Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 24 No. 32
Tuesday, 11 November 2003
PREPCOM II HIGHLIGHTS:
MONDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2003
Delegates to the Second Session of the Preparatory
Committee (PrepCom II) for the Negotiation of a Successor Agreement
to the 1994 International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA, 1994)
convened in both Plenary and closed-door caucus sessions. In
Plenary, delegates heard presentations on: experiences in
implementing the ITTA, 1994; the current status and future potential
of markets for ecosystem services (ES) of tropical forests; and the
Inter-sessional Working Group on the Renegotiation of a Successor
Agreement to the ITTA, 1994 held in Curitiba, Brazil in August 2003.
In the afternoon, delegates discussed amendments to articles for the
MORNING PLENARY SESSION
OPENING OF THE SESSION: Prepcom II Chair Jürgen
Blaser (Switzerland) opened the meeting, noting progress so far and
emphasizing the need for good communication and information exchange
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Chair Blaser
recommended, and the Committee agreed, that the Credentials
Committee verify representatives’ credentials and report back to
PrepCom II. Delegates approved the agenda and admitted all
EXPERIENCES OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ITTA, 1994:
Stephanie Caswell, ITTO Consultant, presented the report on
experiences of implementation of the ITTA, 1994 (ITTC(XXXV)/5). She
highlighted ITTO achievements, including progress on ITTO Objective
2000; funding under the Bali Partnership Fund; and cooperation with
Regarding areas for potential review during the
PrepCom, she outlined, inter alia: consolidating the
Agreement’s objectives; specifying the ITTC’s functions; and
improving policy and project work integration.
MALAYSIA said the ITTA’s achievements have been
mixed, underlining that, with limited funding, it is important not
to overburden the Secretariat. He added that the new agreement
should not differ substantially from ITTA, 1994.
PERU said the Agreement needs only fine-tuning and
should take into consideration domestic realities. NEW ZEALAND
suggested the new agreement focus on the long term. INDONESIA
highlighted the lack of achievement of ITTO Objective 2000. The
EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (EC) underlined the value of ex-post
evaluations. The US stressed the need to streamline the agreement.
ITTC-35 Chair Bin Che Yeom Freezailah (Malaysia) lauded ITTO’s many
achievements, including enthusiasm, cooperation, goodwill and
understanding of delegates and the openness of ITTC sessions to
POTENTIAL OF MARKETS FOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES:
Chair Blaser presented on the current status and future potential of
markets for ES of tropical forests (ITTC(XXXV)/6). He said the main
buyers of ES are local, private investors. Chair Blaser said that
trade in ES can result in land-rights claims by politically powerful
groups and contract negotiations that exclude local people. He said
that the ES trade is hampered by insufficient knowledge and
information dissemination and called for the development of property
rights and legal frameworks.
NORWAY, supported by MALAYSIA, VENEZUELA, INDONESIA,
the REPUBLIC OF CONGO and the EC cautioned against duplicating the
work of international bodies, such as the World Trade Organization,
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the
Convention on Biological Diversity. NORWAY suggested that the
successor agreement include provisions on the property rights of
indigenous peoples. The EC called for keeping the agreement as a
commodity agreement. Arguing that the value of ES is unpredictable,
MALAYSIA suggested that the successor agreement focus on issues
currently addressed, such as poverty and illegal logging.
VENEZUELA said the successor agreement must address
sustainable development. COLOMBIA, supported by ECUADOR and PERU,
advocated an integrative approach. PERU stressed indigenous peoples’
GHANA, with PAPUA NEW GUINEA, GABON and the
PHILIPPINES, acknowledged the potential of tradable ES to finance
forest conservation and suggested that ITTO continue monitoring
developments in the ES market.
The US said it was open to discussing the issue, and
stressed the difficulty in balancing SFM and emerging issues.
SWITZERLAND called for an honest discussion of the challenges in
achieving SFM. ITTC Vice-Chair Jan McAlpine (US) said that ITTO’s
role in enhancing ES is discrete from discussions on whether the
ITTO should address the trade in ES. GUATEMALA asked the Secretariat
to prepare a concrete draft text on incorporating ES in the
INTERSESSIONAL WORKING GROUP: Chair Blaser
summarized the Curitiba Working Group report (ITTC(XXXV)/ 7). Chair
Blaser said Annex 6 of the report would be the main document used
during PrepCom II. He highlighted that the discussion should focus
on coniferous forests, and the extent to which non-timber forest
products and non-timber forest values are included in the ITTA,
1994. SWITZERLAND, supported by the EC and NORWAY, said the Council
should convene annually, proposed creating an Executive Board (EB),
indicated that the technical committees should be combined and
recommended that other international organizations be referenced in
the new agreement. NORWAY said the new agreement should include
guidance from the International Labour Organization on indigenous
peoples’ and workers’ rights. MALAYSIA, CHINA, PERU, URUGUAY and
GHANA wanted to know the EB’s role and composition before agreeing
to it. CHINA said it could consider supporting one annual Council
session, but noted that this change might affect the project cycle.
AUSTRALIA supported one annual Council session, the consolidation of
technical committees, the creation of an EB and the insertion of
stronger language on work with other international organizations.
The US requested the preparation of an action plan based on the
biennial work programme. The US supported an annual Council session;
the creation of an EB; and leaving general language on international
organizations. GUATEMALA said that existing language on voting
procedures is ambiguous. JAPAN said it was unsure about the extent
to which it can finance ITTO work under the next agreement. MALAYSIA
said that existing language on the participation of non-governmental
organizations was sufficient. TOGO noted that if there is a
reduction of Council meetings, it should be assured that ITTO
maintains its effectiveness.
AFTERNOON PLENARY SESSION
In the afternoon session, Chair Blaser invited
delegates to comment on the working document to be used in PrepCom
II. The document appears as Annex 6, Annotated Review of the ITTA,
1994, in the Report of the Inter-sessional Working Group on
Preparations for Negotiating a Successor Agreement to the ITTA, 1994
(ITTC(XXXV)/7). The ensuing discussion will be reported below on a
PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES: Aulikki Kauppila,
Consumer Group Spokesperson, noted that the group supported the
relevant existing text of the ITTA, 1994. GUATEMALA stated that
modifications were needed.
FINANCE: SWITZERLAND said that: regular
activities should be paid through annual assessed contributions; and
the biennial work programme should be financed by contributions to a
sub-account based on each member’s Gross Domestic Product. The EC
said the present system of contributions should be maintained. The
US underlined the need for incentives to encourage timely payments
of assessed contributions and to renew ITTO Objective 2000.
AUSTRALIA said incentives regarding the payment of arrears could be
linked to the project cycle. JAPAN said it preferred to use assessed
contributions for administrative, project and other ITTO activities.
NEW ZEALAND supported linking budgets to a biennial work programme.
NORWAY suggested modifying an existing trust fund to enable states
to donate unearmarked funds for projects. Chair Blaser recommended
the establishment of an informal group to discuss these issues,
particularly regarding Japan’s proposal.
OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES: The EC emphasized that
the organization should place greater emphasis on policy activities.
JAPAN stressed the importance of project activities. On policy work
of the organization, NEW ZEALAND and AUSTRALIA supported integrating
policy and project activities. SWITZERLAND and NORWAY emphasized,
and NEW ZEALAND opposed, that local and public participation should
mentioned under operational activities. NEW ZEALAND and AUSTRALIA
stated that the Council should not consider setting priorities and
limits to project proposals. MALAYSIA, the EC, NEW ZEALAND, the US,
CHINA, JAPAN and AUSTRALIA, opposed by BRAZIL and PAPUA NEW GUINEA,
proposed simplifying the structure of the Council by merging some of
the committees. VENEZUELA underscored the importance of maintaining
a balance of work between the Committees on Reforestation and Forest
Management, Forest Industry, and Economic Information and Market
STATISTICS, STUDIES AND INFORMATION: The US,
supported by SWITZERLAND, the EC and NEW ZEALAND, emphasized the
importance of member countries providing information and statistics.
MISCELLANEOUS: The United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that it would provide
necessary clarification on differential and remedial measures and
special measures. NORWAY, supported by NEW ZEALAND, suggested a
ten-year duration for the new agreement.
FINAL PROVISIONS: The US and the EC said the
duration of the new agreement should be defined, with the EC
suggesting a minimum duration of ten years and a mid-term assessment
of the agreement’s implementation. JAPAN noted that the duration of
the commodity agreement should be ten years. UNCTAD drew attention
to current work being undertaken by the UN Secretariat on
recommendations for updating and simplifying commodities agreements,
and said that advice on this matter will be given to ITTO prior to
the conclusion of PrepCom II.
DEFINITIONS: GUATEMALA questioned the
applicability of the definition of member, and, supported by the EC,
called for refining the definition of international organizations.
The EC, SWITZERLAND and PAPUA NEW GUINEA suggested inserting a
definition of sustainable forest management (SFM) and recommended
including coniferous forests from the new agreement. Referring to
the definition of tropical timber, GHANA, supported by GABON, said
it would prefer to delete the term non-coniferous and that the
definition of tropical timber products should not be overly
restrictive. NEW ZEALAND, VENEZUELA, CHINA, NIGERIA, the DEMOCRATIC
REPUBLIC OF CONGO, ECUADOR and NORWAY, urged the deletion of the term non-coniferous. The US, the
REPUBLIC OF CONGO, NORWAY and NIGERIA noted that because of the
different definitions of SFM, SFM should not be included in the
agreement. Summarizing the discussion, Chair Blaser said there
appeared to be a general consensus on the exclusion of the term
non-coniferous from the definition of tropical timber, and the need
for further discussions on whether to include a definition of SFM.
IN THE CORRIDORS
On the first day of PrepCom II, the corridors were
empty as discussions on the renegotiation kept delegates in the
Plenary Hall. Rumors have it, however, that, within their respective
caucuses, neither the producers nor consumers have reached common
positions on some major issues. These disparities seem to be a
source of anxiety for some members. Some have even noted that
countries remain entrenched in positions held prior to PrepCom I.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PREPCOM II: Delegates to PrepCom II will resume
their deliberations of the working document starting at 10:30 am in
the Sangyoboeki Centre in Yokohama.