Working Group I negotiated text on assessment, research, valuation and criteria and indicators (C&I) on Tuesday, 18 February, continuing consideration of C&I on Wednesday, 19 February. Delegates agreed to these sections with relatively little debate in the Working Group. The final Plenary adopted both conclusions and proposals for action without discussion.
ASSESSMENT OF THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF ALL TYPES OF FORESTS: The final document encourages countries to integrate national C&I into assessments, including qualitative indicators where appropriate, and to improve forest resource assessment and analysis capacity. It requests the FAO to: prepare an implementation plan for FRA (Forest Resource Assessment) 2000; implement FRA 2000 in collaboration with international organizations, countries and others; and define key assessment terms. Countries are urged to begin a consultation process with all interested parties at national, subnational and local levels to identify the full range of societal benefits from forests, considering the ecosystem approach.
FOREST RESEARCH: The final document requests the CIFOR, in collaboration with relevant organizations and an experts group, to develop possible mechanisms to: guide identification of global and eco-regional interdisciplinary research problems; promote consortia or networks to lead and organize research and ensure availability of results; build global research capacity; and mobilize resources. The document: calls on the CBD, the Framework Convention on Climate Change and CCD to promote research and analysis; urges the UN system, international financial institutions and countries to examine the need to expand existing research capacity and, where appropriate, to establish new research, development and extension centres; and encourages countries and regional and international research organizations to extend and prioritize on-site research and application of its results.
VALUATION METHODOLOGIES: In Working Group Is debate of this section, delegates accepted a US proposal to delete language encouraging mechanisms to deal with the distribution of economic rent as a means of improving SFM.
The final document encourages countries to use available methodologies to provide improved valuation of all forest goods and services and allow more informed decision- making on alternative forest programmes and land-use plans. It notes that present methodologies do not address the wide range of forests benefits, and that economic valuation cannot substitute for the political decision process, which includes environmental, socioeconomic, ethical, cultural and religious concerns. The decision requests international organizations to prepare a comprehensive document on available methodologies and required data sets, especially to evaluate goods and services not traded in the marketplace. It invites the promotion of research to further develop methodologies, particularly related to deforestation and forest degradation, erosion and C&I.
CRITERIA AND INDICATORS: Delegates debated the proper relationship between C&I at national and other levels in several action proposals. They also considered the appropriateness of seeking common C&I to use on the global level. A lengthy discussion of a bracketed action proposal on global reference criteria as a common denominator drew calls for deletion from the G-77/CHINA, the US, NEW ZEALAND, BRAZIL and COLOMBIA. CANADA, AUSTRALIA and the EU wanted to retain or amend the text. The final document recommends that the FAO and participants in regional and international initiatives draw on commonalities between C&I developed by the initiatives, and that FAO and others use C&I to improve consistency in reporting on forest assessment and SFM. Delegates agreed to a conclusion calling for consistency in the methodology applied to global forest assessment, but indicated that the Panel had divergent views on the merits of a core set of C&I at the global level.
The EU proposed seeking an international consensus on various aspects of C&I. The US preferred to seek a common understanding and similarities between different sets of C&I, but not mutual recognition and convergence. The final decision urges efforts to achieve a common international understanding on: concepts and definitions to formulate C&I; indicators for forests in similar ecological zones; the mutual recognition among sets of C&I as tools for assessing trends in forest management and national conditions; and transparent methods for measurement of indicators.
In debate on the use of C&I, the US, NEW ZEALAND, GABON and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA said that it was inappropriate to say that C&I could be considered to facilitate certifying forest management, noting that certification and C&I are distinct and that certification is not well understood. AUSTRALIA and the EU proposed that C&I could be used in voluntary certification. The final document urges countries to promote, as appropriate, use of internationally, regionally, sub-regionally and nationally agreed C&I as a framework for promoting best forest practices and in facilitating SFM with the full participation of interested parties, and, where appropriate, to clarify links between national and subnational or forest management unit/operational levels, promoting compatibility of C&I at all levels.
The final document also encourages countries to prepare, through a participatory approach, national-level C&I and, cognizant of specific country conditions and based on internationally and regionally agreed initiatives, to implement them. It encourages countries not yet participating in international and regional C&I initiatives to become involved. Donor countries and multilateral and international organizations are urged to provide adequate technical and financial assistance to developing countries and economies in transition for this involvement. The IPF also requested that the CBD COP take note of the various C&I initiatives to ensure that CBD work on biodiversity indicators is consistent and complementary.
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