IPF-4 opened on Tuesday, 11 February 1997, with statements from Co-Chairs Sir Martin Holdgate (UK) and Manuel Rodriguez (Colombia). Co-Chair Holdgate emphasized the time constraints the Panel faced in completing its work. Co-Chair Rodriguez urged concrete recommendations to address the problems facing the worlds forests. He called for progress in international cooperation and trade and urged delegates to fulfill the Rio commitments on technology transfer and the provision of new and additional resources.
Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, highlighted the Panels progress on national forest programmes (NFPs), criteria and indicators (C&I), assessment, certification and eco-labelling, and institutional arrangements.
Co-Chair Holdgate introduced the document on Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters (E/CN.17/IPF/ 1997/1), noting that the report of IPF-4 was supposed to be an agreed and negotiated text. The US, INDIA and PAPUA NEW GUINEA endorsed the Co-Chairs proposal to use Elements of a draft report (E/CN.17/IPF/1997/3) as the basis for negotiation. The Plenary then adopted the agenda and programme of work.
Two speakers reported on the Intersessional Meeting of Indigenous and Other Forest- Dependent Peoples on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests, held in Leticia, Colombia, from 9-13 December 1996. COLOMBIA stated that the workshop focused on promotion of participation and legal frameworks for protection of indigenous lands and knowledge. The INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE TROPICAL FORESTS (ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES) outlined proposals from the workshop on transparent and indigenous-designed mechanisms for financial assistance and technology transfer and a permanent UN forum for indigenous peoples.
JAPAN reported on the International Workshop on the Integrated Application of Sustainable Forest Management Practices held in Kochi, Japan, from 22-25 November 1996. The workshop focused on translating an international understanding of sustainable forest management (SFM) into practice and enriching the IPF process with field-level knowledge. The workshop report calls for a new multidisciplinary, stakeholder-driven and fully implementable culture for land-use planning, forest research and extension.
UGANDA reported on the Intergovernmental Workshop of Experts on Sustainable Forestry and Land Use: The Process of Consensus-Building, held in Stockholm from 14- 18 October 1996. The workshop focused on consensus-building during the preparation of national forest and land-use plans and called for: a common vision and working definition of consensus; harmonization of sectoral with larger interests; training in consensus- building; secure property rights; proper forest valuation; and decision-making.
The EU, also on behalf of BULGARIA, CYPRUS, ESTONIA, HUNGARY, LITHUANIA, POLAND, ROMANIA, SLOVENIA and SLOVAKIA, stressed the need for a holistic approach that includes economic and development issues not adequately addressed by other conventions. A global forest convention would provide the appropriate framework and would ensure the implementation of the Forest Principles. He hoped for a unanimous recommendation to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for a global forest convention.
The G-77/CHINA emphasized the need for new, innovative and additional financial and technical assistance as part of a comprehensive approach to forests. Anti-poverty programmes that ensure benefits to local communities and forest-dwellers are essential. Environmentally-sound technology should be made available on affordable terms and without intellectual property rights (IPR) restrictions. Interim arrangements should be considered for the implementation of IPF-recommended programmes during a long-term dialogue.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said forest partnership agreements (FPAs) and forest plantations hold promise for addressing natural forest depletion and called for mutually supportive trade and environment policies. ARGENTINA reported on the results of the third Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). He noted the COPs decision (contained in E/CN.17/IPF/1997/8) to develop a focused work programme on forest biodiversity to complement work by the IPF and other fora, and the work programmes focus on research cooperation and techniques for the conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity. The CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH (CIFOR) proposed that the IPF improve forest research by establishing: a clearinghouse to guide research; research networks and consortia; mechanisms to assist capacity-building; and a mechanism to mobilize resources.
The CANADIAN PULP AND PAPER ASSOCIATION advocated the initiation of negotiations on a legally-binding forest convention, which could, inter alia: develop a common definition of SFM; encourage forest conservation; enhance coordination of international institutions; and encourage trade in forest products to facilitate development. SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL expressed concern that governments commitment to allow and encourage participation of major groups has begun to evaporate and may continue to erode. GREEN EARTH noted that discussions about a forest convention are premature and could formalize lowest-common- denominator forest management standards. IUCN called for a systematic effort to formulate enabling policies based on forest management experiences of indigenous and local communities, and for the integration of these efforts into any proposed institutional follow-up to the IPF.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 11-12 February, the Panel met in Plenary to give general statements and exchange views on programme elements V.1. International organizations and multilateral institutions; and V.2. Legal mechanisms. Two working groups were formed on Thursday, 13 February to negotiate sections of the draft report. Working Group I, chaired by Sir Martin Holdgate focused on programme elements I. Implementation of UNCED forest-related decisions and III. Scientific research, forest assessment, and criteria and indicators. Working Group II, chaired by Manuel Rodriguez focused on programme elements II. Financial assistance and technology transfer and IV. Trade and environment. Contact groups chaired by Canada and Australia discussed primarily finance and trade issues and nomenclature, respectively, throughout IPF-4. The Plenary reconvened on Wednesday, 19 February, to exchange views and then negotiate draft texts on programme element V. The final text is divided into 12 programme elements and each section contains conclusions and proposals for action.
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