Published by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development
Vol. 13 No. 52
11 May 1999
HIGHLIGHTS FROM IFF-3
10 MAY 1999
On the sixth day of IFF-3, WG1 considered a Co-Chairs Report
on monitoring progress in implementation of the IPF proposals
for action and WG2 discussed a Co-Chairs Report on the future
supply of and demand for wood and non-wood forest products.
Contact groups on transfer of ESTs and trade and environment met
in evening sessions. The contact group on EST concluded its
WORKING GROUP 1
On monitoring progress in implementation, the G-77/CHINA
requested reference to new and additional financial and
technical resources based on national level criteria and
indicators (C&I). NAMIBIA supported reference to internationally
agreed C&I. The EU asked for clarification of linkages between
short-term and long-term aspects of implementation progress. The
US supported inclusion of SFM in relation to national level C&I.
On data collection and dissemination, CANADA supported
harmonization of existing monitoring and reporting systems where
appropriate. On the need to build institutional capacity, PERU
proposed, and the US opposed, replacing periodic monitoring of
the "state of the forests" with "programme of work" on forests.
On capacity building, the G-77/CHINA requested, and the EU and
the US opposed, reference to new and additional financial
resources. The US called for greater priority on capacity
building in assistance programmes, especially in developing
On harmonizing terminology and comparability of data
collection at the regional and global levels, CANADA called for
a reference to comparability of data rather than data
collection. PERU, the G77/CHINA and COLOMBIA opposed, and the EU
supported, reference to harmonization. The US, with MALAYSIA and
BRAZIL, suggested language developing a better common
understanding of key concepts, rather than harmonization. In
response to Canadas proposal for convergence, the US and the G-
77/CHINA proposed a reformulation including a better common
understanding of key concepts and a greater comparability of
In reference to tools for monitoring and voluntary national
reporting, the EU proposed, and BRAZIL opposed, reference to
IUCN data collection. The US called for the inclusion of SFM
after the reference to C&I and suggested incorporating the
results of C&I into voluntary reporting to the CSD. BRAZIL
underscored the importance of voluntary national reporting on a
CANADA called to delete reference to IUCN. The EU sought, and
was given, assurance from Co-Chair Asadi that this omission
would not preclude support for data collection activities by
IUCN and other organizations. The EU proposed, and the group
accepted, an additional paragraph referring to the need for
improved information for monitoring supply and demand for wood
and non-wood forest products and services.
On the proposals for action, AUSTRALIA, with the US and EU,
suggested a chapeau to the proposals recalling relevant IPF
proposals for action. AUSTRALIA, with the G-77/CHINA, introduced
a new proposal stressing the need to report to the IFF-4 on the
implementation of the IPF proposals for action. Jag Maini, IFF
Secretariat, noted this proposal duplicates the report being
collected for CSD-8. On a proposal to develop a harmonized and
comprehensive reporting format, the US proposed separating and
highlighting concepts related to reporting progress and
incorporating C&I at national and international levels. BRAZIL,
supported by CHILE, emphasized the focus on national reporting.
The EU called for adding global forest assessment to CSD
reporting. The issue was left for further consideration.
On the proposal calling for the effective coordination and
partnership to build capacity in developing countries, the US
proposed the term "improved" rather than "effective"
coordination. CHILE called for, and later withdrew, deletion of
the reference to developing countries, suggesting that capacity
building is needed in all countries.
On the proposal encouraging international organizations to
give feedback to countries and make information available,
CANADA proposed replacing interested parties with interested
groups and offered to provide a briefing on this language to
other delegations. The US questioned reference to "feedback" and
the EU explained that this referred to timeliness, encouragement
and how the information would be used. BRAZIL underscored the
need for financial resources to support reporting. CANADA
suggested, and the EU and US opposed, language encouraging
countries to make forest-related information widely available.
The US and EU, said the paragraph refers principally to
international organizations, rather than national information.
BRAZIL preferred national information and acknowledgment that
this implied resources. A consolidated paragraph by the EU
encouraging international organizations to consult, was
accepted, ad referendum.
WORKING GROUP 2
WG2 discussed the Co-Chairs' Report on future supply of and
demand for wood and non-wood forest products. The EU expanded
the title to also include services. Regarding the recent outlook
studies concluding that demand will match supply without price
increases, the EU added that at the national level, some
countries may experience shortages. The US said countries might
also experience price increases. The G-77/CHINA amended text
stating that some countries may experience shortages and
possibly price increases was accepted. An EU proposal to move a
policy implementation reference to the programme element on
promoting implementation was left pending.
On shifting to more intensively managed forests, with respect
to wood harvesting, CANADA stressed that such forests can also
be natural and called to delete references to natural forests.
The EU, supported by the G-77/CHINA, and opposed by the US and
CHILE, proposed deleting reference to plantations in discussing
intensively managed forests. The text remains in brackets. Text
on the cost efficiency of producing products from intensively
managed forests and an alternative EU proposal, stating that
environmental, economic and social principles of SFM should be
taken into consideration in the planning and management of
planted forests, were set aside.
On policies and prices, CANADAs proposed text stating that
policies that distort the efficient operation of markets may
contribute to the unsustainable management of forests was
accepted. The EU, with ECUADORs support, proposed language
indicating that such pricing policies influence consumption
patterns. The G-77/CHINA opposed the proposal and it remained
bracketed. CHILE expressed concern that many policies on
indigenous peoples and biodiversity could distort market
efficiency. The US modified the text to state that the
assessment of environmental consequences of pricing policies be
considered for both forest products and their substitutes. The
EU asked to replace the term pricing policies with market
policies. Both proposals were accepted.
On the various proposals encouraging countries and
international organizations to improve data collection and
information dissemination, the EU noted that proposals relating
to collection, reporting and inventory would be more appropriate
under the programme element on promoting implementation of the
IPF proposals and suggested their transfer. The text was
bracketed with the intention of transferring it, after
consultation with WG1. On other proposals, delegates agreed to a
chapeau encouraging countries, including through international
cooperation and as appropriate, to undertake the proposals for
action. On promoting policies to meet increasing demand, CANADA
proposed they be promoted through improved forest management.
The G-77/CHINA amended the text to read through improved SFM.
AUSTRALIA added reference to plantations and trees outside of
On recognizing the role of the private sector, the G-77/CHINA
suggested that countries support the private sector's role in
producing commodities through policies, incentives and
regulations. NEW ZEALAND supported full recognition of the
private sector's independent role apart from incentives and
regulations. Compromise text states that the private sector's
role may need to be supported by incentives and regulations.
Text on developing pilot studies to assess the impact of
fuelwood collection was bracketed.
On developing and implementing policies designed to promote
sustainable production of non-wood forest products and services,
the US preferred that countries develop a better understanding
of sustainable production. Delegates debated a Canadian proposal
regarding equitable distribution of benefits to providers of
goods and services. The US, supported by CHILE and the G-
77/CHINA, emphasized the distinction between providers and
owners and called for more inclusive text. The proposal remains
On the relationship between policies and prices of forest
products and their substitutes, the G-77/CHINA, NEW ZEALAND, the
US and others proposed new formulations and modifications. The
US underlined the need for text recognizing the relationship
between prices and waste, overuse and inefficient manufacturing
of wood products and their substitutes. CANADA called for more
action-oriented language. The text remains bracketed.
On a proposal calling for consideration of the benefits of
renewable and non-renewable alternatives to products
traditionally made from wood, CANADA, supported by the G-
77/CHINA, preferred undertake studies on the costs and
benefits. AUSTRALIA preferred, and CANADA opposed, calling for
consideration of environmental acceptability of wood products
compared with alternatives. The EU called to replace wood
products with forest and non-forest products. The proposal
calls for undertaking studies on costs and benefits with the
proposed options bracketed.
NEW ZEALAND, supported by AUSTRALIA and CHILE, called to add
a proposal on policies to reduce unsustainable consumption of
forest products. The US, G-77/CHINA and EU opposed, noting that
the substance of the issue was not addressed in the conclusions.
No decision was reached.
TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT: The contact group on trade and
environment began consideration of the Chairs revised proposals
for action, but no agreement was reached. Discussion revolved
around whether to refer to the WTO and to the reduction of
subsidies, tariff escalation and non-tariff barriers. Some
delegates warned against reopening issues negotiated in the
conclusions, while others claimed the proposals should be more
explicit than the conclusions. Delegates agreed to further
reflect upon the text.
TRANSFER OF ESTs: In the contact groups final session to
remove remaining brackets on terminology, mechanisms and
linkages with other international agreements, a group of
developing countries reiterated its insistence to include
references to biological resources of forests and the
development of technologies. Most developed countries reiterated
their concerns over using language from the CBD. Many countries
were ready to accept the proposed text which made reference to
the CBDs definition of biological resources in a footnote. One
developed countrys opposition precluded a consensus and the
paragraph remained bracketed. A group of developing countries
underscored the importance of, and several developed countries
opposed, language on EST transfer and linkages to the CBD. The
text was left in brackets and will be forwarded to WG2.
IN THE CORRIDORS
The new influx of negotiators in delegations has elevated the
level of debate. Some delegations are troubled by these
newcomers, suggesting that last weeks debates are being
rehashed. Others suggested that their presence has sharpened the
debates and that progress will begin to be made on crucial
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
PLENARY: Plenary will convene at 3:00 pm to continue
discussion on international arrangements and mechanisms.
WG1: WG1 will meet in Salle XIX at 10:00 am to continue
consideration of Co-Chairs Report on monitoring progress in
implementation, TFRK and, time permitting, underlying causes and
WG2: WG2 will meet in Salle XX at 10:00 am to consider
rehabilitation of forest cover in environmentally critical areas
and, time permitting, valuation.
CONTACT GROUPS: The contact group on trade and environment
will meet at a time to be determined.