Programme element V.2 was considered by a joint Working Group session on 13 September and by the plenary on 19 September. Jag Maini (IPF Secretariat) introduced the Secretary-Generals report (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.
A number of delegations, including the G-77/CHINA, MALAYSIA, COLOMBIA and the PHILIPPINES, supported the development of an international forum for policy coordination and dialogue on all types of forests and continuation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests. Several delegations supported the commencement of negotiations on a convention or other legally-binding instrument on forests, including the EU, ITALY, FRANCE, POLAND, CANADA and INDIA. The CANADIAN PULP AND PAPER ASSOCIATION also advocated an international convention on forests. Other delegations did not favor a convention at the present time or noted that additional factors must be considered. The US said the report introduces a new way of classifying the Forest Principles and the work of the IPF. He questioned the reports gap analysis and called for an extended IPF or similar forum to continue the international dialogue on forests. BRAZIL said a case has not been made for a new convention and suggested better use of existing instruments. NEW ZEALAND stated that the time is not yet ripe for a forest convention and more progress should first be achieved through existing mechanisms. SWITZERLAND said that concentrating all efforts on negotiating a convention might result in a loss of momentum, so consensus-building on forest issues should continue simultaneously. The PHILIPPINES highlighted the energy function of forests and proposed an analysis of the linkages to related work within the Climate Change Convention. Financial implications of a convention would need to be studied.
Many delegations, such as AUSTRALIA, the EU and FRANCE, supported the development of an inter-agency task force and an intergovernmental mechanism to maintain momentum. MEXICO supported the continuation of a high-level policy dialogue on forests. NORWAY noted that there is a wide range of views on how to attain SFM, and cautioned against allowing the format to hinder progress. 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. 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. Environmental NGOs recommended using regional agreements as a model and developing an analysis of existing initiatives. They warned against jeopardizing the implementation of existing instruments by focusing on a new one and called for implementation of current agreements with local participation.
On 19 September, the plenary considered a draft negotiating text on programme element V.2. The G-77/CHINA, supported by MALAYSIA, argued for a holistic and comprehensive treatment of existing legal mechanisms and their relation to conservation, management and sustainable development of forests. Supported by the PHILIPPINES and MALAYSIA, the G-77/CHINA called for clear identification of existing gaps, such as on trade and environment and on financing of technology.
The US noted there is no consensus on gaps and overlaps nor on what existing organizations can accomplish. Supported by NEW ZEALAND, he called for an extension of the IPF with a more focused mandate. He called for a report from the Secretariat for IPF-4. Such a document would examine continuation of the IPFs ad hoc inter- agency mechanism as well as alternative mechanisms for continuing the forest dialogue using existing structures such as FAO and ad hoc temporary organizations. The report should also consider duration of meetings and of the Panel. The EU emphasized that the Panel should send a clear message to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in 1997 to engage a high-level commitment and guidance on worldwide forest management and its successful implementation.
SWITZERLAND supported a report for IPF-4 and called for negotiations on a framework convention that would: provide a holistic programme for SFM; facilitate coordination and implementation of existing programmes and instruments; and foster negotiation of regional instruments. JAPAN said all proposals for action made at IPF-3 should be considered simply as conclusions, leaving deliberations of actions for IPF-4. He supported the need for continued international consultation on forest issues, but called for language stressing the general need for a holistic and comprehensive approach rather than a specific continuation and enhancement of the current exercise. The PHILIPPINES recommended stronger language on the need for a high-level intergovernmental mechanism and sought one holistic instrument on forests rather than a separate convention on trade in forest products.
MALAYSIA called for recognition that existing instruments collectively impose significant responsibilities and commitments on tropical producers but not on temperate and boreal producers. He said that proposed protocols to existing conventions would give unbalanced treatment to forest issues rather than the required holistic approach, noting gaps in the handling of certain issues such as financing, technology and resource transfer and capacity building under existing instruments. With MEXICO, he called for a set time frame for actions to ensure definite progress. MEXICO supported calls for preparation of a document for IPF-4 and said it should address the existing gap on economic issues such as the comprehensive need for technology and resource transfer and international policies that have an impact on SFM. ARGENTINA urged that options remain open and called for a study devising a comprehensive programme on SFM at the international level. INDIA sought the establishment of a mechanism similar to the IPF, with some refinement, and suggested that a new legal instrument may not be necessary. BRAZIL noted the Panel has the option to maintain the status quo, modify it or adopt new instruments and/or arrangements. He highlighted the need to take the onus off governments and increase private sector involvement.
A revised negotiating text incorporates the preliminary proposals and will serve as basis for discussion at IPF-4. The text contains the specific proposals for action that emerged during IPF-3. At the intergovernmental level, proposals include a high-level forum for policy coordination or continuation of IPF, and at the inter-agency level, a continuation of the informal Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests or a merging of the functions of existing institutions into a new institution. Proposals for legal mechanisms include: improved coordination; establishment of a forum of existing institutions to review the need for a new instrument; and initiation of negotiations on a convention. The proposals on a convention contain many courses of action, such as a convention on the Forest Principles and forest-related provisions of Agenda 21, a convention covering all aspects of forestry needed for SFM and a convention on forest product trade covering all types of forests.
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