The FAO introduced the SG's report on Programme Element III.1(b) (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/7) on 15 March and stated that all forest resources should undergo valuation. He said the IPF should assess whether existing methodologies are sufficient and if adequate use is being made of existing valuation data.
INDONESIA, RUSSIA, ARGENTINA, the G-77/CHINA and others proposed a variety of bases for valuation including the social, economic, cultural and ecological aspects of forests. Non-economic as well as economic valuations were mentioned by CANADA, MEXICO, the PHILIPPINES, NEW ZEALAND, INDIA and FUNDACION NATURA DE ECUADOR. The UK said the IPF could set benchmarks as tools to illustrate relative forest values, especially those without obvious market value. INDIA said the intangible aspects of forests cannot be easily monetized and are therefore undervalued.
MEXICO said the total economic value of forests, recognizing international implications, should be addressed. The NETHERLANDS said valuation methods may not be capable of including non-monetary values. AUSTRALIA said assigning monetary values is not always necessary. POLAND noted that valuation methodology can be a vehicle for moving toward a non-consumptive society. BRAZIL stated that valuation measures should be incremental in nature and suggested that significant changes in behavior, perceptions and attitudes were required.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA and NEW ZEALAND suggested that valuation methodologies should be cost effective. The G-77/CHINA said valuation is important but should not be promoted at the expense of higher priority activities, such as the development of reliable data systems. The US, NEW ZEALAND and ECUADOR said valuation should be compatible with national accounts, while the G-77/CHINA, BELARUS and COLOMBIA said valuation should be conducted in accordance with national plans and priorities.
The EU said valuation methodologies and political issues are closely linked and called for research to clarify their relationship. A lack of scientific understanding should not be cause for inaction. NORWAY said that valuation of forest resources requires cooperation from all sectors, including NGOs, and that non-market goods and services deserve greater consideration in decision-making, but may be difficult to quantify. The FUNDACION PERUANA PARA LA CONSERVACION DE LA NATURALEZA said decision-making processes should recognize the value of sustaining non-renewable resources.
MALAYSIA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA said the IPF should elaborate on the sharing of experiences between developing countries. The PHILIPPINES and PAPUA NEW GUINEA noted difficulty in applying valuation methodologies. KENYA, FRANCE and COLOMBIA called for wider participation in valuation exercises. TANZANIA stated that the methodologies in the report are too complex to be absorbed easily by governments and local communities and called for more training opportunities.
Delegates considered the Co-Chairs' draft summary on 21 March. The draft: stresses the wide range of benefits forests provide; notes that methodologies for goods and services are in the early stages and have limitations; emphasizes that economic valuation is one of many considerations; notes that many methodologies are too complex and expensive for widespread application; notes opportunities for international cooperation; suggests further research and participation; lists criteria including cost-effectiveness, simplicity and clarity, and country-driven; calls for recognition of ecological, social, cultural and religious values and trade; notes inclusion in national accounts; and requests a matrix of various methodologies.
The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT said the Panel should encourage development and implementation of valuation methodologies. There is no evidence that methodologies are too complex, expensive or beyond the understanding of stakeholders. Supported by the US, he said the report should not qualify participation of indigenous people in research. The G-77/CHINA noted that valuation exercises should not be conducted at the expense of more pressing needs. The EU said multidisciplinarity should be a valuation criterion. The US emphasized research on global dimensions of climate change and biodiversity. INDONESIA said that forest valuation methods should entail scientific evaluation and address non-quantifiable forest services.
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