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Second Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests

UN Headquarters, New York | 4-15 March 2002



Friday, 15 March: UNFF-2 ends with praise for Maini - and unfinished business
After a brief morning Plenary during which the contact and working group Chairs gave updates on their work, delegates spent the remainder of the day frantically completing their work. During the final Plenary, the Chairs reported on the successful completion of their work, with one exception: the working group on terms of reference for the ad hoc expert groups. After some debate, it was decided that the text on the expert groups would be bracketed in its entirety and transmitted to UNFF-3. Following the adoption of the report of the meeting and expressions of thanks to Jag Maini, outgoing Head of the UNFF Secretariat, UNFF-2 Chair Øistad closed the meeting at 6:20 PM. Above: The final moments of UNFF-2 - a standing ovation for Maini.
Morning Plenary
< Chair Stefan Liener (European Community) gave a progress report on the informal consultations on the review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests. He said that despite having very little time, the group successfully agreed on everything save for the last paragraph on future steps. He noted that this point was linked to some open paragraphs in the text on the draft terms of reference of the ad hoc expert groups.
Listen to Liener's report

< Chair Øistad proposed that the three groups reconvene to complete their remaining work, suggesting that the contact group on the review criteria take up two paragraphs from the draft terms of reference for the ad hoc expert groups that pertained to the criteria. The EU expressed opposition to the allowing the contact group on review criteria to address issues in the expert groups' terms of reference. He stressed that the outstanding issues were not a matter of drafting, but a matter of political will, and that there were divergent views on the nature and mandate of the expert groups.
Listen to EU's expression of opposition

< The G-77/China agreed to work in the three groups in an effort to enable UNFF-2 to complete its work, but stressed that this did not establish a precedent for having more than two informal groups meeting concurrently.
< Patricia Chaves (Costa Rica) reported on progress in the informal consultations on the terms of reference of the ad hoc experts group. She said that differences remained on a few important issues, but was optimistic of the possibility of completing the work during the morning session. She noted participant's commitment and enthusiasm.
Listen to Chaves' report
Hossein Moeni Meybodi (Iran), Chair of Working Group I, reported that consensus was achieved on text relating to the medium-term plan and progress report of the CPF. He noted that a few brackets remained on the substantive elements and that the group had yet to consider the item of concepts, terminology, and definitions.
Listen to Moeni's report

< Plenary was suspended for a few moments to allow the EU to consult informally (left and below). Upon resumption, the EU presented a "package deal" in which the EU would be flexible on the nature and creation of the parameters expert group and the task of the monitoring, assessment and reporting (MAR) expert group on defining follow-up to consider and evaluate the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests and when it should complete this task, in exchange for flexibility on the nature and work methods of the MAR and finance expert groups. He said that if this package were not acceptable, the resources which the EU would have allocated for the expert groups could be used more effectively, such as to organize intersessional meetings or hire consultants to prepare reports.
Listen to EU's package deal

< Overhead view of the EU members discussing how to proceed.
Contact and Working Groups
< Working Group I met in the small room at the back of Conference Room I following the morning Plenary.
< John Talbot (Australia, center) chaired the informal informal consultations on the terms of reference of the ad hoc expert groups.
< Finding nowhere else to meet in the afternoon, Working Group I continued its work in the middle of Conference Room I.
Final Plenary
Chair Moeni reported on Working Group I's successful outcomes
Chair Leiner informed Plenary that the contact group on the criteria for review of effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests had agreed on a draft decision. He thanked all delegations for their collaborative and cooperative way of working which made the decision possible. The decision was adopted without discussion.
Vladimir Zelenov (right), Senior Officer and Deputy Secretary of ECOSOC, then explained that UNFF-2 would have to take a procedural decision on the outstanding issue of the expert groups: it could either decide to transmit the report of UNFF-2 to UNFF-3, with the draft terms of reference attached in its current bracketed state; or it could request ECOSOC at its next substantive session in July to take a decision on the text as the UNFF's parent body. After the text was bracketed in its entirety by the G-77/China,
< The US expressed disappointment with the lack of agreement, and appealed to delegates to accept a compromise formulation that would have allowed the MAR and finance/EST transfer groups to be established and proceed as planned by 2003. Stressing the need for UNFF-2 be a success, she said the failure to advance on the expert groups was a negative development for the UNFF. She announced that the US would hold an intersessional meeting on MAR in early 2003, prior to UNFF-3.
Listen to US' proposal
Jag Maini, Head of the UNFF Secretariat, proposed the following language for a draft decision on this issue: "The Forum regrets that it was not possible to reach a decision on the establishment of three ad hoc groups of experts. The Forum decides that the Bureau of UNFF-3 consider this matter and take action in consultation with countries and CPF member organizations to initiate activities, as appropriate, toward the work of the ad hoc groups of experts, and report accordingly to UNFF-3." Brazil said it did not understand the exact meaning of this proposal, and it was withdrawn. UNFF-2 decided, following a request by the G-77/CHINA, to bracket the entire report of the informal consultations on the terms of reference of the ad hoc expert groups and forward it to UNFF-3 for future consideration.
< UNFF-2 Chair Øistad convened the closing Plenary shortly before 5:00 PM, inviting Chair Chaves, who in turn invited John Talbot (Australia), to report on the issues outstanding from the informal informal consultations on the terms of reference of the ad hoc expert groups. He said that unresolved matters related to issues of composition and participation, specifically the number of days that certain participants can attend and whether they can remain as observers once these days as active participants have past.
Listen to Talbot's report
< Iran (left) said it was hesitant to postpone the decision to UNFF-3, as the MYPOW mandated that the expert groups be established between UNFF-2 and UNFF-3.
The G-77/China said that no agreement could be reached on the matter, and that UNFF-2 could not fulfill its mandate to create the expert groups. He stressed that this was not simply a procedural question, but also one of substance, noting that the MAR and finance/EST transfer expert groups were supposed to meet prior to, and provide input to, UNFF-3. The EU expressed regret that despite its offer of a package, it was not possible to establish the expert groups. He said UNFF-2 must therefore adopt a decision regretting that it was not possible to reach agreement on the terms of reference for the expert groups, and requesting the Bureau of UNFF-3 that there be a decision on how to create the groups.
In the closing moments of the meeting, several delegations; including Canada, South Africa (left), the US, Spain on behalf of the EU, and Venezuela for the G-77/China; expressed sincere gratitude to Maini for his years of dedication to international forest policy.
Listen to the expressions of thanks
< Even though their work was not completed and negotiations could have carried on into the night, delegates were warned by UN Conference Services that they would not be allowed to continue working past 6 PM. The final minutes of the meeting were without translation or amplification. Here we observe Ositadinma Anaedu of Nigeria who had to stand up and address plenary without the use of the microphone system.
< The final moments of UNFF-2 - a standing ovation for Maini.
In his farewell statement, Maini said the progress accomplished over the past six years could not have been achieved without the support and goodwill of all. He thanked his staff at the Secretariat, describing them as a "dedicated team of experts", and said that the friendships he has cultivated over the years are something he'll take with him into his retirement.
Listen to Maini's goodbye speech

Note that Maini is standing, and in the RealAudio recording you will hear that he is speaking loudly. This is explained by the fact that the microphones were turned off, as per the instructions of the UN.

Miscellaneous photos
< Mahindra Joshi, UNFF Secretariat (center), explaining procedure to Maini and Chair Øistad.
< Catalina Santamaria, UNFF Secretariat, with members of the Colombian delegation moments after the close of UNFF-2.
< Jan Macalpine, US delegation, explaining her position to Kira Schmidt, Team Leader of the ENB's UNFF-2 team.
< Maini and Øistad.


> UNFF-2 website with documents for the meeting (including provisional agenda).
> UNFF Secretariat newsletter.

> ENB's coverage of UNFF-1 (11-23 June 2001).
> Linkages Forestry page.

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