2004 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE WANGARI MAATHAI TELLS UN FORUM ‘FROM SMALLEST TO LARGEST, FORESTS MUST BE PROTECTED’

17 May 2005
ENV/DEV/855

2004 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE WANGARI MAATHAI TELLS UN FORUM ‘FROM SMALLEST TO LARGEST, FORESTS MUST BE PROTECTED’

17/05/2005
Press ReleaseENV/DEV/855

United Nations Forum on Forests

Fifth Session

4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)

2004 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE WANGARI MAATHAI TELLS UN FORUM

‘FROM SMALLEST TO LARGEST, FORESTS MUST BE PROTECTED’

Says River Basin Ecosystems, Such as Congo, Amazon,

Essential to Planet Stabilization; Once Gone, Poverty Will Only Grow

From the smallest to the largest, forests must be protected, declared Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, this morning in an address to the United Nations Forum on Forests.

Appealing for international support to be extended to preserve the Congo forest ecosystem, to which effort she had recently been named a Goodwill Ambassador, she stressed that river basin ecosystems such as those in the Amazon and the Congo remained essential to stabilization of the planet.  And while those groups that depended upon such forest ecosystems could seek alternative livelihoods, there were no alternatives to the existence of those ecosystems.  Once they had been lost, poverty would only grow.  She also encouraged States to place resources made available by debt cancellation into a trust fund to assist implementation of a convergence plan for good governance.

Respect for democracy, the environment and peace were necessary components of stable States, Ms. Maathai explained to the United Nations’ coordinating body on forests, which also heard an address by the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today.  The poor, oppressed and frustrated inevitably grew angry and acted to undermine peace and security at the local, regional and global levels,  To combat that trend, she had focused her efforts on linking her environmental movement to the principles of democracy and peace, in order to send a message about the need to manage the environment more sustainably, accountably and equitably.

Ms. Maathai was introduced by Pekka Patosaari, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forest Secretariat, on behalf of United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs José Antonio Ocampo.  Participating in an interactive dialogue with Ms. Maathai following her address were the representatives of Iran, Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as the representative of the indigenous peoples’ major group.

Addressing the Forum in the afternoon was the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who said the global forest dialogue had been one of the international processes of greatest importance to indigenous peoples.  The Indigenous Forum, like that for forests, occupied a distinct position in the United Nations structure; the purpose of both was to raise the political profile, mainstream and promote concrete actions on issues under their respective mandates.  Issues surrounding forests and indigenous peoples were similarly complex and cross-cutting, requiring concerted action on many fronts and multiple partnerships.

It had been encouraging to see emerging United Nations standards on forests affirm secure land rights for indigenous people, their full participation in forest policy-making, recognition of traditional forest-related knowledge, and promotion of community-based forest management, she said.  A rights-based approach to forest policy and implementation, which would empower indigenous peoples and local communities, constituted the way forward.   

Also during its afternoon meeting, the Forum took up the issues of linkages between forests and internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, the multi-stakeholder dialogue, and the high-level ministerial segment, as Pekka Patosaari, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, introduced a number of related reports.  Following the Forum Chairman’s stated intention to draft a ministerial declaration on the outcome of the high-level segment, to be sent to this fall’s Millennium Summit review, a number of delegations commented upon the proposed contents of such a Declaration, with most agreeing that it should reflect the major decisions taken by the present session of the Forum regarding the future of the international arrangement on forests.  However, there were opposing opinions as to when the drafting of that document should begin.

Speaking on the issue were the representatives of Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries), Iran, United States, Switzerland, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Norway.

Also today, the Forum continued its review of issues related to the body’s past, current, and future work and format, as the representatives of Guatemala, Mexico, Ghana (on behalf of the African Group), South Africa, Mozambique, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Japan, Senegal, United Kingdom, Namibia, Guyana and Gabon addressed the Forum.

The representatives of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Secretariat of the Tehran Process for Low Forest Cover Countries, as well as the representatives of the workers and labour unions major group, scientific and technological community major group, small forest and landowners major group, youth and children major group, non-governmental organization major group, and the women’s major group, also spoke.

In organizational action, the Forum was informed that Vice-Chairman Francis K. Butagira of Uganda had had to leave New York; Simeon A. Adekanye of Nigeria was elected to take over the remainder of Mr. Butagira’s term.

The Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 18 May, to hold a panel discussion on regional realities in the context of “Asia and the Pacific Day”.

Background

The United Nations Forum on Forests met today to continue its discussion on the past, present and future work of the international arrangement on forests (for additional background information on this topic, please see Press Release ENV/DEV/853 of 16 May), and to begin its consideration of its agenda items related to the multi-stakeholder dialogue and the high-level ministerial segment and policy dialogue with heads of international organizations.

The Forum had before it a note by the Secretariat on the multi-stakeholder dialogue (document E/CN.18/2005/3) and its eight addendums, which noted that, in an attempt to integrate major group participation more fully with the general discussion, the multi-stakeholder dialogue would be integrated into the plenary meetings of the fifth session of the Forum, including the high-level segment.

The first addendum to the note by the Secretariat contained the discussion paper contributed by the business and industry major group (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.1), which noted that this major group did not support or oppose any particular future international arrangement on forests. Rather, identification and establishment of basic principles and minimum requirements for sustainable forest management, stronger coordination of forest policies, greater recognition of sustainable forest management and forest products trade, broader recognition of the economic aspects of forests, enforcement and expanded non-governmental and private sector participation in the international arrangement had been highlighted as priorities.

The second addendum contained the discussion paper contributed by the worker and trade unions major group (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.2), which noted that a legally binding agreement that would promote the development of clear links with programmes for achieving internationally agreed development goals would provide a coordinated focus for forest policy, increase global resources available to Member States, and attack the root causes of deforestation.  Without legally binding agreements, the impact of the socio-economic forces promoting deforestation and increases in poverty among forest-dependent people would persist unabated.

The third addendum continued the discussion paper contributed by major groups: women (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.3), which noted that, although the involvement of women in forestry was far from adequate, an increasing degree of attention was being paid at the global level to linkages between gender equality, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.  The paper proposed ways in which the Forum and its partners could promote women’s engagement and participation in sustainable forest management through the establishment of a structure to assist Governments and civil society groups to develop capacities to address gender inequality, poverty and forest development.

The fourth addendum, the discussion paper contributed by the non-governmental organizations major group (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.4), stated that immediate actions must be taken to halt the alarming destruction of forests worldwide.  Those actions should be consonant with international human rights.  They should recognize, respect and support implementation of customary rights of indigenous peoples and communities living in and depending on forests.  They should address underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, including the need for readjustment of financial flows and reduction of consumption.  And they should promote genuine community-based forest management to empower forest people.

The fifth addendum to the report contained a discussion paper contributed by farmers and small forest landowners major group (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.5), which said that clear and reliable framework conditions, with sound legislation and fair law enforcement procedures in place, were the prerequisites for the development of a sustainable forestry sector.  Access to resources needed to be ensured, as well as access to relevant information, services and markets.  The full potential of the forest sector in contributing to the Millennium Development Goals could be developed only in partnership with other sectors and, in that respect, national forest programmes were crucial in defining mutually supportive and beneficial objectives, as were capacity-building and training.

The sixth addendum to the report contained a discussion paper contributed by the indigenous peoples major group (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.6), which addressed the key concerns and recommendations that indigenous peoples had expressed regarding the work, mandate and future of the Forum.  The paper took the position that indigenous peoples were unique in their relationship to the forests on which they depended and towards which they held a relationship of care and management.  They were not merely stakeholders in a discussion about future forms of forest agreements and management principles, but rather were rights holders by virtue of their unique position.

The seventh addendum contained a discussion paper contributed by the children and youth major group (document E/CN.18/2005/3/Add.7), which maintained that while forests became increasingly remote to urban youth, the linkages weakened and the recognition of forests as a natural part of the living environment diminished.  Access of young people to forests should be ensured and facilitated in order to avoid the loss of interest in and connection to nature, since the well-being of communities, fostered through ownership in forest management, directly influenced that of the children and youth among them.

The eighth addendum contained a discussion paper contributed by the scientific and technological communities major group (document E/CN.18/2005/Add.8), which was a contribution by two networks of forestry research institutions, the Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions, in collaboration with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.  The paper assessed the proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests/Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IPF/IFF); assessed priority areas for action, with a focus on the most pressing proposals and how future international arrangements could better address them; and recommended achievable goals and targets.

Also before the Forum was a note by the Secretary-General forwarding the report on the high-level ministerial segment and policy dialogue with heads of international organizations (document E/CN.18/2005/4), which noted that the focus of the high-level segment would be future actions of the international arrangement on forests and the contribution of the Forum to the review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, as well as the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields.  The report also described the format and modalities of the high-level segment, plenary sessions and round-table discussions.

Finally, there was a report of the Secretary-General on linkages between forests and the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration (document E/CN.18/2005/7), which, in addition to examining those linkages, considered the importance of the enabling environment and means of implementation, together with the interrelationships between sustainable forest management and issues such as peace, security and good governance.  It concluded by suggesting how the international arrangement might act as a catalyst in promoting the linkages between forests and internationally agreed development goals.

Statements

PEKKA PATOSAARI, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, speaking on behalf of Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo, introduced 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai.  Ms. Maathai, he said, introduced the idea of planting trees with the people during her chairmanship of the National Council of Women of Kenya, which she held from 1981 to 1987.  She continued to develop her idea into a broad-based grass-roots organization, whose main focus was to plant trees with women groups, and also founded the Greenbelt Movement, mobilizing poor women to plant 30 million trees.  Her holistic approach to sustainable development embraced democracy, human rights, and women’s rights, in particular, and combined science and active politics.  Ms. Maathai’s strategy, he added, was to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development, and members could learn from her wisdom and view on the future of the international arrangement on forests.

WANGARI MAATHAI, Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, recalled that, 50 years ago, near where she grew up, the nearby river had inspired in her thoughts of the biblical Jordan River, due to its power.  The first European explorers in Kenya had rated it the second fastest river in Africa, yet over the past 50 years, the national forests from which the river flowed had been clear-cut to make way for commercial plantations of the emerging timber and paper industry.  After the indigenous trees had been cut, local communities had been encouraged to help grow newly planted trees, and to plant crops among them.  Eventually, the national forests had been replaced by farmland.  The forest had been heavily degraded, and the river was almost non-existent.  The glaciers of Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro were melting, and crop failure had been predicted for Kenya this year, along with a food shortage and power shortages.  In her constituency, water remained the number one priority, despite its proximity to the mountains.  A water project had cost millions, but had failed due to inadequate water upstream.  In the dry areas of the country, the people were even less lucky, and had had to dig deeper due to the receding water table.  The long-term impact of encroaching on the national forested mountains was catching up with Kenya, yet little had been learned.

Her organization had sought to link the environmental movement with that of democracy and peace, she said, in order to send a message about the need to manage the environment more sustainably, accountably and equitably.  This required creating a space in which the rights of all people were respected, as cultures of peace were necessary for dialogue among groups.  Moreover, the concepts of democracy, the environment and peace were necessarily components of stable States, as the poor, oppressed and frustrated grew angry and acted to undermine peace and security at the local, regional and global levels.

From the smallest to the largest, forests must be protected, she stressed.  Presenting an appeal for the Congo forest ecosystem, which was the second largest basin to the Amazon basin, she noted that it comprised 200 million hectares -- nearly 18 per cent of the world’s tropical forest -- and housed 4 million mammalian and 10,000 plant species in addition to its human population.  The heads of State of the Central African subregion had committed to preserving their heritage, and all should support their efforts.  The Amazon and Congo basins remained essential to stabilization of the planet; yet even as the environment and forests were decimated, the human race continued to multiply and strategize its promises to improve sustainable forest management -- without translating its commitments into concrete action.  Furthermore, managing resources more sustainably, and sharing them more equitably, would ensure peace in the Congo region, where many wars had been fought over access to resources.

The groups that sought to exploit the Congo basin could find alternatives for their livelihoods, she concluded, but there were no alternatives to the existence of such ecosystems.  Once they had been lost, poverty would only grow.  Given the new focus on accountability, transparency and democracy evinced by many African leaders, the leaders of the Central African subregion had encouraged resources made available through debt cancellation to be put in a Trust Fund, to assist implementation of a convergence plan for good governance.  The international community should support this venture and assist in setting up the Trust Fund.  Finally, she noted that the international response to the Asian tsunami had been powerful, but lamented that many silent tsunamis continued to plague Africa, without prompting any such international response.  The international community must ask itself why so many were content to allow that situation to continue.

Interactive Dialogue

In the interactive dialogue that followed Ms. Maathai’s speech, the representative of the Iran asked her to clarify the greatest threats to the forests in the upper stream of the second fastest river in Kenya she mentioned in her discourse, and to recommend ways to negotiate on new arrangements for forests.  She responded that the reason why the forested mountains were initially cut in Kenya was because, at the time, the colonial administration managing those forests did not know how the local species of trees grew and felt they needed trees they knew about.  They did not know much about diversity and the word environment did not exist.  So, while at that time it was perceived to be a good economic decision, today it was undermining the livelihoods of peoples.  In her view, a decision needed to be made as to whether people were interested in quick, economic returns to solve problems now, or planning for the long term, so that future generations would be able to sustain their livelihoods.  In the current forum, she added, leaders could surely make decisions that would be important in the long term.

The representative of Mexico continued by saying that forests ceased to exist when they no longer had value for those that worked on them, but that Mexico had found an effective alternative, which was that of adding value to and paying for the environmental services produced by those forests.  He wanted to offer his country’s experience, which he said was undoubtedly one of the very best alternatives presently available.  Ms. Wangari agreed that was very true, and said that perhaps there needed to be an emphasis on sharing those experiences with other countries.  It was also necessary for leaders not just to learn about the experiences, but to implement them; it was one thing to be exposed to ideas, but another to internalize them and really learn from them.  It was also necessary to intensify education, she said, particularly when dealing with the poor people, as they tended not to see the intangible benefits of the forests.  Many people, even including leaders, did not make the linkages between the services of the forests and many of the other activities people were concerned about.  For example, many people wanted electricity, but they did not know that much of that electricity had to come from water and, because of that, education was necessary.

The representative of Costa Rica followed by asking for recommendations as to how Costa Rica could share its experience on the issue with others.  His country had found itself limited in that capacity, since appropriate models for a horizontal type of collaboration did not exist.  He believed that a transfer of a process, such as the one Costa Rica had developed, could not continue to be viewed by simply transferring the model to others.  It was necessary to focus on developing long-term processes of transferring knowledge to tackle the various aspects involved in sustainable forest management.  His comment was followed by a question from the indigenous peoples, who asked Ms. Maathai to provide recommendations on how the interests of the indigenous or local communities that depended on forests could be combined or linked with those of governments.

In response to those questions, Ms. MAATHAI said she agreed with Costa Rica that it was not always possible to transfer expediencies to another country, and that it was up to the countries to learn, and then return home and adapt that knowledge to their own situation.  One of the greatest resources was a country’s own people, which could be mobilized to do what had to be done.  Regarding indigenous peoples, she said it was very important to be respectful of such peoples, who called the forests home.  Quite often, those communities were completely ignored because they had no political voice or power.  They needed to be allowed to be the way they were, and countries needed to be supportive of the way in which they lived.  That was something the Forum should take very seriously.  It was also very important to manage resources sustainably, respectably, and within a democratic space, where the rights of everyone were respected, including those who were vulnerable and those who had no power, because that was the only way we could live in peace.

Statements on Work of Forum

Mr. BARRERA GARAVITO (Guatemala) said it was important that the future agreement on forests should be binding, and based on an open-ended convention open to all States, which would yet maintain its vocation of respecting the policies of all countries.  Clear and quantifiable goals should be set, with strategies to achieve them that took into account commonalities between Governments in all regions.  There should be an international forest policy that offered greater participation at the local and regional levels.  Regarding financing, there should be a review of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) system of regional commissions to learn best practices.

Mr. GONZALEZ VICENTE (Mexico) said the results achieved by the present international arrangement on forests (IAF) had been insufficient.  It was necessary to reform and strengthen the IAF.  The international community had not yet been able to generate a collective understanding of the need to reverse the loss of important ecosystems.  A high-level framework was needed.  The IAF should be given a new mandate, specific tasks and specific goals.  During the forthcoming period, the legal framework and modalities of the financial mechanisms must be defined.  Moreover, independent of the legal nature of these instruments, it was necessary to establish clear global goals as the basis for strengthening the long-term commitment to forests; to ensure clear and precise political commitments and will at the highest level; to be action-oriented; to link that action-orientation to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals; to impact the debate on forests in other forums; and to strengthen financing for forests at the international and national levels.

Mexico supported the creation of a global Forum on Forests that would make it possible to mobilize new resources, support national-level implementation of forest policies, and promote better use of existing resources.  There should be consensus on the new Forum.

PAUL YAW ESSEL (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the existence of a global forest policy forum remained infinitely relevant as it could help to raise the profile of forests at the global level, and to catalyse international cooperation for implementation.  It could also act as a forum for the exchange of experiences and ensure a global approach to emerging forest issues.

The objectives and functions of the IAF, as originally set out, remained valid, he added.  However, any future IAF should:  address explicitly the three pillars of sustainable forest management -- economic viability, environmental friendliness, and social equitability; recognize existing and future regional protocols on forests; have the potential to raise political awareness, secure commitment, and enhance the profile and visibility of forests at the international and national levels; assign forest issues the same status as the core issues covered by the international instruments on biological diversity, climate change and desertification; and provide discipline and a strong framework for clear objectives, targets and indicators to assess progress, monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

The problem with implementation of national forest programmes in Africa must be addressed comprehensively, with emphasis on reversing the decline of official development assistance (ODA) to the forestry sector and creating an ambitious Global Fund for Forests, as well as an operational programme under the Global Environmental Facility for forests.  It was also important to consider the development of the forest product industry and trade, as well as the need to improve market access for African forest products.  Capacity-building, technology transfers and support for local technology was also needed.

Ms. MOSSOP-ROUSSEAU (South Africa) said members had the responsibility and the obligation to take the present opportunity to ensure that they established a coherent and decisive plan on forests.  In deciding on the way forward, it was necessary to pay cognisance to such things as the fact that theories could be implemented on the ground. It was also necessary to take into account the needs of developing countries when implementing any proposals, and that ways of assisting the developing countries must be found.  The existing structures in regions also needed to be recognized and utilized, and it was necessary that any implemented plans complemented existing strategies.

It should also be ensured, she continued, that implementation replaced dialogue, particularly since developing countries found it difficult to talk about what should be done when needs remained the same and while they lacked the means for implementation.  Those outside the Forum must also be convinced of the contribution forests could have in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and society needed to be much more engaged in the dialogue, as a whole.  She added that it was heartening to see the increased participation by the major groups, but that a future Forum must explore participation on a more widespread basis with several society players.

Mr. ORESTE (Mozambique) said international dialogues on forests continued to take place through existing forums the world over, yet much remained to be addressed.  At the present session, the Forum should examine how the IAF had failed to meet expectations, and discuss how the future IAF could be improved.  Existing barriers and challenges must be recognized, including that sustainable management efforts would not be realized without effective means of implementation.  Other issues that should be addressed included the need for better institutional and legal frameworks, and for provision of financial and human resources.  Emphasis should also be placed on issues related to preventing forest fires, illegal logging, poaching and the transformation of forested lands into agricultural lands.

Mozambique, with the support of the FAO, had set up mechanisms for implementation of community-based forest management, he noted.  Among other initiatives, there had been increases in the number of logging operators, community-based management initiatives throughout the country, review and improvement in forests legislation, adoption of measures to discourage raw exports and to encourage national value-added, and the establishment of a national forest forum.  The Forum should adopt a strategy and take immediate action to assist countries to implement similar programmes with immediate impacts.

Mr. WARDOJO (Indonesia) said he regarded the Forum as an instrumental vehicle in the promotion of sustainable forest management.  As a country with 60 per cent forest cover, Indonesia was fully committed to implement the proposal for action and earlier Forum decisions and resolutions.  In the last few years, Indonesia had been promoting people’s access and participation in forestry development, which had substantially increased the benefits of forestry for people’s welfare, and forest and land degradation and illegal logging were no longer perceived and treated as sectoral issues in Indonesia.  His Government attached great importance to the strengthening of institutional capacity in the decentralization process to meet the challenges of sustainable forest management, because its Government capacities in different parts of the country varied.

Despite notable progresses and achievements of the present arrangement, he continued, there remained areas for improvement and strengthening, particularly regarding implementation.  Issues such as illegal logging, deforestation and forest degradation remained significant problems that needed to be addressed at the global and regional level, and the challenges and problems were quite complex.  Indonesia believed that the IAF should maintain its status as a high-level, intergovernmental body on global forest issues with a strategic objective of ensuring implementation, and should be adequately effective in catalysing and facilitating implementation of the proposals for action.  The IAF would benefit from the strengthening of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), based on policy guidance taken by the future Forum.  Indonesia also believed that any targets should be set voluntarily at the national level, taking into account national needs and priorities, as well as the sovereign rights of each country.

Mr. GUTIERREZ (Argentina) said his country favoured reaching consensus among the Forum’s members to arrive at a legal system, preferably one that was binding, on the protection and sustainable management of forests around the world.  The instrument should respect the sovereign right of States to exploit their natural resources, in conformity with national policies, and should lead to economic development.  It should also reflect the common, but different, responsibilities of States.  The legal instrument should also increase the capacity of developing States to manage and develop their forests sustainably.  However, given the present context, it did not look as though it would be feasible to establish a binding international convention.  Yet, that option should be maintained in the future.

Argentina’s realistic outlook should not be taken to mean that it favoured the status quo on forest management, he said.  Rather, Argentina encouraged all present to work towards a realistic solution to improve implementation at the national and regional levels for the sustainable development of forests, including with a strong financial component to enable developing countries to overcome existing limitations.  Noting that the Secretariat had examined the effectiveness of the IAF, including the work of the Forum, as well as obstacles to the strengthening of future work in this field, he said that his country agreed that the lack of necessary resources constituted one of the most important limitations.  Although Argentina had not been in a position to submit its country response before the deadline, it now wished to submit its responses to indicate the importance placed on forest-related issues.

Mr. DA ROCHA VIANNA (Brazil) said Brazil had always been deeply involved in all negotiations related to forest issues, as the Amazon region represented about 60 per cent of the Brazilian territory.  Regarding the overarching principles that guided the position of the Amazonian countries, he said that although those countries were willing to work towards a satisfactory outcome for Forum , they did not consider adequate the adoption of a legally binding international instrument on forests.  For Brazil, even a voluntary code, as proposed, would not be a proper outcome of the IAF.  Moreover, together with the Amazonian countries, Brazil considered that the adoption of quantifiable and specific temporal targets was not the adequate global response to the conservation, development and sustainable development of all types of forests.  Instead, he said that efforts should focus on the definition of strategic objectives that, together with the adequate means of implementation, would enable countries to develop and implement sustainable forest management.

A strengthened Forum, he continued, would constitute the core of an international arrangement on forests.  That did not mean, however, to maintain the status quo.  The new international arrangement should include such elements as national policies and measures to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests; international cooperation, including South-South cooperation, playing a crucial and catalytic role in reinforcing the efforts of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to improve the management of their forests; the enhancement of the capacity of countries to significantly increase the production of forest products from sustainably managed sources through policies and measures adopted at global, regional, subregional and national levels; and the establishment of a clearing-house mechanism to facilitate a better exchange of experiences and good practices.

PIOTR BORKOWSKI, of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, said the pan-European process had had the opportunity to capture national experiences on sustainable forest management to provide feedback to the international Forum.  That contact would serve to bring global policy on forests closer to the national experience.  Moreover, national stakeholders should understand the international process, as the majority of the implementation process lay in their hands.  Incorporating those national stakeholders effectively meant that many different targets could be achieved simultaneously, including protection of biological diversity, the conservation of forests and sustainable management of forests.  The pan-European process had been widely recognized throughout the continent, and European States had made significant progress in formulating and implementing national forestry programmes.  The pan-European process remained ready to share its experiences with all partners.

The pan-European process had developed criteria and indicators for progress in implementing international forestry policy, he noted, and had issued a “State of Europe’s Forests” report in 2003.  Currently being prepared was a report on sustainable forest management, which would reflect the state of sustainable forest management in Europe.  He also noted that there had been cooperation between various continental processes working on forest-related issues and that, when finalized, the joint position of pan-European understanding on the linkage between development goals and sustainable forest management would be submitted to the international Forum, in order to stimulate cooperation at the global level.  Finally, he noted that the pan-European process had always been based on open cooperation between its member countries, as the exchange of information played a key role in implementation of international commitments.

Mr. CASAS (Colombia) stressed the need for strengthening the current international arrangements on forests, with the primary goal of eliminating the major existing differences between dialogue and concrete action on forests.  It was fundamental for delegations to show flexibility in looking at the options that were identified, and the main concern of Colombia was based not on the legal or non-legal nature of the instrument, but rather on the goals agreed upon and on the availability of the means of implementing those goals.  He was aware of the difficulties involved in discussing and identifying specific quantifiable goals for forests, and said that any discussion was complex because of the inter-sectoral elements of forests and the underlying causes of deforestation.  Part of the challenges also involved adopting concrete actions in institutional, economic and social spheres, so that they could result in good actions for the indigenous populations.

An international arrangement on forests, he continued, could take as a point of reference the goals that had already been agreed upon in other forums, in particular the temporary goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  He noted the convergence that seemed to exist in the hall vis-à-vis the proposals shared, such as in holding regional meetings, conserving and making sustainable use of all types of forests, as well as the need for strengthening the valuable work on the collaborative action on forests.

Mr. ULATE CHACON (Costa Rica) said his country remained concerned by the degradation of forests throughout the world, which served as evidence that the IAF had not met expectations.  Costa Rica had always held that a legally binding instrument was necessary to ensure a clearer, more appropriate framework for the attainment of common goals.  The South American subregion had 10 year’s worth of experience in drafting such agreements on forests, climate change, and biodiversity.  The subregional legal framework had resulted in relevant legal processes, like the South American forest strategy, which had enabled countries to carry out a review and update of national forest plans.  These plans had incorporated the issue of financing sustainable forest development.

The future of the IAF should guarantee the definition of concrete methods and tasks and the global and national levels, he said, and should take into account the link between international development goals, including the outcomes of the Millennium Summit and other international conferences and summits in the economic and social fields.  However, Costa Rica was less interested in developing a legal framework than in protecting forests, and so remained willing to pool efforts to achieve consensus.  For its part, the country had recently hosted a meeting of experts on traditional knowledge on forests, as well as an initiative on innovative mechanisms for financing sustainable development.  In both cases, interesting recommendations had emerged, and these had been distributed.  Overall, there must be a change in the view of financing sustainable forest development.  Rather than being seen as a cost, it must be seen as an investment.

Ms. ARUNGAH (Kenya) said the current session was the culmination of a long international dialogue that began in the framework of the Rio Summit, and provided an opportunity to continue with that dialogue, as well as a chance to define a future international arrangement on forests.  To most countries, forests, if well managed, could contribute to sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and, indeed, the successes and challenges of the forestry sector had an impact on all those Goals.  It was also necessary to consider forestry as one of important sectors in a country’s economy.

Kenya would argue for a strengthened international arrangement on forests within the United Nations, which she said could be done through raising the profile of the current arrangement.  A new instrument should also endeavour to set global goals and targets, and should have a predictable funding mechanism, such as a global forest fund.  Kenya would also like to see an arrangement that pronounced itself explicitly economically viable, and which was environmentally friendly and socially equitable.  It was necessary to assign to forest issues the same status as the core issues covered by instruments, and to provide a strong framework for clear objectives, targets and compliance mechanisms, as well as to mobilize support.  She added that members needed to strengthen international and regional arrangements, and to further embrace collaboration for sustainable forestry management.

Mr. PRASAD (India) said much remained to be done to achieve the main objectives of sustainable forest management, conservation and development of all forest environments.  The establishment of the Forum and CPF had been significant achievements in the process of achieving those internationally agreed goals, and had seen success in promoting better understanding on forestry policy.  They had also allowed the international community to identify gaps in the implementation of those objectives, particularly as they related to financing of sustainable forest management and technology transfers.  It was well known that the poorest of the poor lived in and around, and depended upon, forests, he noted, and support for forestry plans led to the eradication of poverty and other international development objectives.  The international community must find new and additional resources for sustainable forest management.

Forests could differ from one region to another, as well as within regions, he added, stressing that greater efforts were required to unite the nearly 40 regional forestry instruments.  Strengthening the IAF represented the best way to address the gaps that had been identified, but should be done in conformity with States’ sovereign right to utilize their natural resources.  There should be a focus on building human and institutional capacity to manage forests sustainably.  Thus, the task currently before the international community was to identify priority areas for implementation of sustainable forest management, while keeping national circumstances and priorities in mind.  National forest programmes should constitute the basis on which to prioritize forestry financing in developing countries.  Finally, he noted that the mandates of CPF members should be in consonance with the objectives of the Forum, which could play a key role in highlighting complementarities among the various processes involved in forestry issues.

Mr. MAT AMIN (Malaysia) said Malaysia would continue to be committed to the sustainable development of forests.  Regarding the implementation of the proposals of action, Malaysia took note of the divergence of views among the parties involved.  In the future, the Forum should play a more significant role in facilitating international and regional cooperation in the implementation of sustainable forest management.  As part of the current review, a comprehensive review of all the proposals for action should be fully addressed.  There should be a focus on the means of implementation, on funds, and on the extent to which community donors and organizations had facilitated the implementation of the proposals for action.

The continuous efforts of various groups for the successful implementation of sustainable forest management were of significant importance to Malaysia, he continued.  His country would continue to support activities undertaken by the United Nations Forum on Forests secretariat in ensuring an inter-agency discussion on cooperation and on future actions.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Chair, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said the global forest dialogue had been one of the international processes of greatest importance to indigenous peoples.  In all regions of the world, indigenous people had long-standing economic, social, cultural and ecological relationships with different types of forests, and continued to play a unique role in sustainable forest management and development.  The valuable contributions of “traditional forest-related knowledge” and the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development had been reaffirmed at international conferences on forestry issues.  The Indigenous Forum, like that for forests, occupied a distinct position in the United Nations structure; the purpose of both was to raise the political profile, mainstream and promote concrete actions on issues under their respective mandates.  Moreover, the issues surrounding forests and indigenous peoples were similarly complex and cross-cutting, requiring concerted action on many fronts and multiple partnerships.

It was encouraging to see that emerging United Nations standards on forests affirmed secure land rights for indigenous people, their full participation in forest policy-making, recognition of traditional forest-related knowledge, and promotion of community-based forest management, she said.  Many of the recommendations on forests were pertinent to recommendations on indigenous peoples, as well, and the joint challenge must be to ensure their implementation.  Indigenous peoples underscored that a rights-based approach to forest policy and implementation, which would empower indigenous peoples and local communities, constituted the way forward.  That principle was central to the Common Country Assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), as well as to strategies for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Recalling the General Assembly’s proclamation of a Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, she stressed that the challenge of realizing “Partnership in Action” –- the theme of the second decade -- would require an ever greater number of innovative practices such as those introduced through various multi-stakeholder processes in recent years.  Best practices for enhancing civil society participation and inputs should provide guidance to both Forums in their future operations.  Furthermore, there were concrete advantages to strengthening the institutional relationships between the two Forums based on their respective membership in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).

This year, and in coming years, the Indigenous Forum was focusing its attention on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and indigenous people, she concluded, particularly regarding extreme poverty.  Many studies had drawn attention to the link between indigenous peoples’ deepening impoverishment and the denial of their rights to their traditional lands and forests.  Thus, she noted with satisfaction the reorientation of forest policy to acknowledge the rights and important contribution of indigenous peoples and local communities to be built upon in coming decades.  Forests, which had long been regarded as revenue earners for the State, were increasingly valued for their environmental, social and cultural aspects.  Programmes to promote community forestry must be expanded and supported as part of national commitments to eradicate poverty, in fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. TAKEYA (Japan) shared the view of the international community that it was very important to promote sustainable forest management in order to develop economic sustainability.  Forest deforestation, however, was still under way in worldwide records, and, therefore, it was necessary to strengthen operations to reverse that situation.  Each country, as well as international and regional organizations, including non-governmental organizations, should cooperate to implement the proposals for action.  In order to develop sustainable forest management at the global level in an efficient manner, Japan strongly believed that the promotion of regional initiatives was also essential.  In that context, in cooperation with the Government of Indonesia and other partners, his Government had established a partnership promoting sustainable forest management in Asia, and expected that it would be promoted through the implementation of agreed upon work plans.

Japan had been supporting the promotion of sustainable forest management at the global level through international organizations such as the FAO, and also through implementation of bilateral cooperation, and it still had the intention to provide continuous support.  Leaders were currently facing one of the biggest obstacles for promoting sustainable forest management, which was illegal logging, though he said that recognition by the international community on its importance had been developing.  He emphasized the necessity of establishing an accord on the issue, since there was still no international definition on illegal logging.  Regarding the future of the IAF, Japan expected that there would be a focus on items in order to reach further progress, and that members would avoid repetition of the same kinds of discussions that had already taken place.  Members should also fully utilize financial resources and knowledge efficiently.

Mr. DIENG (Senegal) said solutions to the obstacles facing the sustainable management of all types of forests must be sought during the Forum’s current session.  As part of the implementation discussion, the question of existing and innovative financing must be considered, as should issues related to greater local responsibility for forests, appreciation of results of relevant research, and use of local knowledge and skills.  All efforts must be based on effective international cooperation to find solutions for the IAF.  Also expressing appreciation for the work of the CPF, he said that his country’s small forest cover was gradually diminishing.  Senegal remained animated by the desire to find a common solution, and to promoting concrete action for the sustainable management of all types of forests.

TIM ROLLINSON (United Kingdom) said his country did not believe that the progress that should have been made through the current international arrangement or its predecessors had, in fact, been made.  The high levels of deforestation remained a continuing cause of concern, and that raised questions about what had been done and how it had been done.  Key elements to be focused on during the current session included setting clear objectives to accelerate implementation of agreed action.  It was also necessary, he continued, to make policy implementation and links to action on the ground the focus of active dialogue.  He added that the collaboration produced by the CPF and country-led initiatives had been successes of the current arrangement.

Mr. HAILWA (Namibia) said that the Forum remained the appropriate instrument to promote sustainable forest management.  As part of its own efforts for such management, Namibia had adopted criteria and indicators, and had begun to implement them.  National forest programmes had been put in place.  Yet, deforestation and forest degradation remained among the largest environmental threats to the country.  Thus, notwithstanding the achievements realized thus far, there was a need to reinforce the international arrangement on forests.  Different stakeholders were not precisely aware of the consequences of certain arrangements, particularly their financial repercussions.  The Forum must consider what would happen if it committed members to arrangements that negatively affected their already poor communities.  The Forum must first address common issues, and then proceed to address the issues that separated various stakeholders.  That would lead to a levelling of the ground, which would enable all stakeholders to participate on a fair playing field.

Mr. TALBOT (Guyana) said that the global forestry process was currently at an important juncture.  Guyana agreed with the assessment that one of the major shortcomings of the present arrangement had been the impact of implementation.  The importance of international cooperation for sustainable forest management was universally shared, as was the importance of forests for achieving other development goals.  Guyana attached high importance to that process and remained committed to sustainable forest management.

Looking to the future, he said his delegation believed that a global forum, such as the United Nations Forum on Forests, remained a necessary element to address questions related to all types of forests.  The forging of partnerships was also very important, and Guyana further believed that incorporation of a regional dimension could be an important vehicle for sustainable forest management.  It was also necessary not to forget the importance of subregional cooperation.  He added that Guyana would continue to support the consensus-building process.

Mr. MADINGOU (Gabon) reiterated the appeal made by Ms. Maathai this morning -- for the international community to support Central African efforts to preserve and sustainably manage the forest of the Congo river basin.  Regarding the subject at hand, he said the IAF should be strengthened, including through the elaboration of precise objectives and deadlines.  Emphasis should also be given to ensuring appropriate, reliable and permanent resources.  There was also a need to ensure synergy between subregional, regional and international initiatives.

Ms. VAHANEN, representing the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that the statement of the Ministerial Meeting on Forests and the report of the seventeenth session of the Committee on Forestry contained commitments on strengthening the CPF and recommendations that Governments made relevant to the IAF.  Further, recommendations were made for strengthening of the six regional forestry commissions that focused on action-oriented cooperation on sustainable forest management, as well as on the linkages between forests and the broader development goals and the Millennium Development Goals.  She said members might want to take those documents into account in their deliberations during the current session.

Mr. JAFARI, of the Secretariat of the Tehran Process for Low Forest Cover Countries, said that more attention should be given to issues important to low forest-cover countries, and to rehabilitation strategies for those countries.  As recognized by the CPF, the Tehran Process had provided an important framework for cooperation among such countries.  The secretariats of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Forum on Forests, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity had been requested to collaborate to promote activities for low forest-cover countries.  A joint approach on forests would be developed with the Tehran Process, among others, to strengthen the capacity of such countries to combat desertification and land degradation.  According to recent statistics, there were nearly 70 such countries.  Based upon the needs and requirements of those countries, planting, forestation and reforestation had important consequences, and should be considered as important objectives for all countries.  The Secretariat would also be holding a side event on issues affecting such countries during this session and invited all to attend.

The representative of the workers and labour unions major group, said that the next logical step regarding a sustainable forest management arrangement was that social sustainability issues must be central to any objectives of a new arrangement.  Just as forest issues were fading from the international limelight, social justice issues were taking centre stage.  It was, therefore, logical to link forestry issues to social justice issues.  She also said that as long as indigenous peoples were denied access to the use of traditional lands, forests were endangered, and as long as members must choose between feeding their families or logging illegally, forests would be endangered.  The new arrangement must address ways to assist those who were denied social justice, as social injustice remained a root cause of deforestation.

The representative of the scientific and technological community major group said that deforestation and land degradation had not been arrested after five years of focused attention, nor had there been a reduction in poverty and high dependence on forests, particularly in developing countries.  That assessment served to overshadow the tremendous progress made over the past five years, as highlighted in the relevant report.  The major group he represented held that the problem was not so much a deficit in the number of existing institutions, but the need to reinforce implementation on the ground of the international arrangement on forests.  Efforts to implement proposals for action on the ground had been hampered by the lack of awareness about processes, and by the lack of human, technical and financial capacity.

The economic difficulties suffered by most developing countries, coupled with weak forestry institutions, had hampered efforts at implementation, he said.  Limited capacity to implement action proposals, and to report on progress in that regard, also constituted a major constraint.  Furthermore, there was insufficient research on the implementation and technical capacities of developing countries.  Also of concern was the toll of HIV/AIDS on human technical resources.  The scientific and technological community felt that the future IAF should create an international natural resources management fund to which developing countries would draw in proportion to their external debt, and to which developed countries would contribute an amount weighted upon their contribution to global warming.  The Bretton Woods institutions should also extend loans at near-zero interest rates for sustainable forest management and capacity-building for implementation.

The representative of the small forest and landowners major group, said that family forest owners had a genuine interest in a balanced approach to sustainable forest management.  The responsibility was firmly rooted in their culture and history, because they knew that the generations to follow would also depend on goods and services from their forests.  His group believed that private property rights were often the first step towards sustainable forest management, but felt that their importance was not adequately recognized in the proposals for action.  Members needed to give a higher priority to clear ownership structures.  Clear and reliable framework conditions with sound legislation were prerequisites for the development of the sustainable forest sector, and access to resources needed to be ensured, as well as access to relevant information, services and markets.

His group also believed that know-how and understanding of the complex nature of sustainable forest management was the basis for implementation.  His group recommended that an international arrangement on forests needed to raise its profile as a global policy forum, and that there should be a focus on technical issues and implementation of tasks.  Finally, his group recommended that the role of regional foreign policy processes in the global sustainability debate be strengthened.

The representative of the youth and children major group, said that young people and children had proven to be a valuable part of the Forum process by raising the profile of education.  Education must be re-emphasized continually to remind all of the link between sustaining forests and sustaining livelihoods, of the link between using up resources today and the need to maintain them into the future.  Among the issues to be considered during the current session of the Forum, consideration should be given to the cross-cutting nature of forestry issues.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) should be approached by the future international arrangement to incorporate forestry as a theme for the second United Nations Decade for Education.  The children and youth major group also urged that the proposals for action be transformed from dialogue to concrete stakeholder action.  Children and youth participation should be encouraged in the future IAF, as well, as should the participation of the major groups, in general.  If incorporated into today’s efforts for sustainable forest management, children and youth could serve as the key pillars for future efforts in that regard.

The representative of the non-governmental organizations major group, said that her group believed that Governments did have the capacity to help regarding the issue of deforestation, as forests were fully covered by existing, legally binding instruments.  A new forest convention was not necessary, because forests were already protected by the biodiversity Convention, and thus her group would strongly reject such action.  Her group would insist that Governments appreciate forests and the multiple people that lived in them, and would strongly support the indigenous people and their rights.  Her group would not support any forum that did not support the basic human rights of everyone, and any international arrangement that did not address the underlying reasons for deforestation would not be considered credible.  There had already been compliance with many sustainable forest management commitments, and the last thing that was needed was a renegotiation of all those agreements.  Such action would risk reopening the many international policies that had already been agreed to.  Needed, instead, were clear targets to reduce deforestation, with commitments to the rights of indigenous peoples and of women.

The representative of the women’s major group, said the participation of her major group in the discussions of the Forum was framed upon the needs of forest-dependent poor women.  Forest privatization and market-based economic access did not meet women’s needs, and women often lacked title to their land, which meant they were ignored in environmental subsidization schemes.  The Forum should seek to provide women with opportunities to engage with forestry initiatives on a more equal basis than in the past.  She recalled the commitments undertaken under Agenda 21 and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to ensure that women’s empowerment, emancipation and gender equality were encompassed within all aspects of Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals, and the implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  She noted that, in the environment sector, treatment of those issues had been fragmentary and inconsistent.  Most environmental meetings did not consider gender equality an essential quality for achievement of sustainable development, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification had addressed the perspective of United Nations Agenda 21 in an unequal way. 

The inadequate participation of women in environment and sustainable development decision-making was an issue of major concern, she added.  Yet, the current level of attention given to women’s issues was grossly inadequate to meeting the goals of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.  The future IAF must develop the expertise to guide Governments to undertake capacity-building to fulfil their policy commitments to those goals.  The IAF should establish a separate unit on forestry and gender in development to assist countries to develop policies, skills and knowledge to integrate gender in forest-related issues.  The Forum should promote women’s active participation in policy-making at every level of forestry and take the lead in the promotion of objectives underscored in Agenda 21, to avoid the lapses in the three sustainable development instruments she cited.

Mr. PATOSAARI, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, presented the documents for the high-level segment, a format which he said was anticipated to help ensure a clear focus on implementation, as well as provide ample opportunities for sharing experiences and lessons learned from different angles and perspectives.

The high-level segment would have three parts, he said, which were described in the Note by the Secretary-General on the high-level ministerial segment and policy dialogue with heads of international organizations (document E/CN.18/2005/4).  Since the first session, the Secretariat had identified focal points, which were representatives of each major group, to work with the Forum in planning and preparing major group participation and contribution.  That input had come in the form of discussion papers, which were presented as addendums (documents E/CN.18/2005.3/Adds. 1-8) to the Note by the Secretary-General on the multi-stakeholder dialogue (document E/CN.18/2005/3), which outlined a number of recommendations as to how substantive contributions could be improved upon.  The addendums, he said, reflected a long process of consultations within each group among numerous organizations.

Also introduced was the report of the Secretary-General on linkages between forests and internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration (document E/CN.18/2005/7), which focused on some of the linkages between forests and critical issues on the broader development agenda.  Those included the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; health; environmental sustainability; sustainable consumption and production patterns; and energy. Linkages between forests and the establishment of an enabling environment, as well as means of implantation for achieving those goals, were also highlighted in the report.

FRANK WOLTER, Deputy Director, Forestry Administration of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the forest sector clearly had the potential to make a significant contribution to the Millennium Development Goals, and he acknowledged the active role taken by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, through the implementation of the proposals for action, to advance in that respect.  However, he said, the difficulties encountered in capturing the economic value of environmental services provided by forests to the benefit of society, as well as a lack of understanding of the potential contribution of forests to poverty reduction, resulted in an insufficient allocation of national resources and development assistance for sustainable forest management.  To reverse that trend, the European Union believed it was essential to link sustainable forest management to the Millennium Development Goal review process, and it was necessary to demonstrate and explore all facets of the contribution of forests to the achievement of those goals.

The Union, he continued, believed that it was crucial to agree on setting a limited number of clear objectives and quantifiable forest-related targets to raise the political commitment to sustainable forest management worldwide.  Such goals and targets should be directly linked to existing Millennium Development Goal targets, and the Union saw an important role for CPF members in assisting countries to develop such targets.  He also noted the need for strong coordination across different sectors, so that efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals pursued in those sectors became mutually reinforcing.  The Union would, thus, encourage CPF members to strengthen their interdepartmental working groups and intersectoral cooperation, so that the reinforcing effect could be captured within CPF’s diverse actions.

JAVAD AMIN-MANSOUR (Iran) said there was no doubt about the interrelatedness of forests and internationally agreed development goals.  He recalled the question he had asked Ms. Maathai this morning about the land use alternative that had led to the land degradation she described in her natal region.  Ms. Maathai had explained it as a result of a lack of adequate public awareness and education, and of the mistaken value placed on forests during the period in which the logging had occurred.  Iran would put forward poverty and hunger as causes of deforestation, as well, and the commitment to reduce them by half by 2015 would contribute to sustainable forest management.  Sanitation and dumping wastes also represented a challenge to those living in forests, who lacked the space to recycle and to treat waste properly, which also contributed to deforestation.

Further, he said, reaching adequate reduction in the levels of extreme poverty and hunger, and in the promotion of the empowerment of women, education, as well as improvement in the lives of slum dwellers, would contribute to better sustainable forest management.  Regarding the elaboration of two chairman’s texts, one on the high-level segment, and one of the Forum generally, he cautioned that many delegations, particularly small ones, would be unable to conduct two sets of negotiations at the same time.  However, Iran agreed that the Forum must have something from the high-level segment to send to the forthcoming session of the General Assembly.

JAN McALPINE (United States) said that regarding the ministerial declaration, the United States was of the view that the substantive components should be focused on the outcome of the two weeks of current negotiation, and on identifying the substantive actions that members were able to agree to during that time.  While her delegation concurred with the fact that the internally agreed development goals were vastly affected by the contribution of forests, and that that was little understood by the public at large or by Governments, she did not think that the focus of such a declaration should be on those issues.  Instead, most of the focus should be on countries making their own decisions, with countries integrating forests into their own development programmes.

Forests are heavily affected by actions in other government bureaucracies and by decisions in other sectors, she continued.  She hoped that a great deal of time would not be spent this week negotiating aspects that the United States believed should wait until later.  The United States also agreed that the focus of current negotiations should be very much the purpose of the meeting, and looked forward to the high-level segment providing some more information on the issues generally.  She added that the future work programme should have, as a substantial component, the effect on forests on other sectors.

FRANZ PERREZ (Switzerland) noted that the cross-sectoral aspect of forests should be better recognized, and that forests and agro-industries should be better integrated into national development strategies.  There should also be a focus on linking governmental mechanisms from the local to the national to the international level, and greater attention should be given to illegal activities.  Forests’ overall contribution to poverty reduction and food security should be better addressed.  Regarding the content of the ministerial declaration, he said the aim of the ministerial segment should be for the Forum to take a clear decision on strengthening the IAF, with a focus on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  The ministerial declaration should reflect the main elements of that decision, and should make clear that the major contribution to high-level would be to strengthen the IAF.  The Forum should only begin work on that declaration when there was a better understanding of the decision that would be taken.  Work should not begin on that declaration until next week.

Mr. ROBERTS (Canada) said forests and trees could make a great contribution to achieving Millennium Development Goals 1 and 7, as well as to the other Goals.  The Secretariat should be congratulated for having prepared a concise and comprehensive paper; however, some aspects on the linkages between trees and forests and various development goals were perhaps overlooked.  His delegation believed that the health risk of air pollution resulting from forest fires and the influence of fire management might have been taken note of, as well as the importance of the industrial forest sector on the alleviation of poverty.  The linkage between tax-generated wealth from the forest industry in funding health and education services could have been mentioned, as could the need to reach out to the agricultural sector.  Also important was the role of petroleum exploration in deforestation, in both temperate and tropical areas, and the challenge of working in forestry’s long-term time frame within the donor’s short-term planning and implementation horizon.

Canada agreed that developing specific goals to address problems would be a positive action in responding to target 9 of Millennium Development Goal 7.  He drew attention to model forests as a landscape-level expression of national forest programmes, which provided a mechanism through which particular goals could be pursued in the field.  He added that Canada thought that the ministerial declaration should reflect the results of member deliberations vis-à-vis the future international forest arrangement.

Mr. AMIN-MANSOUR (Iran) recalled his comment on delegations’ ability to conduct simultaneous negotiations on two texts.  Also agreeing that there should be a good idea of what the outcome of the ministerial segment would be, he agreed that negotiations on that text should not begin before next week.  To have a message for the General Assembly, he also urged the Forum to use the text to be presented tomorrow as the basis for a summary.  It was too early to discuss the outcome of the high-level segment.

Mr. RAMNARINE (Trinidad and Tobago) said that politicians were normally preoccupied with people, popularity, and other major issues.  Forestry people, on the other hand, had started an evaluation on the intangible values of forests, and he wanted to suggest that in the draft declaration an attempt be made to put some sort of monetary value, especially regarding the intangibles of forestry.  In that way, he said, politicians might “buy into” the concept and, therefore, they would be able to convince their cabinets and countrymen of the priority they wanted to give to forests.

Mr. OISTAD (Norway) said he wished to suggest that the Chairman employ a two-step process in drafting the ministerial declaration.  The major component of the declaration should reflect the outcome of the Forum’s current session.  But to help in preparations, perhaps it would be possible to indicate elements in the ministerial declaration, and then revisit to conduct a second draft next week.  Norway was concerned that time would run short if the entire drafting process was postponed to the following week.

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For information media. Not an official record.