Plenary convened with the election of officers. M.F. Ahmed (India) was elected Vice- Chair of IPF. The Panel then turned its attention to programme element V.1, international organizations and multilateral institutions (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/23). Jag Maini (IPF Secretariat) introduced the Secretary-Generals report, noting the issues cross-sectoral and multi-dimensional nature. He highlighted several key points including: an examination of the anticipated functions and activities required to be performed by international organizations and institutions and instruments to support internationally agreed future priorities; the establishment of a structured body to coordinate intergovernmental agencies; NGO and government activities; the value of NGO contributions; the need to evaluate the operational capacity of existing instruments; and the need to develop a high-level forum for continued dialogue. The report proposes several options for action, including: a high-level forum for international policy, strategic data collection, regional and global projects, additional funding for research and development and improved mechanisms for coordination.
Franz Schmidth�sen (Switzerland) presented the findings of the Swiss-Peruvian initiative, noting that existing legal instruments include only principles and no commitments. He urged that this imbalance be rectified and called for an in-depth analysis of agency linkages. The G-77/CHINA, supported by the PHILIPPINES, BRAZIL, PERU and MALAYSIA, said more work was needed to develop a clear view of the work being undertaken by international and regional institutions. Gaps and overlaps should be identified and coordination among agencies enhanced.
The EU, supported by the UK, noted that the issue is important as it will lay the groundwork for the international communitys support of all other IPF issues. He sought to accelerate the incorporation of UNCED decisions, enhance government and private sector financing and strengthen inter-agency coordination. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION noted the need for a global political forum capable of generating solutions. He disputed the need to set up a new structure but supported the use of existing instruments, although coordination is poor and should be improved. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL highlighted the merit of a potential forest protocol under the CBD. He expressed concern that negotiation of a separate forest convention would risk delaying necessary and effective action. He noted the need for inter-agency coordination, periodic monitoring and review and improved donor coordination. The PHILIPPINES called for a thorough appraisal of activities under existing instruments and improved coordination. The FOREST PEOPLES PROGRAMME noted a lack of attention by international organizations to land tenure issues and agrarian reform. The report overemphasizes the institutional aspects related to forests at the expense of highlighting the concerns of people who inhabit and depend upon forests.
BRAZIL said the report fails to assess how the UNCED decisions related to forests are being implemented under existing instruments. He noted that although much progress has been made, the short time allotted to the IPF to fulfill its broad mandate is insufficient. The US said the Panel must devise ways to reduce duplication and improve coordination among existing instruments. The proposal for a high-level forum for forest policy debate requires further elaboration. COLOMBIA called for an analysis of financial resources to identify gaps and overlaps. The report should recognize the importance of NGO activity at the regional and subregional levels.
JAPAN, with SWITZERLAND, favored using existing coordination and collaboration mechanisms, such as the ITTC, and stated that the idea of establishing a new consultative body requires further consideration. PAPUA NEW GUINEA, supported by SOUTH AFRICA and PERU, favored an informal forum for discussion, and recommended maintaining IPF as an open-ended intergovernmental umbrella. He asked for more details on a new funding framework for SFM. PERU noted that IPF is a starting point for an overall integrative mechanism.
SWITZERLAND recommended making the existing inter-agency task force permanent, called for a Secretariat report on options for a high-level political forum and supported North-South partnerships. CANADA noted the lack of coordinated government guidance on forest issues and called for a new legally-binding instrument rather than just a continuation of the IPF. INDIA rejected any global policy for forests and called for study of the effects on forests from farming marginal land. MEXICO, supported by MALAYSIA, called for attention to funding mechanisms and for concrete measures to achieve SFM quickly. MALAYSIA supported the proposal for a participatory mechanism for high-level dialogue on coordination and prioritization of issues. UNED-UK supported COLOMBIAs call for more effective regulation and monitoring of multilateral organizations, and noted a need for regulatory vigilance in many areas that impinge upon forests, particularly industry.
INDONESIA sought the establishment of a high-level forum to address forest-related issues and a convention on forests. NORWAY supported increasing the efficiency of existing institutions rather than establishing new ones. He suggested an information clearinghouse and combining ODA with private sector funding. The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT said NGO contributions need not only be conducted jointly with agencies but could be conducted independently for better efficiency. He expressed disappointment regarding the results of the Swiss-Peruvian initiative and sought increased clarity regarding the roles and activities of existing institutions and instruments. GABON suggested the establishment of a special fund for SFM and increased contributions from the private sector with regard to capital input, technology transfer and information dissemination.
IUCN urged the establishment of: a mechanism to monitor the relationship between deforestation patterns and national social and political changes; new linkages between country-level and regional networks facilitated by relevant intergovernmental agencies; and partnerships between forest communities, private sector interests and government agencies.
Delegates then considered the Secretary-Generals report on programme element V.2, legal mechanisms (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/24). The report describes the relevance of existing legal instruments and attempts to define gaps and overlaps with respect to forest-related issues in these instruments. The G-77/CHINA, supported by MALAYSIA, COLOMBIA and the PHILIPPINES, said much work is needed to bring the report into the sustainable development focus. He welcomed an international forum and an inter-agency task force. The EU, supported by ITALY and FRANCE, said that international agreements do not provide a holistic approach and supported a convention to promote SFM for all forests. AUSTRALIA supported an inter-agency task force and an intergovernmental mechanism to maintain momentum. Discussions should continue under a forest heading and under the auspices of IPF. The US said the report introduces a new way of classifying forest principles and the work of IPF. He questioned the reports gap analysis and recommended an extended IPF or a similar forum. BRAZIL said a case has not been made for a new convention and suggested better use of existing instruments. POLAND supported a holistic approach and supported all initiatives to build a legally-binding instrument. NORWAY noted that there is a wide range of views on how to attain SFM, and cautioned against allowing the format to hinder the progress. WORLD BUSINESS COUNCIL FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT/ INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE said governments and NGOs must take the lead in educating the public to channel investment into SFM.
The CANADIAN PULP AND PAPER ASSOCIATION advocated an international convention on forests. Key elements of such a convention might include, inter alia: requirements for land use plans and monitoring and reporting; internationally recognized C&I for monitoring success of national action programmes; and promotion of worldwide free trade in forest products. NEW ZEALAND stated that the time is not yet ripe for a forest convention and more progress can be achieved through existing mechanisms. She proposed an IPF 2000, extending the life of the Panel for no longer than 3 years, but said it should focus on high priority issues and meet no more than once a year. CANADA asserted that the lack of coordination among institutions and instruments relating to forests is the biggest obstacle to implementing SFM. Strong relationships with the FCCC, CBD, CITES and other instruments should be forged for better coordination. He advocated the commencement of negotiations for a legally-binding instrument on forests in 1997. COLOMBIA said the report should highlight the establishment of protected areas and the just and equitable distribution of benefits. She called for strengthening existing instruments and leaving the door open for a political dialogue on forests.
FRANCE supported a continued dialogue on forests and preferred an international instrument. ZIMBABWE agreed that forestry issues are being dealt with in a fragmented manner. The momentum for SFM must be maintained, and he supported New Zealands IPF 2000 proposal. The PHILIPPINES called for a focus on the energy function of forests and an analysis of the linkages to related work within the FCCC. Financial implications of a convention would need to be studied in future proposals for a legally- binding instrument. In further deliberations, there must be analysis of cross-sectoral issues and wide, balanced participation. SWITZERLAND said if a forest convention can facilitate necessary cooperation between countries, then the time is ripe to begin drafting. He echoed a concern voiced by others that concentrating all efforts on negotiating such a text might result in a loss of momentum, so consensus-building on forest issues should continue simultaneously.
The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT presented additional areas for attention in a future report on options, including regional agreements as a model. He recommended that an analysis of existing initiatives be undertaken by independent consultants and warned against jeopardizing the implementation of existing instruments by focusing on a new one. WWF said implementation of current agreements with local participation should be the priority now. PERU recommended a short-term commitment to continuing high-level intergovernmental dialogue on forests, to meet twice a year, and called any proposal for a convention premature and inopportune. MALAYSIA recommended that any new convention must call for a balanced, holistic treatment of forests in developed and developing countries.
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