should be open and inclusive; there is a need for reliable and timely information on the state of forests to help guide policy; and, there should be more coordination between UN agencies in shared leadership on forest issues. Canada supports the establishment of the CSD panel as an important body that can help bring together a number of separate regional and global initiatives in a cohesive and coordinated international approach to further the forest dialogue.
FINLAND: The Minister highlighted the outcomes of the Helsinki Ministerial Conference the follow-up meetings. Finland supports the establishment of the CSD panel, saying that it should make use of an existing post-UNCED foundation and be open to further contributions from possible new initiatives from individual governments. Finland supports the establishment of a global convention on forests in order to help mobilize and integrate both national and international resources for the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. FAO has a role to play in the CSD panel and simultaneously the increased openness and transparency in the work of FAO should be further encouraged. The international community should take advantage of FAO"s expertise in global forest resource assessment and national capacity building. The regional forestry commissions should be strengthened.
PORTUGAL: The representative mentioned the role Portugal had played in the Helsinki Process. Portugal fully supports the development of an international process for full convergence of the criteria and indicators on all types of forests.
BRAZIL: Dr. Gustavo Krause, Minister of the Environment, Water Resources and the Environment, noted the development of Brazil"s forest policy. He said that the rate of Amazon deforestation had been reduced by 50%. He praised the Forest Principles and called their implementation a considerable challenge. The debate on forests cannot overshadow the equally important analysis of other trans-sectoral issues such as the urban environment, the need for changes in consumption and production patterns and the transfer of new and additional resources and the access to environmentally sound technologies. There is no consensus yet on the opportunity for starting now a negotiation toward a legally binding instrument on forests. Brazil supports and encourages the establishment of an Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, subordinate to the CSD. Among the panels" tasks should be: reviewing the scientific and technical questions; accessing actions already taken; and harmonizing the various efforts for the definition of criteria and indicators. FAO should: contribute, with UNEP and UNDP, to the work of the CSD; publish transparent and reliable data on environmental issues related to forests; establish agreements with national and regional bodies; identify financial resources to foster research and produce technical studies on the relationship between forests and other issues related to sustainable development.
UNITED KINGDOM: The representative noted the UK"s commitment to UNCED and the forest principles through its participation in the Helsinki Ministerial Conference, the UK policies and actions for sustainable forest management and their role in the Indo-British Workshop. The UK supports setting up the CSD Panel, which should work in a pragmatic, non-confrontational and transparent way, supported by FAO and UNEP. He made suggestions for important issues to be included in the panel"s mandate, including: review of progress of the Forest Principles; bringing together work on criteria and indicators; certification and labeling of wood products; identify further action including - but not prejudging - the possibility of a legally binding instrument.
INDONESIA: The Minister of Forestry of Indonesia spoke of his country"s forest policy, including the development of large scale plantation forest as an alternative to reduce pressure on natural forests as well improving timber harvesting and log conversion efficiencies. Developing countries should have better access to financial flows, environmentally sound technology and markets. He called for more science-based initiatives that draw on the outcome of the CIFOR/Indonesia dialogue, held in Bali in December 1994. We need to provide advice to the CSD, emphasizing the importance of benefit sharing and mutual responsibility.
AUSTRALIA: The Australian Minister for Resources hoped that the meeting would build on consensus achieved to date in developing FAO"s contribution to the CSD and shaping and enhancing FAO"s efforts and activities on forests. He urged FAO to widen the participation of relevant agencies and NGOs in its deliberations and consultations at all levels including the ministerial meetings. Australia participated in the Montreal Process and is encouraged by the potential for the CSD to consider this work and promote harmonization between the existing sets of criteria and indicators. Australia would consider hosting an international meeting to discuss certification and labeling.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Dr. K. Rowley, Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fishery Resources expressed disappointment at the response for financial support to TFAP/NFAP and other national initiatives. Criteria and indicators should be tested at the national level. It is premature to tamper with the Forest Principles and Trinidad and Tobago does not support the revival of a legally binding instrument on forests at this time. They support the establishment of the CSD Panel on Forests and that FAO would provide technical support. FAO should not be intimidated by NGOs that have trouble accepting the inherent value of a structured process and widened participation must be very clear and only arrived at after appropriate consultation. FAO should increase its field programmes, particularly in the implementation of TFAP/NFAP.
NORWAY: The Norwegian Minister of Agriculture, Ms. Gunhild "yangen, said that future activities should be coordinated through a process ensuring participation of all countries concerned and all stakeholders including indigenous peoples, women, the private sector and NGOs. Interlinkages should be taken into account between sustainable forest management and poverty, population, economic policies, biological diversity and climate change. Norway supports the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental panel under the aegis of the CSD, to work in a transparent manner, drawing on the expertise of UN and other organizations, the secretariats of relevant conventions, the private sector and other interest groups. FAO should develop the global forest resource assessment into a continuous process and highlight the importance of forests through full valuation of all goods and services derived from them.
SWEDEN: The representative of Sweden said that it is now time to translate the Forest Principles into action. The causes of deforestation are found outside the forest sector, in population and trade. Sweden hopes that the panel created at CSD will be action oriented and will identify causes of deforestation, ways to implement national action plans and ways to strengthen action at the national level. The FAO Forest Department should focus on information gathering, capacity building, policy formulation and support for national forest action plans.
US: The representative of the US Department of Agriculture said that they are committed to sustainable forest management in the US by the year 2000. She said that the US uses ecosystem management on federal lands with full recognition of the social and economic functions of forests. The intergovernmental panel is a potentially effective forum to explore the issues of timber certification and global criteria and indicators and would be less time consuming than starting a negotiating process. The US supports FAO taking a role as requested by the CSD.
CHINA: Developed countries have not been provided the resources and transfer of technology and this has left them with considerable challenges. Developed countries must be held responsible for forest exploitation and they are obliged to pay and to provide technical assistance. FAO should play a pivotal role.
FIJI: The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Ratu Ovini Bokini, highlighted Fiji"s initiatives toward sustainable forest management and acknowledged the support and assistance that his country has received from FAO in the past. He urged FAO to support to the South Pacific Forestry Development Programme.
BURKINA FASO: The Minister of Burkina Faso urged the international community to launch a effort to stop the process of deforestation in the Sahel.
CUBA: The representative of Cuba said that the need for scientific and technical input cannot be underestimated and that FAO should continue to provide training. Regarding criteria and indicators, the representative noted that they should take into account the priorities and economic growth and ecological sustainability of developing countries. He added that it is necessary to stimulate growth in official aid to development of the forest sector.
MALAWI: K. K. Chambalo, Minister of Natural Resources of Malawi, spoke of Malawi"s achievements including the Malawi Environmental Action Plan, the Environmental Monitoring Programme and the national forestry policy review. He supports FAO"s initiative to open an office to strengthen its obligations in the Easter- Southern Africa Sub-Region.
PHILLIPINES: The Minister said that more attention needs to be given to the cross-sectoral issues, such as population and consumption and production. All the financial recommendation made in Rio need to be implemented. The developed countries benefited from the destruction of the developing country lands and now must assist them. Timber certification at the local level should be encouraged but not at the national or international level. The Philippines supports the role of FAO as the major task manager for forest-related activities.
IRAN: The representative said that decisions that are taken here should be implemented and not depend on decisions at other meetings.
UGANDA: The Minister of natural Resources, B.K. L. Mulondo of Uganda said that that timber from Uganda forests can be said to be from sustainably managed forest sources. The refugee problem results in deforestation and he requested UNHCR to consider the deforestation problem from refugees along side other needs.
CROATIA: Mr. Ivica Gasi, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry noted his country"s readiness to implement sustainable management and forest protection measures by signing the Strasbourg and Helsinki Resolutions.
THE NETHERLANDS: The representative urged the group to focus on areas of agreement. NFAPs are the most appropriate tools in the planning process leading towards forest development. He hoped that UNDP and FAO would maintain their commitment to, and responsibility for, NFAP by strengthening the existing structures. The CSD panel should consist of government representatives with a little help from our friends the NGOs. One option for the panel would be a legally binding instrument on Forests. Governments are being overtaken by private initiatives regarding certification systems.
TANZANIA: The Minister for Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment supported FAO to work closely and build partnerships with other international organizations and agencies. He supported the idea that a legally binding instrument on forests be based on consensus-building in a step-by-step process.
VENEZUELA: Amb. Fernando Gerbasi, Representative of Venezuela to FAO, spoke on his country"s efforts in sustainable forest management. He said that international cooperation is essential for Venezuela"s national strategies in implementation of national forestry programmes. He said new additional financial resources and the provision of technologies on favorable terms is essential.
POLAND: Andrzej Szujecki, Undersecretary of State from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry of Poland, spoke on recent national initiatives including the Law of Forests, the Programme of the Polish Policy for Sustainable Forest Management Development, the establishment of a new Forest Center for Environmental Education, seven Forest Promotion Complexes and expanded research.
CYPRUS: Amb. Fotis G. Poulides spoke on Cyprus" forests and his country"s programme of sustainable forest management. The Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment has started taking steps towards the preparation of a national plan within the framework of the Mediterranean Action Programme.
DENMARK: The representative welcomed and supported the recommendation of the CSD Intersessional Working Group on Sectoral Issues to establish an open-ended, intergovernmental panel on forests. FAO should play an important role in cooperation with other UN organizations, secretariats of international conventions dealing with forest-related issues and other relevant organizations, including NGOs.
SOUTH AFRICA: The Minister said that South Africa was looking for regional cooperation on forest plantation development and needed assistance in arid zone forestry. He offered South Africa"s expertise and research in eucalyptus plantations.
CZECH REPUBLIC: The representative agreed that certification could be used as a marketing tool but should not be used as a basis for trade discrimination.
ECUADOR: The representative said that Ecuador is working on the accounting and monitoring of natural resources and that it is a good idea to continue development indicators at the national level. He requested modification of World Bank policies on reforestation of tropical forests.
UNEP: UNEP"s representative said that UNEP would assist FAO to support and backstop the work of the proposed CSD panel. The UNEP Governing Council would be asked to work with FAO and others to work with others in cooperation with the CSD body.
WWF: The representative of WWF said that we need to look at what international agreements address the forest to see if they are being implemented. WWF endorses the establishment of the proposed CSD panel, but only if it is: more than a "talk-shop"; addresses the issues; and is participatory and open. Certification should be voluntary and independent.
ITTO: Dr. B.C.Y. Freezailah, Executive Director of the ITTO spoke of the directions ITTO is taking and said that the task of forestry development is so immense that we cannot predetermine or restrict the number of actors who should be mobilized for action on forestry. We should not discourage the intensifying pace of negotiations and information exchange since they have incremental value and facilitate broad participation in decision-making. He spoke of the newly agreed ITTA and that it has been open for signature since 1 April 1994 and hoped that it would come into force on 1 September 1995. 54 States have ratified the Agreement. ITTO has joined with FAO to initiate a process of creating a forum of experts to seek convergence of the processes to formulate global criteria for sustainable management of all types of forests. On the issue of resources, he asked the group to encourage the work of the Eminent Person"s Group.
NEW ZEALAND: The Chair, John Falloon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Racing of New Zealand, spoke briefly and tabled his speech. He spoke of his country"s forestry experience, the New Zealand Forest Code of Practice and the voluntary agreement between commercial forest and forestry organizations and conservation groups. New Zealand has been active in the South Pacific Forum, bilateral assistance, the Montreal Process and ITTO. He supported the conclusion of the CSD Intersessional meeting and said that the Ministers could help to identify areas where FAO might be asked to play a role, recognizing that the Ministers should not preempt the CSD.
CSD: Chair of the CSD, Dr. Klaus Tpfer was not able to attend the meeting due to pressing commitments in Germany. He sent his statement, which was tabled. In it he mentioned the conclusions and recommendations of the Working Group relating to Forests. He listed the possible elements of a mandate for the panel, including: creation of the basis for a global agreement on criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of all forests based on the convergence of the existing initiatives; the preparation of the basis for an international framework for the certification of timber from sustainably managed sources; assessment of ways to mobilize financial resources; identify priority areas for action; and the examination of the need for and the feasibility of a legally binding instrument on all types of forests, including the identification of possible elements of such a legally binding instrument. He said that "shared leadership" is needed and that this meeting should express the strong commitment of FAO to be part of this.
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