16 April 2007
Economic and Social Council
ENV/DEV/919

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Forum on Forests

Sixth Session

2nd & 3rd Meetings* (AM & PM)


NEW AGREEMENT ON SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF WORLD’S FORESTS FOCUS,


AS UNITED NATIONS FORUM OPENS TWO-WEEK SESSION

 


Also Elaborating Multi-Year Work Programme 2007-2015


The United Nations Forum on Forests had, with its current session, an opportunity to strengthen its effectiveness and bolster international efforts to sustainably manage the world’s forests, Pekka Patosaari, Director of the Forum on Forests Secretariat, said this morning, as it opened its seventh session.


In a statement that he read to the opening session on behalf of José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Patosaari said that the Forum, by completing negotiation on a new agreement, will signal “a new era in “international forest policy”.  Also, by deciding on a clear and compelling work programme for the next eight years, the Forum will greatly help secure strong international commitment and accountability on forest issues.


Achieving international development commitments, including the Millennium Development Goals, required a new, more holistic approach to addressing the relationships linking people and the natural resource base, he continued.  Previous discussions at the Forum had highlighted how forest management was deeply intertwined with other sectors, requiring coordinated intersectoral approaches.  The recent Forum’s Ad Hoc Expert Group, meeting last December, had echoed the notion of sustainable forest management as a dynamic process in which different issues took precedence due to varying environmental, economic and political realities.


In order for national-level forest policy to be properly adopted and implemented, it must be relevant and understandably beneficial to those at the receiving end, he said.  To that end, coherent and predictable forest policies must recognize forest benefits.  In addition, supportive policies and an enabling environment were particularly important in attracting the private sector and creating much-needed forest markets and revenues from forest products and services.


He said that, to make forests contribute to the overall development of society as a whole, efficient and effective land tenure systems and access to forest resources were crucially important, particularly for local and indigenous peoples and communities.  Better control and ownership of forests gave people greater opportunities to capitalize on forest assets, and an even greater incentive to sustain their resources.  Thus, effective land tenure systems provided an economic incentive for sustainable forest management.  Deciding on a clear and compelling multi-year programme of work for the next eight years would greatly help to secure strong international commitment and accountability on forest issues.


Switzerland’s representative, agreeing that the Forum was uniquely positioned to move the international forest agenda, said it could only become a leader in catalyzing action for the sustainable use of forests for present and future generations if it adopted new, more effective working methods.  The Forum was about partnership, yet it had not treated its partners well.  It was very unfortunate that the text on enhanced cooperation provided for the session had been prepared without consulting other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, who should be full members of the Forum, as should the major groups.


She also underscored the importance of regional experiences and initiatives, adding that regional organizations should be free to decide how they wished to present their work during sessions of the Forum.  If the Forum did not wish to be accused of “looking at its belly button”, it must be relevant outside the forest sector, since partnership meant an exchange of good will from all sides.  That would be needed if countries were to commit to the implementation of the four objectives, upon which the session’s adoption of two important documents should be based.


The multi-year programme of work was the “sap” of the international arrangement on forests and should build a logical package to advance the sustainable management agenda, she said.  However, Switzerland was not a strong believer in the non-legally binding instrument, although it was ready to work positively in negotiations on that document.  Among the Swiss conditions were that it should be short and concise, otherwise the Forum would face the risk of renegotiating bits and pieces of Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/49.


The representative of the United States said the non-legally binding instrument should also have value added, and not simply repeat the Economic and Social Council resolutions 2006/49 and 2000/35.  It should identify new and additional measures if it was to realize the full impact of its potential.  It should also have two major components:  national commitments to be taken on domestically; and international commitments to be implemented regionally.


On the multi-year programme of work, she expressed the hope that it would be focused on topics relevant to the issues identified.  The United States attached great importance to good governance as fundamental to implementation.  More time should be spent on reflecting a real partnership with regional or subregional processes, or perspectives relevant to a focused number of issues for discussion.  There had also been confusion on the links between the two exercises; the multi-year programme of work should reflect the discussion on the relevant commitments outlined in the non-legally binding instrument.


The Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) stressed the essential importance of moving from dialogue to action, noting that, although not all expectations could be met, a great deal of progress had been made in many areas since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.  One of the critical issues to be addressed in the seventh session was the need for resources for the implementation of sustainable forest management in developing countries.  Members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests supported capacity-building, provided advice and information, promoted exchange of experience and, in many cases, offered direct financial support.


He said a number of emerging challenges required urgent action, including finding ways to increase the forestry responses to climate change through adaptation and mitigation, realizing benefits from forest ecosystem services, supporting law-enforcement efforts and making international trade in forest products compatible with sustainable development.  It was also necessary to support sustainable forest management in countries that were not forest-rich and to ensure that forest resources continued to support and enhance the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities worldwide.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Pakistan, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russian Federation, Australia, Colombia (on behalf of he Amazonian Cooperation Treaty Organization), India, Guatemala, Japan, Fiji, Cuba, China and Norway.


The Forum also heard from a representative of major groups, the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).


Participants in the opening session also heard M.S. KABAM, Minister for Forestry of Indonesia, speak about the country-led initiative in support of the multi-year programme of work, which his country and Germany hosted jointly in Bali last February.


They also heard Mr. Patosaari introduce a note by the Forum on Forests Secretariat on the non-legally binding instrument and the Secretary-General’s report on the multi-year programme of work 2007-2015.


Also this afternoon, Jorge Illueca, Principal Officer of the Forum on Forests Secretariat, presented an overview on the preparation of the revised composite draft text for developing a non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests.  Mahendra Joshi, Senior Officer of the Secretariat provided additional details on the multi-year programme of work.


In other business, the Forum heard presentations by Forum on Forests Secretariat officials on the agenda item “enhanced cooperation”, including a presentation on the “Collaborative Partnership on Forests Framework 2007”.  The representatives of Australia, Guatemala and Mexico asked several questions in a brief interactive exchange following those presentations.


The United Nations Forum on Forests will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday 17 April.


Background


The United Nations Forum on Forests opened its two-week, seventh session this morning, which will be devoted to negotiating a new international agreement on sustainable management of the world’s forests and elaborating a new multi-year programme of work for the period 2007-2015.  [For more background on the session, see Press Release ENV/DEV/918 of 13 April 2007.]


Statements


The Forum’s Chairman, HANS HOOGEVEEN ( Netherlands), in an opening statement, noted that, with the environment high on the international political agenda, the forest agenda was entering a new era in which the international community needed to focus on the implementation of sustainable forest management on the ground.  The session would be historic, as it would set and shape the international forest agenda for the decade to come.  The international forest arena was at a critical juncture.  In the new era, the world had to make international promises a reality, and the session had the great potential to leave a long-lasting legacy on international forest policy and cooperation.  Continuing, he said the adoption of the non-legally binding instrument and the Forum’s new multi-year programme of work would define the pathway to the future, along with the shared global objectives on forests.  With a well-defined pathway, the Forum would also be able to enhance the contribution of forests to the achievement of internationally-agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.  “Let us not forget that the livelihoods of over a billion of the world’s poor were at stake”, he said, adding that some 13 million hectares of forests worldwide were lost every year.


He said he was convinced that there was tremendous interest, energy and drive to make progress at the session.  The non-legally binding instrument and the multi-year programme of work -- the two main issues before the Forum -– would be discussed in two parallel working groups in the next two weeks.  While members had high expectations, the general public, common citizens, scientists and farmers, students and workers, rural populations and urbanites had even higher hopes that the session would succeed in agreeing to a new forest regime that would effectively bring the world together in solving the problems the world was currently facing.  “The responsibility is on us,” he said.  The Forum would have to deliver beyond rhetoric.  During the session, the Forum needed to deliver on its promises to finalize negotiations on an international instrument and the multi-year programme of work, or risk becoming irrelevant as a policy body.


The session needed to adopt the non-legally binding instrument, he said.  That instrument should set a definite course of action toward making progress in achieving the global objectives, promoting international cooperation on all aspects of sustainable forest management, including technical and financial cooperation, capacity building and good governance.  For an effective instrument, the Forum would have to find a common understanding on the means of implementation for sustainable forest management.  The sixth session had already agreed on the need to mobilize significant new and additional resources, provided by public, private, domestic and international sources.  Central to the decision on the international instrument and the achievement of the Global Objectives on Forests was the issue of means of implementation, including financial resources.  Deadlocked on the financial instrument for many years, the seventh session would be the moment to solve the issue once and forever.  It was clear that the instrument needed a financial mechanism for its implementation.  Common ground could be found in the direction of broadening the scope of financers of sustainable forest management.  Financial support from the private sector and other emerging sources had not been harnessed to its full potential, he added.


Regarding the adoption of a multi-year programme of work for the next nine years, he said there seemed to be a broad understanding that the programme of work should place a strong emphasis on implementation and the achievement of the global objectives on forests.  A number of issues were also crucial, such as means of implementation, governance, stakeholder participation and emerging issues.  Enhanced cooperation, and policy and programme coordination was another important theme of the session.  The bureau had invited, for the first time, the chairs of the member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) to participate in the session.  Without the active engagement of civil society organizations and major groups, the Forum would not be able to make progress.  The General Assembly had decided to commemorate 2011 as the International Year of Forests and had requested the Forum and its Secretariat to play a key role in launching the year.


The Forum provided a unique opportunity to work globally in order to bring desirable change locally on forests, he concluded.  The spotlight was on the Forum, which needed to work in a spirit of collective good, for forests, countries, as well as for the common good of the planet and the international community.  He had no doubt that the Forum could accomplish that without compromising national interests.  They were not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary.  “We have only one planet to share, and we must ensure its health and sustainability”, he said.  Together, common aspirations for the implementation of sustainable forest management could become a reality.


PEKKA PATOSAARI, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, conveyed a message of support and best wishes for a successful outcome to the session from José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.


Reading a statement on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General, he recalled that, when the sixth session of the Forum had agreed on the four shared global objectives on forests last year, it had also established common ground for its future work.  The global objectives were indeed a strong political commitment by Member States to advance sustainable forest management, to curb deforestation and to enhance the contribution of forests to the achievement of international development goals.  Also, the usefulness of the concept of sustainable forest management had been broadly recognized and the supporting policy framework had been put into practice in many Member States since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.


Just as the concept of sustainable forest management belonged within the overall conceptual framework of sustainable development, the Forum’s work was part of the wider United Nations development policy framework, he said.  At its seventh session, the Forum continued that line of work, institutionalizing the intergovernmental process and bringing together all relevant actors.  The Forum was now in its seventh year of working to provide the necessary policy development, guidance and support for national implementation of sustainable forest management.  Over the past six years, Member States had negotiated to establish the institutional framework, and the Forum’s work had increasingly become an integral part of the broader development agenda.

In order for national-level forest policy to be properly adopted and implemented, it must be relevant and understandably beneficial to those at the receiving end, he said.  To that end, there was a need for coherent and predictable forest policies that recognized forest benefits.  Supportive policies and an enabling environment were particularly important in attracting the private sector, and in creating much-needed forest markets and revenues from forest products and services.


He said that, to make forests contribute to the overall development of society as a whole, efficient and effective land tenure systems and access to forest resources were crucially important, particularly for local and indigenous peoples and communities.  When people had better control and ownership of forests, they had greater opportunities to capitalize on forest assets, and an even greater incentive to sustain their resources.  Thus, effective land tenure systems provided an economic incentive for sustainable forest management.  Internal conflicts and illegal harvesting of forest resources tended to go hand in hand and illegally harvested timber was often exported to finance violent activities.  Such crises were often beyond the coping ability of national Governments and required intergovernmental support.


Those were central elements when considering how to achieve greater coherence and synergies in the normative, analytical and operational work of the United Nations, he said.  That required action towards strengthening productive linkages between the efforts of the Forum and those of the major forest-related international organizations, institutions and convention secretariats that composed the Collaborative Partnership.  Correspondingly, it also meant that the Forum should pull together a wide range of forest-related processes, institutions and instruments, as well as major stakeholders, to jointly address economic, social and environmental issues linked to forests in a much more integrated manner.


A number of regional initiatives, including criteria and indicator processes, regional partnerships and collaborative networks, had been helping to advance those forest policy processes, he said.  The regional arms of various United Nations bodies, including the Organization’s regional commissions, had a potential role in building the Forum’s global-regional interface, and to support their mutual coordination and provide their inputs for the implementation of the regional aspects of the Forum’s work.  That new interface could also help to mainstream the regional and subregional partners into the broader development agenda.


He said that, when considering the multitude of forest-related interest groups, the growing concerns for human and intellectual property rights, tensions on the rural-urban interface, and often divergent priorities between local and global interests, it became clear that a mechanism was needed for greater interaction between various stakeholders and sectors that had an impact upon forests and the forest-dependent poor.  The Forum’s new working modality would include mechanisms to deepen global-regional interactions, address emerging priority issues and strengthen stakeholder engagement.  The recent adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the International Year of Forests (2011) provided yet another vehicle for the Secretariat to work with Member States and relevant forest-related organizations and major groups to promote public awareness and action in support of sustainable forest management efforts worldwide.


Achieving international development commitments, including the Millennium Development Goals, required a new, more holistic approach to addressing the interlinkages between people and the natural resource base, he said.  Previous discussions at the Forum had highlighted how forest management was deeply intertwined with other sectors, requiring coordinated intersectoral approaches.  Discussions at the recent United Nations Forum on Forests Ad Hoc Expert Group, meeting in December, had echoed the notion of sustainable forest management as a dynamic process, in which different issues took precedence, due to varying environmental, economic and political realities.


The current session now had an opportunity to strengthen and broaden the Forum’s effectiveness and that of the International Arrangement on Forests, he said.  Deciding on a clear and compelling multi-year programme of work for the next eight years would greatly help to secure strong international commitment and accountability on forest issues.  With its revised working methods, the Forum should discuss ways to provide better guidance to its many partners for the successful implementation of its policy decisions, as well as means and mechanisms to facilitate implementation.  The instrument itself would be a turning point, signalling a new era of international forest policy.  It would stimulate implementation and invigorate dialogue at the global, regional, national and local levels to address emerging issues affecting forests.  It would reinforce practical national measures to integrate forests more closely with other cross-sectoral issues.  Moreover, it would enhance international cooperation and support for a new people-centred forest policy.


MATTHIAS SCHWOERER, Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the documents before the Forum, including the draft text for negotiations on the multi-year programme of work, provided a solid basis for addressing key issues.  In addition, the Union thanked the Government of Indonesia for organizing the country-led initiative in Bali last February, which would provide valuable input for deliberations on the multi-year programme of work.


The international community continued to be confronted with the urgent need to reverse deforestation and forest degradation worldwide, he said, noting that the outcome of the seventh session of the United Nations Forum on Forests would be decisive in determining whether the Forum could provide impetus for the implementation of sustainable forest management at all levels.  The European Union was ready to reach final agreement on the text of the instrument and the multi-year programme of work.


He said the Union was pleased that the starting point for talks on the instrument would be the text prepared by the Bureau and the Secretariat following the meeting of the expert group last December.  In order to make the most efficient use of limited time, the Forum should direct its attention to substance rather than form.  The Union saw considerable scope for shortening the text to make it more coherent, and was particularly open to discussing suggestions to that end.  A clear and concise text would give the instrument both greater political appeal and the necessary authority for effective implementation on the ground.


Turning to the multi-year programme of work, he said the Bali meeting had resulted in very positive recommendations upon which the Forum could build.  The Union supported the view that the programme of work should engage the world’s forest community around the global objectives on forests and a new international instrument on sustainable forest management.  The Union considered, furthermore, that the Forum should, in the future, focus more on a limited number of politically relevant and pressing issues which could be clustered under broader themes.  As for the modalities of future sessions, the Union was in favour of reducing the time allocated for negotiating and of dedicating most of its attention to assessing implementation, including discussions on input by the regions, dialogue with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, especially its science and technology initiative, and improved dialogue with the major groups.


Mr. JAMIL ( Pakistan) said his delegation attached great importance to the protection and sustainable use of forests to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including the goal of poverty eradication.  The Forum was at a critical juncture in charting a way forward.  He welcomed efforts to formulate a non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests and hoped the Forum’s efforts would go a long way in promoting sustainable forest management.  Efforts should aim at addressing the root causes of global deforestation.  The instrument should be based on the principle of achieving global objectives, including, among other things, by involving custodians and forest-dependent communities in local planning; promoting a system of incentives; integrating forest accounting into national economies; integrating forestry into poverty reduction strategy papers; and providing clean fuel alternatives.


The international community should step up efforts to enable all countries to comply with the instrument, he added.  It should collaborate for the restoration of critical ecosystems, including dry lands and mangroves.  Financial and technical resources should be provided to developing countries in their efforts to fulfil their obligations and to achieve global objectives on forests.  He also looked forward to the elaboration of a multi-year programme of work, which would, among other things, draw on elements in the Rio Declaration.  The work programme should be comprehensive and include the needs of low-forest-cover countries, progress on the implementation of the non-legally binding instrument and the achievement of SFM goals, including by developing clear-cut indicators.  It should also be flexible enough to give due consideration to emerging issues. 


He said his Government, within its limited means, was making efforts to provide adequate financial resources to achieve increasing forest cover.  The Forum and the Economic and Social Council provided a platform for overseeing the implementation of national commitments on forests.  The agenda could only be achieved with collective efforts.  The overarching effort should be the promotion of sustainable forest management for all types of forests.


ANDRÉ-JULES MADINGOU ( Gabon) said that tomorrow, in the statement to be read out on behalf of the Africa Group, the Forum would hear the region’s voice regarding the need for funding and clear, credible instruments involving all stakeholders, with the aim of ensuring effectiveness.  Some of the elements in Gabon’s national statement would be included in the African Group intervention, which could not be delivered today as problems had been encountered in obtaining passes to enter the Secretariat building.  The African Group statement would, therefore, be delivered tomorrow.


DIDACE PEMBE, Minister for Environment ( Democratic Republic of the Congo), said that, for more than a decade, the world had sought an instrument to serve as an international legal framework for sustainable forest management, a goal to which the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development had already made a contribution.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and the United Nations Forum on Forests had been working since 1995 to elaborate a framework, and most States parties had already agreed on the nature of a non-binding legal instrument.


He said numerous calls had been made by countries and regions, including the African Group, on the substance of the draft text, negotiations on which would continue during the present session, at the end of which, hopefully, the draft text would be adopted.


Stressing his country’s readiness to adopt an international instrument, he said that, despite its 135 million hectares, the Congolese forests did not contribute significantly to the elimination of poverty and other internationally-agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.  The Government had sent him to the session not only to better understand the draft text, but also to help strengthen the necessary political will regarding the need to improve international cooperation and coordination.


He said that, in addition to international commitments, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was committed to fighting the destruction of forest cover, most notably through forest protection and reforestation, by stepping up protection measures and by increasing, from 9 per cent to 15 per cent, the proportion of lands where forests were protected.  It was also committed to strengthening governance and implementation of forest-related laws at the national and subregional levels.  However, the country needed effective funding to ensure sustainable forest management and the implementation of the objectives contained in the present instrument.


OLEG SHAMANOV ( Russian Federation) noted that one of his country’s goals was to step up activities within the Forum in order to reach important results.  It was crucial to consolidate international consensus in United Nations work on forests.  The main objective of the session was the adoption of a non-legally binding instrument and the multi-year programme of work.  Key to elaborating that document during the current session was the use of the results reached during previous rounds of negotiations on the issue.  He supported the outline of the document in the consolidated draft of the ad hoc expert group meeting in December and the revised draft of the text.  In preparing the multi-year programme of work, it was necessary to take into account the discussion in Bali. 


He said he shared the proposal, contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the structure and thematic contents of the programme, as it reflected the positions of the different countries in a balanced manner.  It was important for the work programme to reflect the strategic goals of the United Nations mechanism on forests.  It was also important to ensure flexibility, in order to introduce clarifications in light of ongoing work.  It was also important to include the preparation of texts for the Economic and Social Council annual ministerial reviews, as well as the 2012-2013 session of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the General Assembly’s review of the Millennium Development Goals.


To ensure the dynamic functioning of the Forum and the mechanism on forests, the multi-year programme of work should include, in between regular sessions, the holding of intergovernmental meetings of the Forum, he said.  That would contribute to ensuring clear organizational action between global and regional components of the United Nations mechanism on forests and promote dialogue and synergies between regional and subregional components.  The Russian delegation was convinced that the seventh session would be able to resolve the problems it faced, opening a new page in the history of international cooperation to solve the urgent problems related to forests.


TONY BARTLETT ( Australia), noting that the ad-hoc expert meeting and the Bali country-led initiative had provided a strong foundation for work, said many issues still must be resolved.  It was important for the Forum to have a stronger focus on action, he said, highlighting Australia’s recent announcement of a A$200 million international forests initiative, which would include programmes to reduce deforestation, increase sustainable forest management and facilitate reforestation.


Deforestation accounted for 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, he said.  Australia’s initiative would include a A$100 million of additional official development assistance to work with developing countries, particularly in South East Asia and the South Pacific, to help build technical capacity for managing forests and encouraging reforestation.  In addition, A$100 million of new funding would be provided for technology that would help developing countries produce assessments of forest resources, among other things.


He called for greater commitment at the intergovernmental level, particularly by adopting a non-legally binding instrument on forests and having a strong multi-year programme of work.  The non-legally binding instrument should provide a greater commitment to implementing sustainable forest management, notably by strengthening wording in section V and including a clear high-level articulation of what sustainable forest management involved.


Australia remained concerned at the proposed preparatory meetings, the mid-term review and the high level ministerial segments, he said.  His country strongly supported a regional approach for implementing sustainable forest management.  He called for a meeting later this year of representatives from existing regional organizations, the Forum Secretariat and interested countries to develop practical modalities, as it was important for regional organizations and the Forum to have a two-way relationship.


Within the multi-year programme of work, greater attention was needed on the role forest certification could play in sustainable forest management, he said.   Australia had prepared a short non-paper on that issue and was interested in facilitating a country-led initiative that would contribute to the talks for the Forum’s next session.  Australia was concerned at the proposed work programme for the current session, and urged the Bureau to consider shortening or postponing some sessions, such as discussions on the International Year, to enable working groups to begin their work.


CLAUDIA BLUM (Colombia), speaking on behalf of the Amazonian Cooperation Treaty Organization, noted that, for the Amazonian countries, a region covering some 758 million hectares in eight countries and representing some 56 of the world’s tropical forests, the Forum represented a stage of the highest priority for the promotion of the protection of environmental resources and the sustainable development of countries.  In that context, the seventh session provided an opportunity for the Amazonian countries to consolidate multilateral consensus under the frame of reference that must guide future work on forests.  She reaffirmed the Organization’s willingness to work on the task of agreeing on the non-legally binding instrument as a set of voluntary guidelines to strengthen coordination of international actions aimed at realizing global objectives on forests.  She also valued the definition of the multi-year programme of work as a tool to guide the instrument’s implementation.


Regarding the Forum’s current session, she reaffirmed the relevance of principles 2 and 7 of the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development, which referred to the sovereignty of States over their natural resources and their common but differentiated responsibility in light of their different contributions to the degradation of the global environment.  Those principles shared the base for the process that would take place during the Forum, and they could be tools aimed both at reaching global environmental objectives and, in particular, the eradication of poverty.


Turning to the non-legally binding instrument, she said the Amazonian members fully shared the four global objectives in terms of forests, agreed to at the sixth session and contained in the Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/49.  The non-legally binding instrument must focus on identifying the means to implement those objectives.  She did not believe it was adequate to use the instrument as a mechanism to establish quantifiable and temporary goals for forest administration.  Rather, its objective must be to support national policies for sustainable forest management and promote international cooperation in supporting its implementation.  The seven thematic elements for sustainable forest management could be useful in assessing the implementation of the global objectives.  They could not, however, be considered as an end, in and of themselves, and should not be used as indicators of the fulfilment of the non-legally binding instrument, or as parameters in drafting reports.


She said it was not appropriate to create international mechanisms to monitor the fulfilment of the instrument, bearing in mind its non-binding nature.  The drafting and presentation of reports must be voluntary and dependent on the procurement of resources necessary for their development.  The Amazonian Cooperation Treaty Organization did not believe it was adequate to introduce concepts in the instrument that could justify discriminatory trade practices, such as illegal logging.  The non-legally binding instrument must support countries in the implementation of sustainable forest management.  The creation of a fund or financial mechanism was essential to make possible the allocation of new resources to a collective action in favour of sustainable forest management. 


The approval of the multi-year programme of work was a priority for the current session, she said.  It was also necessary to guarantee coherence between it and the non-legally binding instrument.  The programme must be guided by the four global objectives on forests and must be restructured in a way that guaranteed real programmes with relation to them.  In that context, the action proposals of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests must be fully considered in defining measures for the implementation of the global objectives.


ANSAR AHMED ( India) said his country had formulated its national forest policy in 1988, four years before the Rio Earth Summit, which embodied all elements of sustainable forest management.  India treated its forests primarily as a social and environmental resource, and only secondarily as a commercial resource.  In spite of catering to 16 per cent of the world’s human population, the country was able to maintain about one fourth of its land mass under forests and tree cover.


It was difficult to stop the degradation of forests without aggravating the poverty of the people living in and around them, he said.  It had become more relevant to enhance the contribution of forests in alleviating the poverty, particularly in the forest-fringe villages.  Keeping that fact under consideration, India had enacted legislation for recognizing habitation and occupation rights for the purpose of forest, wildlife and biodiversity conservation, and alleviating the poverty of the people living in and around forests.


He said the key gaps in implementing sustainable forest management, particularly for developing countries, were the need for new and additional financial resources; the creation of a global forest fund to finance national implementation of sustainable forest management; the transfer of environmentally-sound technologies to developing countries; capacity-building of the human resources involved in sustainable forest management, particularly local communities in developing countries; the need for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to fund implementation of activities aimed at achieving sustainable forest management; and an innovative mechanism to mobilize funds at the national level for achieving sustainable forest management.


LUIS ERNESTO BARRERA GARAVITO ( Guatemala) said his country had taken an active part in the process.  The Forum was being asked to agree on a political framework that supported sustainable forest management.  Cooperation at the global level was needed, in that regard.  Countries needed to be assisted in helping to turn around the tendency towards deforestation.  Transparent and fair markets were needed, not more red tape and bureaucracy.  It was also necessary to look carefully at the non-legally binding instrument in terms of bioenergy.  The instrument must be in line with new trends.  His country was committed to cooperating to reach real results.


YUKIHIRO TAKEYA ( Japan) said forests were important property.  While discussion had been ongoing for some two decades now, effective solutions to the issue had not been found, a huge amount of forests had disappeared.  He strongly urged the Forum to discuss how to promote sustainable forest management.  The Forum’s responsibility was quite heavy, and good results had been achieved in previous sessions.  The Forum now had the task of discussing the non-legally binding instrument and the multi-year programme of work, building on the previous resolution.  He strongly hoped that the realistic, practical and respectful approaches shown at the previous session would continue during the current session, marking a turning point in the achievement of global sustainable forest management.  It was necessary to give priority to the importance of monitoring the assessment of the state of forests in each region of the world, taking into account the seven thematic elements. 


Sharing information on the actual happenings on the ground would better determine what actions needed to be taken, he said.  The issue of illegal logging, which was becoming a matter of international concern, should be addressed in the International Arrangement on Forests.  An expert meeting in Tokyo on illegal logging had, among other things, identified practical barriers to resolving the issue and exploring the way forward.  A second meeting would take place next year.  He stressed the importance of regional mechanisms to promote regional and global sustainable forest management.  He expressed his readiness to work with participants in a constructive manner to achieve the Forum’s mandate during the current session.


NAZARIO FERNÁNDEZ BIOSCA ( Cuba) said the multi-year programme of work and the non-binding legal instrument were particularly important for developing countries, among which Cuba found itself.  The implementation of sustainable forest management at the national level required solutions for the needs of those countries, which needed access to means of implementation and new sources of funding.  That subject had been discussed since the inception of the Forum in 2001, though it had proven difficult to increase the levels of official development assistance allocated to forestry.  Any progress would depend on actually tackling the issues.


QU GUILIN ( China) said the 15-year-long negotiation on forest issues had raised recognition of the role of forests and awareness of the status of sustainable forest management, which had started to become the basic principle guiding forest policy and the means to maintaining global biodiversity.  However, the forest situation remained grim, with reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) citing the grave consequences that would affect certain regions and countries facing serious reductions in forest cover.


He said the lack of resources and law-enforcement capacity to deal with illegal logging and other such situations left such countries facing a great challenge.  With global forest development at a crossroads, the Forum should conclude and adopt the non-binding legal instrument as a substantive and further step in the commitment to lay a sound foundation for the realization of global sustainable forest development.  Sustainable forest management should have greater status in the wider sustainable development agenda.


Mr. SLETNES ( Norway) noted that the Forum needed to complete two main tasks in the next two weeks.  When developing the multi-year programme of work, the focus should be on the global objectives on forests.  It should also address a limited number of politically relevant issues.  The Forum sessions should have a clear thematic focus, and should differ from the Forum’s second, third and fourth sessions, which had been characterized by complex agendas.  Climate change and Sustainable Forest Management should be addressed.  The work programme should also be flexible enough to contain new and emerging issues.  Also, the Forum needed to restructure its sessions and develop new ways of working.  Expert presentations should become important parts of Forum sessions, as they would facilitate greater involvement of other stakeholders in the discussions.  He had yet to be convinced, however, of the benefit of convening intergovernmental preparatory meetings.  Several relevant forest events were convened on a regular basis.  Input from regional processes should be used as a basis for preparation.


On the non-legally binding instrument, he said he hoped it would specify the international community’s expectations regarding national activities and international cooperation to promote sustainable forest management.  It could be built partly on agreed texts.  The discussion in the Forum should concentrate on substance with the potential to add value to what had already been agreed on.


Ms. VERMONT ( Switzerland) said the Forum was uniquely positioned to move the international forest agenda.  It could become a leader in catalyzing action for the sustainable use of forests for present and future generations.  It could do that, however, only if it changed.  In that regard, she said the Forum needed to adopt new, more effective ways of working.  The Forum was about partnership.  Yet, it had not treated its partners well.  It was very unfortunate that the text provided for the meeting on enhanced cooperation had been prepared without consulting other Collaborative Partnership on Forests members.  The Collaborative Partnership on Forests members should be full members of the Forum.  The major groups should also be in the room as full partners.  Their experience was essential and the Forum could not do without them.  Regional experiences and initiatives were important to the Forum’s work.  Regional organizations needed freedom in how they wanted to present their work during Forum sessions.  If the Forum did not want to be accused of looking at its belly button, it needed to be relevant outside of the forest sector.  The Forum was a partnership, which meant exchanging good will from all sides, and that would be needed if countries were to commit to implementing the four objectives.


The session would adopt two important documents, which should be based on the four global objectives and the seven thematic elements, she said.  She was interested in a strong multi-year programme of work as the implementation tool for the 2006 resolution.  The multi-year programme of work was the “sap” of the international arrangement on forests and should build a logical package to advance the sustainable management agenda.  Although she was not a strong believer in the non-legally binding instrument, she was ready to work positively in negotiations.  She did have some conditions, however, notably that it should be short and concise -- not more than 10 pages.  If not, the Forum faced the risk of renegotiating bits and pieces of the 2006 resolution. 


MARA MURILLO CORREA ( Mexico) said her country had taken an active part in the international debate on forest issues, which involved matters of national security.  In past sessions, it had been thought that negotiations on the non-binding legal instrument and improving the multi-year programme of work would be finalized during the seventh session.  A binding instrument would be better for the achievement of sustainable forest management.  However, Mexico would insist on clear, measurable national objectives and benchmarks to measure progress.  In terms of the global objectives, there was a need to push forward the implementation of voluntary instruments.  The organizations making up the Collaborative Partnership on Forests needed a very clear role in the process and there was a need to avoid the establishment of new bodies that would achieve only duplication.


Ms. CASWELL ( United States) said she had heard the seventh session described as a “now or never meeting”, Japan had called it a “turning point”, and China had mentioned the word “crossroads”.  The United States agreed with those assessments.  The non-binding legal instrument was like the four “Cs” presented by a legal panel at the sixth session.  It was “clear”, “concise”, reflected “consensus” and had “continuity” over time.  However, it was important to add two “Cs”; the document should also be internally “consistent” and “coherent”. 


She said the instrument should have value added, and not simply repeat the Economic and Social Council resolutions of 2000 or 2006.  It should identify new and additional measures if it was to have the impact it could have.  It should also have two major components:  national commitments to be taken on domestically; and commitments to be taken on internationally and implemented regionally. 


On the multi-year programme of work, she expressed the hope that it would focus on a limited number of interrelated issues, or a “flagship” theme, in the words of the representative of Switzerland.  It must be focused on topics relevant to the issues identified.  The United States attached great importance to good governance as fundamental to implementation.  There had been no paper on working modalities reflecting a real partnership with regional or subregional processes, or perspectives relevant to a focused number of issues for discussion.  More time should be spent on that.  There had also been confusion on the linkages between the two exercises.  The multi-year programme of work should reflect the discussion on the relevant commitments outlined in the non-binding legal instrument.


JAN HEINO, Chair, Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), agreed that it was essential to move from dialogue to action.  Although not all expectations could be met, a great deal of progress had been made in many areas since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.  Progress made in establishing the four shared global objectives on forests at the sixth session was an important signal, uniting the international community behind a common endeavour, namely sustainable management.  The new instrument, together with the new multi-year work programme, would further operationalize work towards achieving the global objectives. 


One of the critical issues to be addressed in the session was the need for resources for the implementation of sustainable forest management in developing countries, he said.  Members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests supported capacity-building, provided advice and information, promoted exchange of experience and, in many cases, offered direct financial support.  They also realized the potential for even greater cooperation.  Recent initiatives showed the commitment among members to working collaboratively and supporting Member States efforts to implement agreed actions.  A number of challenges had emerged that required urgent action, including finding ways to increase the forestry responses to climate change through adaptation and mitigation, realizing benefits from forest ecosystem services, supporting efforts in law enforcement and making international trade in forest products compatible with sustainable development.  It was also necessary to support sustainable forest management in countries that were not forest-rich and to ensure that forest resources continued to support and enhance the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities world-wide.


The Collaborative Partnerships on Forests members jointly possessed a tremendous power for assisting countries in enhancing sustainable forest management, he said.  Without adequate resources, CPF members could not reach the Forum’s expectations.  He hoped the Forum members would provide clear indications, through the governing bodies of partnership members to support forest related work, as well as through direct support to partnership-joint initiatives.  The partnership members were ready to support the Forum’s commitments. 


Ms. LAMA, a representative of major groups, said she shared a sense of optimism about the potential of the non-legally binding instrument to be a new beginning.  To be historically significant, the non-legally binding instrument would have to be a force for reducing deforestation while enhancing healthy forest ecosystems, promoting sustainable livelihoods, improving forest governance by specifically addressing corruption in all its forms and reducing poverty for all forest-dependent people.  To achieve those goals, major groups had identified three areas of concern, namely, governance, benefit sharing and policy, and programme implementation.  Good governance was a prerequisite for sustainable forest management, requiring effective forest institutions, supported by national legislation, proper budgets and appropriate polices. 


She said the non-legally binding instrument could promote better governance by addressing the issue of land tenure and by promoting land tenure mechanisms that recognized the rights of indigenous people and local communities, and provide for a timely dispute resolution process that protected the rights of the most vulnerable social groups.  She was also concerned about the ability of corruption to undermine genuine attempts to achieve sustainable forest management.  Governance must also ensure fairness and equitable sharing of the wealth of forests.  Markets tended not to recognize the sociocultural values of communities or forests, creating conflict and contributing to the displacement of indigenous people.  The power of donors and large intergovernmental agencies must address the issue of benefit sharing.  The major groups would like to see the Forum help shape the consensus needed to accelerate the transfer of environmentally sound technology, building capacity for education, and expanding collaboration opportunities among the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests members, by offering more specific direction and tasks.   Just as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been controversial when it had been developed, the non-legally binding instrument must be equally bold if it was to represent historic advancement for forest-dependent countries and people everywhere.


SAMUELA LAGATAKI ( Fiji) said remoteness and size was the key factor to Fiji’s development.  In that context, it was vitally important for Fiji to work with various organizations to continue to foster sustainable development in the management of its forest resources.  Official development assistance and technology transfers would play a vital role in implementing the multi-year work programme and the global objectives.  Acknowledging efforts to strengthen the regional position of the Pacific countries in sustainable forest management, he said Fiji would continue to strongly support the Forum’s work, including ad hoc expert meetings.  Fiji looked forward to contributing to the Forum’s negotiations on the non-binding legal instrument and the multi-year programme of work.


PIOTR BORKOWSKI, of the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe, welcomed the Forum’s recognition of the potential role of regional initiatives in the future non-legally binding instrument and multi-year programme of work.  The pan-European process had acted as an interface between the national and international levels, providing feedback on national experiences with global and international policy fora.  It had also played a significant role in translating international policies for national groups.  Sustainable forest management was an evolving concept that needed to encompass new challenges.  Sustainable forest management should be linked with developments in other policy areas.  The role of the policy sector needed to be strengthened.  New challenges were arising for the forest sector in Europe, including the issue of energy generation.  Such challenges would be addressed at an upcoming ministerial conference in Poland.  The ministerial declaration it would adopt was currently being discussed by a wide range of stakeholders.  Firm collaboration between international organizations, civil society, landowners and industrial workers was essential.


JAN HEINO, of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), hoped the session would be a benchmark towards sustainable forest management.  FAO had been a firm supporter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, the International Forum on Forests and the Forum, and would continue its commitment in that regard.  In considering FAO’s future role, he noted that the organization provided a global picture of evolution of the forest sector in several ways, including the regional Forestry Outlook Studies.  It also supported the forest sector by supporting countries in national forest development, as well as by providing analysis and capacity building and a venue for dialogue.  FAO was ready to proceed with other similar tools for implementing sustainable forest management.  FAO had also undertaken strategic planning with several organs on mutually supportive joint work.  In addition to its regular budget, FAO had a number of trust fund arrangements in support of sustainable forest management.  Such existing structures should be strengthened.


He added that FAO was ready to continue to support the Forum’s work through the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests.  The organization looked forward to the adoption of a strong instrument and an innovative multi-year work programme that would mobilize financial resources for the implementation of sustainable forest management.  The focus must be action on the ground.


Mr. PATOSAARI, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, introducing a note on the non-legally binding instrument and the Secretary-General’s report on the multi-year programme of work 2007-2015, said the four global objectives on forests sought to:  reverse the loss of forest cover worldwide and increase efforts to prevent forest degradation; enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits; increase significantly the area of sustainably managed forests, including protected forests, and increase the proportion of forest products derived from them; and reverse the decline in official development assistance for sustainable forest management and mobilize significantly increased new and additional financial resources from all sources for the implementation of sustainable forest management.


Taking into account new realities and challenges, the Forum’s sixth session had added three more principal functions to the six already contained in Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/35, he said.  The new functions included:  enhancement of the contribution of forests to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals; encouragement and assistance for the implementation of national forest conservation strategies and an increase in the area of forests under sustainable forest management; and to strengthen interaction among the Forum, regional and subregional organizations and major groups.


The outcome of the Forum’s sixth session contained recommendations on financing for sustainable forest management, including strengthening aid flows and Global Environment Facility funding for sustainable forest management.  The agreement at the sixth session also called for a stronger role for the Forum in providing guidance to the voluntary Collaborative Partnership on Forests, as well as to improve enhanced collaboration and policy and programme coordination, develop more coherent policies, supporting the principles of system-wide coherence, and to further develop close partnerships with the multilateral environmental agreements and the private sector.


He said the proposed multi-year programme of work focused on a number of critical issues contained in the instrument that required urgent attention, including reinforcing national policies and measures for implementing sustainable forest management; means of implementation; reinforcing the conceptual framework of the seven thematic elements of sustainable forest management; monitoring, assessment and reporting; and enhancing international cooperation in support of sustainable forest management at the global and regional levels.


The basic premise for the Secretary-General’s report, he said, was that the multi-year programme of work should reflect the key elements of Economic and Social Council resolutions 2000/35 and 2006/49 in the scheduling of tasks and issues to be addressed by the Forum from the present until 2015.  They included nine principal functions of the international management of forests; four global objectives on forests; a non-legally-binding instrument; means of implementation and a possible financial mechanism; a high-level ministerial segment; multi-stakeholder dialogue and public participation; and enhanced cooperation, including guidance to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.  The multi-year programme of work should also incorporate preparatory work, awareness-building activities and events organized in celebration of the International Year of Forests 2011, as the General Assembly had specifically designated the Forum as the focal point for implementation of the International Year.


*     The first meeting was covered in Press Release ENV/DEV/884 of 24 February 2006.


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For information media • not an official record