The final day of the Fifty-seventh Session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-57) and the Associated Sessions of its four Committees took decisive steps forward to reinforce its role as a leader on policies, practices and innovations for the sustainable development of forest goods and services. Delegates adopted eight decisions, the most important of which were the appointment of the new Executive Director (ED) for the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the extension of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006 (ITTA, 2006).
At the start of the day’s session, Members came prepared to find a way forward on the appointment of the next ITTO ED. The previous day’s discussions were inconclusive; one member called for a special vote, but there was no quorum. On Friday, however, quorum was attained. Prior to any vote, both producer and consumer countries were expected to meet to try to reach consensus. However, Indonesia took the floor and indicated that their candidate had withdrawn. With only one candidate left, Sheam Satkuru (Malaysia) was elected as ITTO ED by consensus for a four-year term.
Members quickly agreed to extend the ITTA, 2006 to 2026. But they took more time to reach agreement on the part of the decision that establishes an “inclusive virtual intersessional working group” that will assess the need for a renegotiation or further extension of the ITTA, 2006. Consumer countries were eager to discuss whether the Agreement should be renegotiated, and urged starting early so that a decision could be taking in a timely manner. Producers, however, cautioned that the modalities and mandate of the group are not sufficiently clear and preferred only to establish an intersessional working group at ITTC-58 in 2022.
Another wrinkle in this debate was that although quorum had been attained, it was tenuous as the threshold for producer participation had only just been met. Delegates were thus eager to find a solution so they could adopt the decision while there was still quorum. As one delegate was heard saying, “there may be no Agreement to renegotiate if we keep on debating,” referring to the fact that if the decision wasn’t adopted, ITTA, 2006 would lapse in four short days. Ultimately, delegates agreed to establish an “inclusive virtual intersessional working group” with ten representatives from producer and consumer countries. They will present their conclusions to the Council at its next session.
Delegates also adopted decisions on: the administrative budget; the strategic plan; projects, pre-projects and activities; and cooperation and coordination with other international organizations. Thanking members for their hard work, and the Secretariat for its support, Chair Kheiruddin Rani (Malaysia) closed the meeting at 10:50 pm Japan Standard Time (UTC+9).
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis of ITTC-57 will be available on Monday, 6 December 2021.
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