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Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests
New York, 31 January - 11 February 2000

Consensus achieved at IFF-4
After a sleepless night of negotiations, delegates achieved consensus on all outstanding issues. IFF will forward a completely clean (unbracketed) text to CSD-8. With a magnificent sunrise as a backdrop, the Co-chairs officially closed IFF-4 at 6:50 am. Please see the Summary of the Final Plenary, available below.

<< View of the dias and the eastern window of Conference Room Two, 6:49 am.

The Last Day of IFF-4: An Illustrated Timeline

10:30 am: IFF Co-chair Bagher Asadi and Jag Maini, Head and Coordinator of the IFF Secretariat, held a press conference.

"Consensus has been achieved on many issues under the programme of work of the IFF... though not all." Asadi said that the major unresolved issue of Category III is the legally binding instrument on all types of forest. Both developing and developed countries were to be found on either side of the divide, but he remained optimistic. Asadi outlined the United Nations Forum on Forests, the permanent institutional arrangement proposed as a follow-up to the IFF process.

"Forestry issues are extremely complex, a microcosm of sustainable development." Among the challenges to sustainable forest management, Maini spoke of the dilemma faced by many developing country governments: feed people or protect the forests. He also touched on isses of market access for developing countries, and the different uses wood has in the North and South.

11:30 am: Delegates waiting in the halls for the meeting of the Contact Group on Category III (future internatinal arrangements and mechanisms)


Kimo Goree, Managing Editor of the ENB, discussing possible outcomes with Members of the Danish delegation before the start of the 3:00 pm meeting on Category III >>
The Contact Group on Category III met in the afternoon, and again at 9:00 pm. Delegations could not resolve their differences on the future arrangement and went into the midnight Plenary with opinions on whether a LBI should form part of a future arrangement still polarized.


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IFF-4 Multimedia Archives

Previous days' photos and RealAudio
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Thu10 Jeu10
Wed 9 Mer 9
Tue 8 Mar 8
Mon 7 Lun 7
Fri 4 Ven 4
Thu 3 Jeu 3
Wed 2 Mer 2
Tue 1 Mar 1
Mon31 Lun31

Archive of Daily Reports

ENB (English)
Fri 11
Wed 9
Tue 8
Mon 7
Fri 4
Thu 3
Wed 2
Tue 1
BNT (Français)
Ven 11
Jeu 10
Mer 9
Mar 8
Lun 7
Ven 4
Jeu 3
Mer 2
Mar 1
Lun 31

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<< 2:59 pm. This was to be the last meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chambers, and the last session to be chaired by Ambassador Insanally (shown here waiting for delegate to take their seats).

Final Plenary
Co-Chair Ristimäki opened the closing Plenary at midnight in Conference Room Two and introduced the draft report of IFF-4. Delegates considered and adopted each section of the report along with oral amendments read by the Co-Chairs. Co-Chair Asadi then asked delegates to speak to unresolved issues surrounding the proposed international arrangement which had been under discussion in the contact group on Category III, and suggested delegates take a short break for consultation.

Plenary reconvened at 2:00 am. The G-77/CHINA remarked that the debate now centered around a couple of words with stronger or weaker connotations for a possible legal framework on forests, and said the G-77/CHINA had been unable to agree to wording that would adequately express emotions and allow the debate to move forward in a manner that would allow them to feel comfortable. Chair Asadi said progress hinged on a paragraph on initiating a process to consider preparations for a legal framework on forests. CANADA noted its preference for text with referrence to developing a legal framework. The G-77/CHINA opposed using the word develop.

G77/China states that "finances can kill a devil... maybe even an angel" and appeals for the Co-Chair's intervention with regards to the lack of financial committments in the draft text.

Noting it was 2:15 am and hoping that progress would be made, Co-Chair Asadi invited key delegates to participate in an informal consultation. Right: Asadi entering the chambers where the informals were held, 2:35 am.

For two and a half hours, a handful of delegations met in the informal consultation while the most others waited in the conference room.
3:59 am: Everton Vargas, Brazil (on the right), updating members of the Colombian delegation on progress made. Rumours were circulating that the informals were dead-locked, and that the IFF might have to forward bracketed text to CSD-8...
4:50 am: From left to right: Maini, Ristimäki and the Osita Anaedu (Nigeria), Representative of the G77/China, emerging from the back room. Anaedu immediately went to consult with members of the Group of 77 and China >>
4:55 am: From left to right: Andrey Vasiliyev, Division for Sustainable Development (DESA) listens as the spokesperson for the EU updates Co-Chair Asadi on the tense situation at the informals.
5:11 am: Canadian delegation emerges from the chambers at the back of the room, stating the paragraph 3c (process for considering an LBI) has been resolved to the satisfaction of all.
5:31 am: Members of the EU gathered around a piece of proposed text freshly released from the informals.

At 5:55 am, Co-Chair Asadi resumed the Plenary and announced that delegates had agreed to text stating that the ECOSOC and GA would, within five years and on the basis of the agreed to assessment of the arrangement, "consider with a view to recommending the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests. This process could develop the financial provisions to implement any future agreed legal framework." They also agreed to text stating: "take steps to devise approaches towards appropriate financial and tech support to enable the implementation of SFM, as proposed or recommended under the IPF and IFF processes." Delegates then adopted the text on the proposed arrangement as well as the report of the meeting. Asadi then proposed, and delegates adopted, an oral decision stating that the IFF adopts text on the draft decision and decides to convey this to the CSD for consideration and appropriate action.

Asadi thanked the delegates and the IFF Secretariat, and commended delegates for never having wavered from the task at hand (RealAudio of Asadi's address). The G-77/CHINA hoped that concrete steps for implementation of IPF and IFF proposals for action would now begin. Noting that some key issues of finance, transfer of EST and trade remain unresolved, he said the crux of the issue is in the control of global markets for forest products and remarked that the five countries who comprise 53% of the market have the future of forests in their hands. He said developing countries are marginalized from access to global markets. In closing, he hoped the proposed arrangement would not meet the same fate of the IPF/IFF proposals and that implementation will become the watchword (RealAudio of G-77/China statement). The EU said the IFF has been an enriching learning experience. CANADA identified the IFF process as the most significant accomplishment by the CSD and said he was proud of achieving what Canada has wanted for so long (RealAudio of Canada's statement). The US said international forest policy has stepped into a new stage. Jag Maini, IFF Secretariat, also extended his gratitude and congratulated delegates on work well done. Remarking on the rising sun outside the conference room window, Co-Chair Ristimäki commented that "the sun also rises and so does the IFF." He described the IFF as a collective experience with delegates driving national interests yet managing to serve a common goal. He thanked the IFF and CSD Secretariats, international organizations, NGOs, and indigenous peoples for their contributions and gaveled IFF-4 to a close at 6:50 am on Saturday, 12 February (RealAudio of Ristimäki statement).

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ENB Coverage of IFF-3
Linkages coverage of the IPF and IFF process
IFF Secretariat web site with official documents and information for participants
ENB's "Introduction to Global Forest Policy"
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