A theme underlying many of the discussions in the corridors and within the negotiations at the COFO and ministerial meetings was that FAO needs to continue its internal reforms. FAO hosted the world"s forestry ministers with hopes of getting an endorsements that: FAO is the appropriate forum for policy and strategy decisions on global forestry issues; that within the UN system it is the competent agency on all matters related to forestry; and that COFO is the intergovernmental body with responsibility to deal with technical forestry issues at the world level. The message the meeting delivered to FAO was much more restricted.
Delegates often spoke of the need to focus on the organization"s strengths before extending its mission or adding additional responsibilities. Delegates and observers also repeatedly criticized FAO"s record on participation and called for improvement in involvement of women, indigenous peoples, NGOs and the private sector. Some developing countries praised FAO"s measures to provide national level assistance, but they expressed limited support in negotiations on the ministerial declaration for extending FAO"s responsibilities. The emphatic suggestion by some developed countries that FAO"s experience and resources were necessary to carry forest policy forward did not overcome delegates" or ministers" reservations. Despite attempts to give FAO lead authority in the next steps on forest policy, stronger language on the FAO role in some early drafts was quickly removed. The final ministerial statement supports FAO"s technical expertise and activities, but it also explicitly recognizes the CSD"s role in political review of UNCED-related forest issues.
(Editor"s Note: This segment is adapted from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin report of the Intersessional Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Sectoral Issues (Vol. 5 No. 27), written by Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., Langston James Goree VI (Kimo) and Wagaki Mwangi.)
The Commission on Sustainable Development"s Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Sectoral Issues opened on Monday, 27 February 1995. During the course of the week, delegates discussed the six reports of the Secretary-General on the sectoral issues that will be considered by the CSD at its third session in April 1995. These include: integrated management of land resources, forests, combating desertification, sustainable mountain development, sustainable agriculture and rural development, and biological diversity. During the first two days, delegates discussed the reports prepared by the Secretary-General. The latter three days were spent discussing the draft report of the Working Group. By the conclusion of the week, delegates adopted their report, including a series of recommendations to present to the CSD. Paragraphs 11-22 of this report relate to forests.
Chapter 11 " Forests: The proposals in this section were the results of negotiations within a Contact Group chaired by Amb. Bo Kjelln (Sweden). Paragraph 18 recognizes the need for the CSD to promote the efforts of Chapter 11 and the Forest Principles, within the work of other UN agencies. If further options are to be considered, the preference is for an intergovernmental process. Paragraph 19 recognizes that addressing forest issues will require an discussing cross-sectoral issues such as poverty, population growth, consumption and production patterns, and trade issues, as well as unsustainable policies related to agriculture, energy and trade. Paragraph 20 welcomes the progress by countries, and calls for further concrete action, some of which are outlined in the Secretary-General"s report. In this connection, it requests the CSD to consider an intergovernmental panel on forests, under its aegis, which is open, transparent and has a participatory approach, to assess work already done and to propose further action, while drawing upon the expertise of relevant agencies and organizations. Paragraph 22 states that the CSD will determine the mandate and operational modalities for the proposed panel, and suggested that the terms of reference be drawn from elements in the Forest Principles, Agenda 21, other forest-related international initiatives, some of which are contained in Annex I. The panel will provide a progress report to the fourth session of the CSD and its conclusions to the fifth session.
[Return to start of article]