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Summary report, 5–7 April 2004

Workshop on "Forests and Forest Ecosystems: Promoting Synergy in the Implementation of the Three Rio Conventions"

The workshop on "Forests and Forest Ecosystems: Promoting Synergy in the Implementation of the Three Rio Conventions" was held from 5-7 April 2004, in the complex of Santa Maria in Gradi, Viterbo, Italy. The workshop was organized by the Secretariats of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (CCD) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in cooperation with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The goal of the workshop, which included approximately 150 participants, was to encourage the implementation of specific actions at the local level on forests and forest ecosystems and their use and conservation and further develop synergistic processes in this sector in order to contribute to a more effective implementation of the Rio conventions.

On Monday, participants heard presentations by the Rio conventions' secretariats, and considered the presentations and country case studies on Theme I, "Potential for synergies through forest landscape management and soil conservation," and on Theme II, "Ecosystem services and poverty reduction." On Tuesday, participants convened in eight working groups on synergy at the local level. On the last day, delegates listened to the presentation of and then discussed the outcomes of the working groups, exchanged views on synergy among Rio conventions focal point representatives, discussed financing for synergy and adopted the workshop's report.


Conservation and sustainable use of forests and forest ecosystems are the key to maintaining biodiversity, managing climate change, and combating desertification. Therefore forests have been recognized as a cross-cutting theme of the Rio conventions, around which an integrated programme approach could help achieve synergistic results under the three instruments: the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The measures applicable to forests are stipulated by all three agreements.

Stemming from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the CCD is the centerpiece in the international community's efforts to combat desertification and land degradation. Adopted in 1994, the Convention entered into force on 26 December 1996, and currently has 190 Parties. The CCD recognizes the physical, biological and socioeconomic aspects of desertification, the importance of redirecting technology transfer so that it is demand-driven, and the involvement of local communities in combating desertification and land degradation. The core of the CCD is the development of national, subregional and regional action programmes (NAPs, SRAPs and RAPs, respectively) by national governments, in cooperation with donors, local communities and NGOs. The CCD also contains implementation annexes, which require that NAPs integrate and manage natural resources, including forests. National reports of the Parties to the CCD indicate that measures relating to forests were among those being taken to combat desertification.

The CBD aims to promote "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources." Many provisions and activities of the CBD apply to forests. A work programme on forest biodiversity was adopted by the fourth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD in 1998. CBD COP-5, held in 2000, agreed on a number of decisions relevant to forests, including the commitment to an ecosystem approach to forest conservation and cooperation with other international bodies. In 2002, COP-6 agreed on the expanded work programme on forest biodiversity that identifies goals, objectives and activities under three elements: conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing; institutional and socioeconomic enabling environment; and knowledge, assessment, and monitoring.

The UNFCCC sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in order to avoid "dangerous anthropogenic interference" with the climate system. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC commits developed countries and countries with economies in transition to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol address forest issues with regard to the removal by sinks of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The Protocol recognizes that land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities can provide a cost-effective way to combat climate change, either by increasing the removals by sinks or by reducing emissions. It also obliges Parties to implement programmes and measures that mitigate or promote adaptation to climate change, such as promotion of sustainable forest management (SFM), afforestation and reforestation.

Forests and forest ecosystems are also addressed by the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), an intergovernmental process with the objective of promoting the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. Synergies in conservation and sustainable use of forests are also sought within the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an interagency partnership of 14 major forest-related international organizations, institutions and convention secretariats, which aims to support the work of the UNFF and its member countries and enhance cooperation and coordination on forest issues.

SYNERGIES: The Rio conventions share a common concern for many environmental and sustainable development issues. They also contain a number of cross-cutting issues in terms of standard obligations, implementation measures and the need for capacity building. In recognition of the strong potential for synergies in the development and implementation of activities under the Rio conventions, a Joint Liaison Group (JLG) between the CBD, UNFCCC and CCD Secretariats was established in 2001 with an aim to enhance coordination between the secretariats and explore options for future cooperation, such as a joint work plan. The JLG meets annually. At the last session, the JLG reiterated that realizing synergy is most important at the national level. The workshop on forests and forest ecosystems is an important opportunity for galvanizing collaborative initiatives among the national focal points of the three conventions.

The CCD COP has repeatedly called for closer collaboration among other conventions and bodies. CCD COP-2 in 1998 requested the CCD Secretariat to propose further steps to enhance cooperation among convention secretariats and develop memoranda of understanding with relevant secretariats (ICCD/COP(2)/L.8). In 1999, COP-3 called for closer working relationship with related institutions and synergies, including through linkages between the national focal points of environmental conventions, in its decision on traditional knowledge (ICCD/COP(3)/L.3). COP-5, held in 2001, adopted a decision on strengthening relationships with other conventions and international organizations (ICCD/COP(5)/L.23). At COP-6, held in 2003, the Parties encouraged the Joint Liaison Group to identify possible areas for developing joint activities, including facilitation of local-level initiatives. In its decision on synergies (ICCD/COP(6)/L.19/Rev.1), COP-6 encouraged the other relevant conventions, international organizations, agencies and institutions to explore appropriate opportunities to promote synergistic approaches and initiatives, with a view to fostering their collaboration with the CCD. COP-6 welcomed the agreed joint work programme on dry and sub-humid lands between the CBD and CCD. It further requested the CCD, in collaboration with the UNFF, UNFCCC and CBD to promote activities with Low Forest Cover Countries (LFCCs), and called for a joint approach on forests.

Within this framework, the CCD Secretariat launched a national synergy workshop programme in late 2000. Since then, national workshops have been held in selected developing countries in order to stimulate the discussion of modalities of collaboration by various stakeholders in the implementation of the three conventions. Proposed options for development of synergies among conventions at the local level included options for the forestry sector.


On Monday morning, 5 April 2004, Ervedo Giordano, University of Tuscia, welcomed participants, underlining the importance of creating synergies among the Rio conventions in order to mitigate climate change, prevent biodiversity loss and combat desertification.

Paolo Soprano, Italian Ministry of Environment, said the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) confirmed that the Rio conventions and synergies in their implementation are key to achieving sustainable development. He stressed the need to include other conventions, such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) into synergy development. He underscored the need for concrete and practical actions and integrated projects, calling upon Parties and the JLG to take action in this regard. Soprano emphasized the contribution of the Rio conventions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and noted the role of the UN funding agencies in supporting implementation in least developed countries.

CCD Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo said the workshop provides an opportunity to explore how synergies can support implementation in the best interest of the local, national, regional and global communities. He said that the CCD Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) has identified possible actions that prevent land degradation, maintain vegetation cover and biodiversity, and help mitigate climate change. Calling upon participants to implement these options, Diallo suggested prioritizing actions that accommodate the concerns of all three conventions in the development of national biodiversity strategies and action plans, the UNFCCC national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) and NAPs to combat desertification.

CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan outlined the CBD COP-7 decisions on collaboration among the Rio conventions and stressed the need to overcome self-imposed boundaries and learn from each other. He explained that barriers impeding effective implementation at the national level are often linked to inadequate land use regimes and lack of inter-sectoral integration, and suggested that the workshop identify obstacles and challenges in integrating the conventions' agendas, as well as areas for new synergies. Zedan recommended that the workshop be guided by the concepts of integration and collaboration underlying the CBD ecosystem approach, and that the Rio conventions' secretariats not only facilitate, but also participate in this process.

Zedan suggested that coordination and collaboration at the national level draw on the experiences of ongoing coordination activities of the Rio convention secretariats, including regular meetings of the JLG, facilitated access to databases and the joint calendar, coordinated education and public awareness activities, joint proposals and work plans. He stressed that national collaboration is an opportunity to use available resources more efficiently and make funding more accessible. Zedan also recommended that biodiversity concerns be integrated in the planning and implementation activities under other conventions and that the workshop provide specific recommendations for coordinated actions on forests.

Dennis Tirpak, UNFCCC, on behalf of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Joke Waller-Hunter, reiterated the need for cooperation among the Rio conventions that are all at the implementation stage. Recalling the UNFCCC workshop on synergies and cooperation with other conventions held in 2003, he expressed hope that this workshop will provide information and identify options for collaboration to be brought to the attention of the next UNFCCC COP. He further encouraged learning from different cultures and success stories in order to ensure the survival of forests.

Giancarlo Gabbianelli, Mayor of Viterbo, welcomed the participants to Viterbo, noting that sustainable use of natural resources is a priority for many people, and expressed hope that the workshop will not only reflect on the current situation, but also provide answers to existing problems.

Participants elected by acclamation Riccardo Valentini, University of Tuscia, and Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Chair of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), as the workshop Co-Chairs. Co-Chair Valentini said the workshop would support exchange of experiences among national focal points and discussions on a bottom-up approach to synergies at the local level.

This report summarizes workshop's discussions in the plenary and working groups and is organized according to the workshop's themes: Theme I "Potential for synergies through forest landscape management and soil conservation" and Theme II "Ecosystem services and poverty reduction." On Tuesday, 6 April, participants convened in eight working groups on synergy at the local level. Working groups on Theme I discussed: preventing and mitigating threats to forests and forest ecosystems; forest landscape restoration; sustainable forest management; and enhancing the enabling environment. Working groups on Theme II considered: sustainable livelihoods and forest resources; access and benefit-sharing sharing of forests and genetic resources; applying appropriate technology; and forest-related knowledge.

Under their respective topics, the working groups discussed the following themes: the main elements upon which effective synergy can be built and translated into concrete actions at the local level, the global impact of these actions; indicators for evaluating the forest-related projects in terms of their synergetic potential; mechanisms to facilitate implementation of policy options on forests and forest ecosystems at the local and international levels; and lessons learned in achieving synergy at the local level, the areas for enhanced cooperation among national focal points, and the contribution of the international enabling environment to strengthening the synergies at the local level.

Editor's Note: The Earth Negotiations Bulletin covered Theme I working groups on forest landscape restoration and on enhancing the enabling environment and Theme II working groups on sustainable livelihoods and on forest resources and access and benefit sharing of forests and genetic resources. Coverage of the other working groups is limited to the summaries of the facilitators of the working groups presented in plenary on Wednesday.


In plenary on Monday, Ndegwa Ndiang'ui, CCD, highlighted decisions of the CCD COPs regarding synergies and cooperation with other conventions, particularly in relation to catalyzing the dialogue at the national and local levels and identifying the areas of the conventions' converging interests. He reported on the outcomes of the CCD national synergy workshop programme, which highlighted the need for local capacity support, flexibility and increased cooperation among the convention secretariats, and highlighted the role of the JLG in creating synergies and close working relationships among the conventions. He called upon national focal points to reach out to the local level and create close working relationships, including with the GEF focal points.

Jo Mulongoy, CBD, described the CBD's key features relating to synergy and highlighted the ecosystem approach as a primary framework for action under the Convention. He said that the target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 provides a basis for synergies and helps create a framework for monitoring and reporting and focus the actions of multiple actors. Mulongoy outlined the CBD Secretariat's activities on synergies with the Rio conventions and other biodiversity-related agreements, including the CMS, Ramsar Convention, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the World Heritage Convention. He highlighted the outcomes of a CBD workshop held in 2003 in Marrakech, which pointed out, inter alia, the need to facilitate and monitor the follow-up to the synergy meetings. He also said that the recommendations received in response to a questionnaire on synergies sent out by the CBD in preparation for this workshop will be compiled by the JLG. Mulongoy recommended: incorporating synergies into the national action plans and programmes; setting up horizontal and vertical structures to promote cooperation and collaboration; creating indicative institutional models for supporting synergies; and using the opportunities for synergies provided by the programme on forest biodiversity.

Dennis Tirpak, UNFCCC Secretariat, provided an overview of the provisions pertaining to forests in the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. He noted that the Kyoto Protocol encourages afforestation, reforestation, and forest management activities, as well as projects that use biomass as a renewable energy source. On reporting and review provisions, he said that progress in collecting data on anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removals by sinks from the LULUCF sector provides an important foundation for improved decision making. Tirpak also highlighted the priority attached to adaptation to the effects of climate change and said that the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) strongly supports collaboration with other processes, noting the UNFCCC's participation in the JLG, the UNFF and the CPF, and its cooperation with the FAO on reporting, forest data and models for adaptation. He said that the current and future issues for consideration by the UNFCCC relate to small-scale afforestation and reforestation projects in developing countries, harvested wood products and future treatment of forests and sinks.

Kanta Kumari, Global Environment Facility (GEF), outlined the scope for supporting synergies in forest and landscape management under the GEF. She said that synergies are important to safeguard investments, enhance interlinkages between global issues and national priorities, and increase the cost effectiveness of implementing activities. Kumari explained how the GEF operational programme on forest biodiversity, NAPAs, and National Capacity Self Assessments (NCSAs) can provide support for synergies in implementation at different stages of forest land-use and conversion. She noted that the scope for synergy is still limited by lack of information, awareness, expertise, capacity and coordination.

PLENARY DISCUSSIONS: One participant stressed the need for a clear notion of, and criteria and indicators for, synergies, raising concerns about areas with lack of appropriate regulation, such as traditional and local knowledge. He also noted the need to address access and benefit-sharing (ABS) for forest services and products and improve market access on the international level. Another participant proposed that a group of experts of the subsidiary bodies to the conventions develop a joint action plan on synergies. Cautioning against duplication of work in the name of synergy, a participant stressed the need to identify: concerns that have not been addressed by the existing conventions; areas and levels at which synergies are required; and areas of overlap and contradiction among the conventions. Participants also noted that synergy requires political will, policy consensus and capacity for implementation, with one participant proposing that the JLG involve representatives of the UNFF and other forest-related institutions and develop guidance on the establishment of national synergy committees and the provision of training.


Theme I was introduced in presentations, country case studies and discussions in plenary on Monday. On Tuesday morning, participants convened in four working groups to discuss: preventing and mitigating threats to forests and forest ecosystems; forest landscape restoration; sustainable forest management (SFM); and enhancing the enabling environment. The outcomes of the working groups were presented by the groups' facilitators to plenary on Wednesday.

PLENARY PRESENTATIONS AND DISCUSSIONS: Michael Martin, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), discussed regional perspectives on forests. He discussed the National Forest Programme Facility, an ongoing dynamic policy dialogue on forests encompassing environmental and development issues, as a useful framework for synergies, and highlighted the importance of the CPF in enhancing cooperation and coordination on forest issues. He also outlined: the role of the FAO regional forestry commissions in facilitating information exchange and regional collaboration; the results of the FAO case studies on the role of planted forests; FAO's work in LFCCs; and the importance of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (GFRA). He concluded that collaboration is already taking place, including at the landscape level, and called for utilizing the potential of cooperation among the FAO regional forestry commissions and the Rio conventions.

Elisabeth Barsk-Rundquist, UNFF, described the international dialogue on forests, stressing the role of the UNFF in the further development of international forest policy and the implementation of the proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) (IPF/IFF Proposals for Action). She said the UNFF is directly linked to the broader agenda of sustainable development and is unique in its comprehensive scope, universal membership and its coordination of the forest-related activities via the CPF. Barsk-Rundquist highlighted the CPF Task Force on Streamlining Forest-related Reporting and its work towards harmonizing and reducing reporting, including facilitation of easy access to national forest-related information through a web-based portal.

She said the synergies between the UNFF and the Rio conventions include: examining the relationships between the IPF/IFF Proposals for Action and the CBD work on forest biodiversity; addressing special needs of LFCCs; and collaborating on issues related to adaptation and mitigation of climate change. Noting the importance of other legally-binding instruments, including the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), CITES and the Ramsar Convention, Barsk-Rundquist expressed hope that the workshop will be of value to the work of Ad Hoc Expert Group of the UNFF to Consider the Parameters of a Mandate for Developing a Legal Framework on All Types of Forests.

Brent Swallow, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), presented case studies on three watersheds in Indonesia, Thailand and Kenya, which demonstrate the potential for agroforestry to perform watershed and soil conservation functions under specific conditions, stressing, inter alia, long-term impacts of the conversion of forest to other land uses and the linkages among farmers' activities and watershed conditions and soil quality.

Johann Goldammer, Global Fire Monitoring Center, discussed current threats to forest ecosystems through wildfires, highlighting the use of fire for the conversion of forest land, overgrazing, lack of natural regeneration, and accumulation of combustible biomass as the main reason for the global increase in wildfires. He stressed the harmful effects of fires in unadapted rainforest ecosystems, the negative impacts of smoke pollution and the high number of unreported disasters in South America and Russia. Goldammer highlighted, inter alia, the need to build fire management capacity, address the problem of biomass accumulation, develop monitoring technologies, and strengthen community-based fire management.

Country Case Studies: Sen Wang, Canadian Forest Service, presented China's experiences in addressing environmental degradation and its efforts to develop an integrated, cross-sectoral and bioregional approach in the implementation of the Rio conventions. He highlighted the creation of forest networks and the conversion of marginal land to forests as a way to achieve a balance among ecological restoration, conservation and poverty reduction.

Andrea Vannini, Italy, discussed a pilot project on urban forests to be carried out within a programme of bilateral cooperation between Italy and Algeria as an example of how reforestation actions can contribute to the goals of the Rio conventions.

Discussion: A representative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) said synergies among the conventions require the harmonization of terminology and highlighted IUFRO's database on forest-related terminology. A participant highlighted Italy's support to reforestation efforts and fighting against deforestation in LFCCs, and supported creating a permanent working group among the conventions' national focal points.

WORKING GROUPS: Preventing and Mitigating Threats to Forests and Forest Ecosystems: This working group, facilitated by Marina Stadthagen Icaza (Nicaragua) considered threats to forests and forest ecosystems that present obstacles for the achievement of the objectives of the conventions and should be addressed in a synergistic manner. As major threats and areas for synergistic approaches, the group identified: deforestation, fragmentation and conversion of forests to other land uses; forest fires and fire management; forest biodiversity loss; climate change; and land degradation.

On fire management, the group suggested the dissemination of the ITTO guidelines for fire management, development of global, regional and local early warning systems, community-based fire management and capacity building. The group also suggested: information exchange; national forest inventories; promotion of forest renewable energies; and research on the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of forest ecosystems as general means to improve synergies. Recommendations made by the group included: a task force to facilitate reporting; criteria and indicators to measure the success of synergy work; better coordination and communication among national focal points; and joint preparation of documentation and action plans, policy harmonization, awareness rising and capacity building.

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR): During this session, facilitated by Catherine Okotiko (Cameroon), the participants heard a presentation by the IUCN representatives on the contribution of FLR and the Global Partnership for FLR to the implementation of the Rio conventions. Participants also shared the lessons learned from national experiences and FAO case studies. Some participants, citing their national examples of overcoming these constraints via the land use strategies and national inter-agency committees, said the appropriate mechanisms for synergies already exist. In response, other participants noted the differences of national contexts, and highlighted the lack of political will and appropriate institutional structures for cooperation and communication in developing countries. Several delegates suggested focusing the discussion on implementation actions on the ground. As elements and mechanisms to create synergies and implement policies, the group identified, inter alia, land tenure rights, national forest programmes, community-level participation, FLR projects, and adequate levels of funding, stressing the need to create political will to create synergies. On indicators, the group suggested developing checklists for evaluating the synergetic potential of the projects.

The group recommended, inter alia:

  • promoting success stories;
  • improving the institutional structure for cooperation at the local level;
  • exploring opportunities for pilot project work;
  • utilizing the potential of small-scale projects under the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM); and that, at the national level, no restoration or rehabilitation project should be approved unless it has synergetic benefits.

Sustainable Forest Management (SFM): This working group, facilitated by Samsudin Musa (Malaysia), addressed potential synergies in the area of SFM, noting its particular role for the creation of synergies in the implementation of the three conventions. The group recognized the contribution of the CPF, UNFF and other bilateral and national initiatives to synergies. The group identified the main areas of synergy in SFM, including preservation and increase of carbon stocks, preserving and maintaining soil fertility and maintaining water quality. The group also discussed the need to improve communication between the focal points of the Rio conventions and the UNFF, disseminate information through the convention secretariats, and develop a system of criteria and indicators on the synergetic value of SFM projects. Participants agreed to request the JLG, CPF, UNFF and FAO to consider the development of a mechanism to present case studies demonstrating high synergetic value.

Enhancing the Enabling Environment: This working group, chaired by Alfredo Guillet (Italy), urged the development of practical means of integration that go beyond communication, such as national coordination agencies, clearinghouse mechanisms for structured information on synergies, the coordination of national focal points and the development of synergetic projects. Many participants called for comprehensive national strategies, based on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

Participants proposed to review national experiences with synergies and assess how integrated projects and partnerships are developed in order to evaluate the role of the enabling environment. They also discussed whether donor countries and agencies should be involved in the development of national enabling environments, with many saying that their influence should be limited and noting that formats for projects need to be more flexible.

As important obstacles for synergies, the group identified the lack of: communication and information sharing, consideration of the objectives of the conventions in policy making, and cooperation among negotiating and implementing agencies. On information sharing, the group recommended, inter alia, national forums and workshops based on structured pre-meeting communication among national focal points, and integrated documentation on synergetic agenda items in order to enable information transfer. On national strategy development, the recommended actions included participatory development and the integration of the convention objectives into other national strategies such as for poverty eradication.


Theme II was introduced in presentations, country case studies and discussions in Plenary on Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, participants convened in four working group sessions to consider: sustainable livelihoods and forest resources; ABS of forests and genetic resources; applying appropriate technology; and forest-related knowledge. The outcomes of the working group sessions were presented by the groups' facilitators to Plenary on Wednesday.

PLENARY PRESENTATIONS AND DISCUSSIONS: In Plenary on Monday, Philippe Mayaux, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, discussed the potential role of forests in adaptation and mitigation of climate change and explained how techniques based on remote sensing allow for operational monitoring of forest dynamics, including deforestation trends. He stressed the need for a holistic approach to the involvement of local populations and all sectors related to forests and for incentives for pristine forest protection and SFM.

Daniel Murdiyarso, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), discussed the role of forests and forest ecosystems in poverty reduction, stressing the need to, inter alia, simplify procedures for developing new markets for environmental services provided by forest ecosystems and reduce transaction costs for project development and monitoring. He also discussed environmental and social benefits provided by community-based landscape management, highlighting improved livelihoods, the recognition of local knowledge, and enhanced negotiating positions of the communities. He also pointed out the tradeoffs between different land-use options.

Jean-Laurent Pfund, Intercooperation, presented the results of a recent workshop on adaptation to climate change, sustainable livelihoods, and biological diversity held in 2004, in Costa Rica. He reported that the workshop highlighted, inter alia, that implementation of the conventions requires improved communication of their objectives to the different audiences and the empowerment of local communities.

Carole Saint-Laurent, World Conservation Union (IUCN), presented FLR, a process to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes that aims at restoring functionality of ecosystems, as a synergistic approach to implementation of the Rio conventions. She explained that each of the three conventions aims at the rehabilitation, restoration and conservation of ecosystems, requires the participation of local stakeholders and aims to support poverty eradication. Outlining the techniques and benefits of FLR, she demonstrated that it provides equitable land-use tradeoffs while restoring ecosystem functions.

Rose Askew, Edinburgh Center for Carbon Management (ECCM), said the ECCM aims at establishing links among governments, business and international institutions in order to develop integrated actions on the objectives of three conventions. She highlighted that private business often does not engage in carbon trading because it is perceived to be costly, difficult and uncertain. She presented several examples of forestry offset projects involving companies and farmers, stressing the need to promote and communicate the objectives of such projects.

Country Case Studies: Anders Portin (Finland) explained the history of developing forest policy in Finland, noting that the involvement of forest owners in policy making helped address problems of poverty and maintain ecosystem services. He also discussed Finland's National Forest Programme 2010 as an example of a cross-sectoral, holistic, long-term action plan that is integrated into climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development strategies.

Octavio Pérez Pardo (Argentina) discussed approaches to synergies among the conventions in his country. Stressing that synergies should be guided by the needs at the local level, he described a programme on combating desertification by reforestation with native species. Pardo explained that the programme not only contributes to biodiversity conservation and climate change protection, but also creates employment and raises the value of rehabilitated land. He suggested focusing on the mechanisms for information exchange among the conventions and recommended developing indicators for assessing the synergetic impacts of projects.

Discussion: Commenting on the presented case studies, a participant recommended that the working group address the important contribution of grassroots-level NGOs. A representative of a developing country asked who will decide on the carbon credits obtained through the biodiversity conservation programmes undertaken by the poor in developing countries. Diallo said the opportunities for concrete actions on protecting and improving livelihoods already exist, and called upon international organizations and NGOs to use these opportunities and carry out concrete work in developing countries. A participant said the NAPs are an important tool for creating synergies, and called for creating capacities for synergies in the countries that are currently developing their NAPs. Participants also shared experiences of FLR in their countries, with some pointing out the possibility of developing FLR under the CDM, and stressing that synergies between climate change and the CBD are very important.

WORKING GROUPS: Sustainable Livelihoods and Forest Resources: This working group was facilitated by Paulo Yoshio Kageyama, (Brazil). Participants stressed the importance of a people-centered approach in the implementation of the Rio conventions as an important element in achieving sustainable livelihoods. On elements for building synergies, the group called for, inter alia: defining the conventions' common geographic and thematic areas, evaluating the ways in which three conventions are addressing sustainable livelihoods, and developing criteria to monitor or evaluate projects based on national policy options.

On mechanisms for the implementation of forest-related policies, participants noted the importance of:

  • using a bottom-up approach to building synergies among the conventions;
  • promoting pro-poor activities through small-scale projects;
  • mainstreaming the goals of the conventions into local sustainable development strategies;
  • considering land tenure issues and the CBD provisions on forest use and the rights of the indigenous peoples; and
  • building capacities of indigenous and local communities.

On resources for synergies, the group underscored the importance of, inter alia, promoting new transparent markets for environmental services accessible to local actors. Participants also recommended:

  • developing targeted recommendations and case studies on the synergies created by some governments at the national and regional levels;
  • involving the private sector in synergetic solutions and exploring the potential of technical partnerships for building the capacities of local actors;
  • improving access to common markets by the local communities;
  • building the focal points' capacity to cooperate;
  • discussing the problem of allocating payments for the services provided by natural resources when there are no clearly defined property rights; and
  • utilizing the potential of the NFPs as a mechanism for coordination of policy options.

Acesss and Benefit-Sharing of Forests and Genetic Resources: David Hafashimana (Uganda) described how ABS is addressed under the CBD, highlighting the issues of national legislation and its relation to access and ownership rights, stakeholder awareness and the reconciliation of community rights with international provisions for conservation. Several participants suggested addressing the potential contribution of the CCD and UNFCCC to the ABS-related objectives in the CBD work programme on forest biodiversity, while others asked to broaden the discussion to include ABS for all forest products and measures for information exchange. One participant mentioned that ABS provides incentives for conservation, while another stressed the need to address unsustainable management practices due to inadequate access regulation. Participants also highlighted the need to strengthen legal ABS frameworks on issues of interest to the three conventions, while others cautioned against conflicts with international trade law and the sovereign rights of Parties.

On the stimulation of afforestation and reforestation by ABS, the group recommended:

  • support for concrete actions at the local level;
  • awareness raising;
  • priority setting;
  • involvement of national focal points;
  • indicator development at the national level; and
  • support through the international environment.

Other elements for potential synergies include: financial benefits of ABS that can be invested in conservation; SFM; and unsustainable management due to improperly defined ABS systems. As mechanisms for implementation, the group suggested, inter alia, capacity building and collaboration among national focal points and other institutions for the implementation of the conventions at the local level, and information sharing and public awareness supported by a clearinghouse mechanism.

Applying Appropriate Technology: This group, facilitated by Desh Deepak Verma (India) considered areas for synergy relating to the application of appropriate technologies with a focus on water harvesting technologies to fight land degradation. The participants developed a matrix of elements concerning the following thematic areas for synergies:

  • biomass for energy;
  • afforestation, reforestation and conversion of forests;
  • water harvesting for dryland reforestation;
  • soil conditioning;
  • tillage technologies for carbon storage in soils;
  • integrated water and energy management; and
  • animal agriculture.

Under each thematic area, the participants suggested a number of specific activities to encourage innovation, technology transfer and capacity building, inter alia:

  • research and development;
  • the use of market mechanisms and information technology;
  • education, extension and outreach; and
  • integrated development and application of sustainable management practices such as sustainable forest management.

Forest-related Knowledge: This group, facilitated by John Parrotta (US), discussed the relationship between traditional and scientific knowledge and the need to find a common language between them. On the elements for synergy, the group highlighted:

  • the CBD and CCD work on traditional knowledge;
  • the cross-cutting issue of availability of resources;
  • the importance of NGOs for preserving traditional knowledge;
  • untapped potential for integrating scientific and traditional knowledge into the projects under the conventions; and
  • the potential of adaptive community management by indigenous and local communities.

Participants recommended:

  • creating systems for documenting traditional knowledge and reviewing and developing legislation at the local level;
  • utilizing the existing processes, such as the UNFF, CPF, FAO, and NFPs as platforms and mechanisms for synergy;
  • developing and promoting information collection systems, particularly on traditional knowledge in LFCCs; and
  • supporting the integration of traditional and scientific knowledge for the development of synergistic projects, particularly in the case of unmanaged wildfires.


In plenary on Wednesday, participants discussed the outcomes of the working groups presented by the working groups' facilitators, heard the exchange of views on synergies among the representatives of the national focal points of the three Rio conventions, and considered the workshop's report.

PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF THE OUTCOMES OF THE WORKING GROUPS: Commenting on the facilitators' reports, participants noted that the outcomes of the working group sessions cannot be analyzed in detail during the workshop, and therefore they should be considered only as background materials, and not as the workshop's recommendations. One participant suggested that more workshops on the issue of synergies be conducted. Another participant suggested targeting the workshop's recommendations at the COPs of the Rio conventions. Diallo explained that the workshop should facilitate the discussion on synergies in the regional and national contexts and focus at the actions at the local level. Several participants also noted that the outcomes of the workshop should stress the need to capitalize on the existing initiatives and international processes and avoid duplication of efforts. On a suggestion for a new study on the issue of synergies, participants cautioned against duplicating the existing body of work on the issue of interlinkages among the conventions.

On FLR, participants reiterated, inter alia, the importance of evaluating the synergetic effects of existing and planned projects and creating communication forums. On enabling environments, participants highlighted, inter alia: the need for using all available information mechanisms beyond the CBD clearinghouse mechanism; the limited mandate of the JLG; and that formal arrangements for synergies depend on the national context and cautioned against calling for new legal provisions for synergies. On ABS of forests and genetic resources, a participant noted the need for a wide range of information exchange mechanisms. On ecosystem services and poverty reduction, participants reiterated the need to create synergies for monitoring and assessment at the national level. On forest-related knowledge, participants recommended: further enhancing the linkages between the CBD and the CCD; linking the outcomes of the group on ABS to the conclusions of the group on traditional knowledge; and incorporating an explicit reference to property rights in the workshop's report. Co-Chair Valentini said that the comments provided during the discussion will be reflected in the workshop's final report.

EXCHANGE OF VIEWS AMONG RIO CONVENTIONS NATIONAL FOCAL POINTS: A national focal point representative from Argentina commended the workshop's work, and recommended that countries unify their national positions at all COPs, prioritize the projects with synergetic results, and utilize the existing mechanisms for synergies. A national focal point representative from Senegal suggested: establishing coordination frameworks for cooperation among the focal points at the national level and integrating the goals of the conventions in the national poverty reduction strategies; recognizing efforts of the secretariats and encouraging them to continue their work on synergies; and creating an inventory of existing instruments in order to develop a coordinated approach. A national focal point representative from Brazil recommended distributing the workshop's report to all national focal points, including those not present at the workshop.

A national focal point representative from the US recommended, inter alia:

  • encouraging the synergies under the CBD forest biological diversity thematic area;
  • avoiding the duplication of work and identifying potential conflicts of the conventions' interests;
  • ensuring the transparency of the synergy process and involving other relevant organizations; and
  • coordinating the national activities through the CPF.

A national focal point representative from Uganda said this workshop provided a good platform for strengthening synergies, noted the need for formal and informal mechanisms to create working relationship among focal points, and explained how the national GEF Steering Committee helped create this relationship in Uganda. He also recommended linking the conventions' goals to national development objectives and said the focal points should provide input to poverty reduction strategies and other frameworks, including district and national development plans. Citing the success of Uganda's national forum on synergies, he recommended creating forum for periodic evaluation of synergies at the national level, promoting successful examples of synergies at the local level, and providing financial support to synergies at the national level.

A national focal point representative from New Zealand stressed the importance of improved communication and dissemination of case studies of successful synergetic projects at all levels. A national focal point representative from Portugal encouraged all national focal points to take the lead in creating synergies. A representative of the three Rio conventions' focal points from Hungary said the key messages of the workshop are: the need for coordination at the operational level and the communication of information on the conventions to stakeholders at the local level. Diallo encouraged the focal points to disseminate their success stories, reach out to a wider range of actors and enhance the dialogue at the local level where it is most efficient.

FINANCING FOR SYNERGY: Kanta Kumari (GEF) outlined the sources of financing for synergy programmes, including: national development funding, markets for environmental services, including carbon funds, public-private partnerships, overseas development assistance, and funding from the private sector and philanthropic foundations. She suggested discussing: the potential cost and cost savings resulting from synergies; who should bear additional costs; and how to secure financing. Several participants presented their ongoing synergistic projects supported by the GEF, including on: reforestation for carbon sequestration and combating desertification in China; soil conservation in Cuba; and combating desertification and biodiversity loss in Senegal. The participants' country case studies highlighted the need for demand-driven synergies and signaled the commitment of the GEF to finance synergies in the future. One participant asked for funding for improved coordination and awareness raising, while another stressed the need to ensure that requirements for synergies do not impede or postpone the provision of funding for projects where synergies are difficult to achieve. Kumari explained that support for targeted, stand-alone projects for capacity building will be made available, but stressed that the benefits of synergies justify additional cost in most cases, improve effectiveness of donor assistance, and help involve private business in implementation activities.

REPORT OF THE WORKSHOP: Commenting on the outcomes of the workshop, several participants raised concerns about the possibility that synergetic benefits become a conditionality for project financing, with one participant stressing that the prioritization for GEF financing is carried out at the national level. In response, Tirpak and Diallo clarified that the outcomes of the workshop do not intend to alter the criteria for GEF funding. Diallo encouraged all stakeholders to report on their efforts to create synergies, particularly with regard to improving the coordination among national focal points and the involvement of civil society and NGOs.

Commenting on the report, many participants reiterated that the report should not be considered a consensus document, since it does not adequately represent all issues raised during the discussions in the working groups and plenary. Some also suggested that the outcomes of the workshop be referred to as a Co-Chairs' summary, and not the final workshop report. The Co-Chairs explained that they will send the report to the workshop's participants for further feedback and revise it in accordance with their comments.

On the suggestion that the JLG carry out information dissemination activities, Mulongoy suggested that such activities be initiated by the secretariats and carried out within the CPF framework. One participant called for the convening of regional workshops for capacity building for local initiatives, and many commended the workshop as a useful forum for exchanging views and information.

In his closing remarks, Diallo said the workshop's outcomes will be of interest for many actors and institutions working to create synergies and encouraged discussing its outcomes in other relevant fora. He closed the workshop at 5:15 pm.


SECOND WORLD CONFERENCE ON BIOMASS FOR ENERGY, INDUSTRY, AND CLIMATE PROTECTION: This event on the use of biomass as a source of renewable energy and carbon dioxide reduction will be held from 10-14 May 2004, in Rome, Italy. For more information, contact: ETA Renewable Energies, Italy; tel: +39-55-500-2174; fax: +39-55-573-425; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF TROPICAL FORESTS: PRIVATE-SECTOR EXPERIENCES: This conference, organized by the ITTO, will be held from 13-15 April 2004, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with an aim to contribute to the attainment of ITTO Objective 2000 at the forest management unit level. For more information, contact: Kamaruzaman Ali Budin, ITTO International Conference Secretariat, Forestry Department Pen; tel: +60-32-696-2571; fax: +60-32-692-5657; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FOREST RESOURCES (SIMFOR 2004): This meeting organized by IUFRO will convene from 21-23 April 2004, in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. For more information, contact: Fernando Hernandez Martinez; tel: +53-82-779-363; fax: +53-82-779-353; e-mail: ; Internet:

UNFF-4: The fourth session of the UNFF will convene from 3-14 May 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland. It will address, inter alia: progress in implementation, forest-related knowledge, social and cultural aspects of forests; and means of implementation. For more information, contact: Elisabeth Barsk-Rundquist, UNFF Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-3262; fax: +1-917-367-3186; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGIES (RENEWABLES2004): Renewables2004 will be held from 1-4 June 2004, in Bonn, Germany. It will consider, inter alia, financing (instruments) and market development, formation of enabling political framework conditions, and capacity building. For more information, contact: Secretariat of the International Conference for Renewable Energies; tel: +49-6196-794404; fax: +49-6196-794405; e-mail:; Internet:

TWENTIETH SESSIONS OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODIES TO THE UNFCCC: The twentieth sessions the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to the UNFCCC will convene from 16-25 June 2004, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: ; Internet:

ITTC-36: The thirty-sixth session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) will take place from 20-23 July 2004, in Interlaken, Switzerland. For more information, contact: ITTO Secretariat; tel: +81-45-223-1110; fax: +81-45-223-1111; e-mail:; Internet:

NEGOTIATIONS OF A SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT TO ITTA, 1994: These negotiations will be held from 26-30 July 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland, following ITTC-36. For more information, contact: ITTO Secretariat; tel: +81-45-223-1110; fax: +81-45-223-1111; e-mail:; Internet:

UNFF AD HOC EXPERT GROUP ON CONSIDERATION OF A LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON ALL TYPES OF FORESTS: The ad hoc expert group of the UNFF on consideration with a view to recommending the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests will meet in response to the decision of the UN Economic and Social Council from 6-10 September 2004, in New York. For more information, contact: Elisabeth Barsk-Rundquist, UNFF Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-3263; fax: +1-917-367-3186; e-mail:; Internet:

TENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UNFCCC: UNFCCC COP-10 will meet from 29 November to 10 December 2004, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; Internet:

SEVENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE CCD: CCD COP-7 is scheduled to convene from 17-28 October 2005, in Bonn, Germany, to consider, inter alia: the programme and budget for 2006-2007; reviews of the implementation of the CCD; the Regional Coordinating Units; arbitration and conciliation procedures; a comprehensive review of the activities of the Secretariat; and consideration of progress made by the Global Mechanism in mobilizing financial resources to support CCD implementation. For more information, contact: CCD Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-2802; fax: +49-228-815-2898; e-mail: ; Internet:

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