The Economic and Social Council, in its decision 1995/226, endorsed the recommendation of the third session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to establish an open-ended ad hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests to pursue consensus and coordinated proposals for action to support the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests. In pursuing its mandate, the IPF is focusing on 11 issues clustered into five interrelated categories and will submit final conclusions and policy recommendations to the CSD at its fifth session in 1997.
The IPF is considering the outputs of a large number of ongoing processes and initiatives and drawing upon the expertise and resources of relevant organizations within and outside the United Nations system, as well as from all relevant parties, including major groups. Meetings of experts sponsored by one or more countries, international organizations and major groups will contribute to the work of the IPF. The IPF will hold a total of four meetings and, at its first session, decided that all topics should be left open for discussion during its second and third sessions, but different topics will be emphasized at each session.
The first meeting of the IPF took place in New York from 11-15 September 1995. At this meeting, delegates elected Sir Martin Holdgate (UK) as Co-Chair from the developed countries and Mr. N.R. Krishnan (India) and Dr. Manuel Rodriguez (Colombia) as Co-Chairs from the G-77, with Krishnan serving as Co-Chair for the first two sessions and Rodriguez serving as Co-Chair for the final two sessions. Delegates also adopted the IPF programme of work and attempted to set the dates and venues of future meetings. Several of the issues that have typically divided North and South again proved difficult. Members of the G-77 were resistant to any proposal that could foreseeably lead to a loss of national control over forests and forest products. There was also some concern about the subject of criteria and indicators and whether proposed intersessional workshops should constitute an official part of the Panel process. Developed countries questioned the need to extend the length of meetings of the Panel and expressed serious concerns about the Panel's work.
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