The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) held its second session from 11-22 March, 1996 in Geneva. Delegates conducted their first substantive discussions of six programme elements: underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation; fragile ecosystems affected by desertification and the impact of air pollution on forests; needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover; international cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer for sustainable forest management; assessment of the multiple benefits of all types of forests; and methodologies for proper valuation of the multiple benefits of forests. The substantive discussions were based on Secretary-General's reports prepared by the IPF Secretariat and UN agencies participating in the Interagency Task Force on forests.
Delegates also completed initial consideration of the remaining programme elements: progress through national forest and land use plans; traditional forest-related knowledge; criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; trade and environment in relation to forest products and services; and international organizations and multilateral institutions and instruments, including appropriate legal mechanisms.
During the final two days of the meeting, delegates considered the Co-Chairs' summaries. They labeled these transitional in nature to signify that the summaries did not represent negotiated text. Delegates agreed to begin negotiations at IPF-3 on items that had received substantive consideration at this session, although another substantive discussion is scheduled on the programme element on financial assistance and technology transfer. Delegates left Geneva satisfied that they had expressed national positions on a range of forest issues, but somewhat frustrated that all of their positions were not reflected in the report of IPF-2.