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Ninth Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC: the “forest COP”

The ninth Conference of the Parties (COP-9) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Milan, Italy, from 1 to 12 December 2003. Attended by more than 5 000 participants, the conference brought together representatives from national governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector and sought to conclude negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force.

A high-level segment included three informal ministerial round tables focusing on adaptation, mitigation, sustainable development, technology and assessment. Ministers agreed that climate change remains the most important global challenge to humanity and that its adverse effects are already a reality in all parts of the world.

COP-9 adopted decisions on so many important forest-related issues that some journalists dubbed it the “forest COP”.

A major advance was agreement on the modalities and procedures for including afforestation and reforestation projects under the Clean Development Mechanism. A thorny issue has been how to address non-permanence of sink credits. The COP decision defines two types of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs): temporary CERs, which are valid until the end of the commitment period subsequent to the period in which they were issued; and long-term CERs, which are valid until the end of the project's crediting period. Sink projects can have a crediting period of either 20 years, with the possibility of two renewals up to 60 years total, or 30 years with no renewals. CERs cannot be banked for later commitment periods. They must be replaced by another credit prior to their expiration.

COP-9 also addressed the issues of additionality, leakage (increase of all greenhouse gases outside the project boundary, measurable and attributable to the project) and socio-economic and environmental impacts. One of the most controversial issues was whether genetically modified trees and potentially invasive alien tree species should be excluded from sink projects. The final decision requires that projects involving such trees be evaluated in accordance with national laws of the host and investor countries, and that information on the species used be identified in the project design document. Socio-economic and environmental impacts in and outside the project boundary must be analysed and, if considered “significant”, must be formally assessed according to national procedures.

The agreement also defines a new category of small-scale land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) projects, which are eligible for simplified modalities and facilitation. These projects are defined as those that result in net anthropogenic greenhouse gas removals of less than 8 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and are developed or implemented by low-income communities or individuals, as determined by the host country. Modalities for small-scale LULUCF projects are to be decided by COP-10.

The tenth session of the Conference of the Parties will be held from 29 November to 10 December 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Targets set at COP-7 of the CBD

The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place from 9 to 20 February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Over 2 300 participants attended. COP-7 was one of the most ambitious COPs ever, with three new work programmes to consider, the multiyear programme of work to adopt, many cross-cutting issues and over 300 pages of draft decisions to scrutinize.

Delegates adopted 33 decisions on, inter alia, biodiversity and tourism; monitoring and indicators; the ecosystem approach; biodiversity and climate change; sustainable use; invasive alien species; mountain biodiversity; protected areas; access and benefit-sharing; technology transfer and cooperation; traditional knowledge; incentive measures; scientific and technical cooperation and the clearing-house mechanism; financial resources and mechanisms; and national reporting. The conference repeatedly emphasized the need for capacity building; the participation of all stakeholders, including women, youth and indigenous and local communities; and the adoption of outcome-oriented targets.

As regards forest biodiversity, COP-7 stressed the importance of international collaboration, especially through the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), and underlined linkages between the different thematic work programmes. It recommended the incorporation of relevant indicators of forest biodiversity. It encouraged regional cooperation and invited enhancement of cross-sectoral integration and collaboration. The COP also requested continued collaboration with other members of the CPF on harmonizing and streamlining national reporting.

New work programmes were adopted on mountain biodiversity, protected areas and technology transfer. COP-7 agreed to establish an ad hoc open-ended working group on protected areas to assess progress in the implementation of the work programme until 2010.

Delegates also supported establishing an ad hoc technical expert group to address gaps in the international regulatory framework for invasive alien species. The meeting highlighted the need for capacity building regarding border control and emergency response, the importance of regional measures and the potential of positive incentive measures.

In line with the recommendation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) that a benefit-sharing regime be negotiated under CBD, COP-7 adopted a decision and terms of reference for an Access and Benefit Sharing Working Group. Countries also agreed to begin separate talks to draw up global rules for scientists and corporations seeking access to the biological resources of the developing world. A working group was established which will help to find ways of rewarding developing countries and indigenous communities for their resources. Agreement could not be reached, however, on whether the rules should be legally binding.

The COP agreed to a set of implementation guidelines on the ecosystem approach, noting that these need to be considered as voluntary instruments, adapted to local conditions and implemented in accordance with national legislation. It was noted that sustainable forest management, as well as specific management approaches for other ecosystems (e.g. river basins and marine and coastal areas), may support implementation of the ecosystem approach. COP-7 outlined proposals for integrating the ecosystem approach with sustainable forest management. (See Unasylva 214/215, p. 6-7 for an in-depth discussion of the ecosystem approach and sustainable forest management.)

As part of an overall commitment made by world leaders at WSSD to “significantly reduce” the rate of biodiversity loss before 2010, participating countries agreed to conserve at least one-tenth of the area of each of the world's many ecosystem types. They also agreed to bolster efforts to stabilize populations of many species that are now in decline and made a commitment to ensure that global trade does not endanger any species of wild plants or animals. Delegates agreed to find ways of expanding the world's protected areas in the hope that such moves will help to achieve the 2010 target.

The eighth Conference of the Parties of CBD will be held in Brazil in 2006.

Kuala Lumpur Ministerial Declaration

A Ministerial Segment convened at COP-7 of CBD adopted the Kuala Lumpur Ministerial Declaration. The declaration, inter alia:

• urges governments to ratify CBD and the Biosafety Protocol;

• reaffirms the significant role of indigenous and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources;

• commits ministers to the development of an international regime on access and benefit-sharing;

• commits governments to integrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into socio-economic development;

• urges governments to establish protected area networks and develop indicators and incentives to meet the 2010 target;

• urges governments to identify and remove barriers to the exchange of key technologies for the implementation of CBD.

Awards for fighting poverty and conserving the environment: Equator Prize winners announced

Seven tropical communities from around the world were awarded the 2004 Equator Prize at an awards ceremony held on 19 February 2004 at CBD COP-7 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Drawn from a pool of over 340 total nominations and 26 finalists, the winners exemplify outstanding achievement in reducing poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Five of the seven carry out activities related to forest and wildlife conservation.

In Colombia's Proyecto Nasa, a community of indigenous Paez people has sustainably managed 49 000 ha adjoining the border with Ecuador, partly in the Nevada del Huila Biosphere Reserve, since 1980. Despite the civil strife and violence in the region, the project has launched a variety of programmes to benefit the community and the environment, including environmental education and the promotion of traditional medicines and agroforestry. The project's activities are funded creatively through the sale of environmentally friendly products such as juices and handicrafts.

The Mexican indigenous community of San Juan Parangaricutiro collectively owns 11 000 ha of forest in the state of Michoacán. For over 20 years, the community has maintained a range of successful enterprises based on sustainable forestry, the production of environmentally friendly timber products (including furniture and resins), ecotourism, agroforestry and wildlife management. The community's novel conservation and business practices have been widely adopted by other indigenous communities in Mexico. (See Unasylva 213, 2003, for an article about the environmental perceptions of secondary schoolchildren in San Juan Parangaricutiro.)

Since 1998, the Rufiji Environment Management Project in the United Republic of Tanzania has made significant headway in its goal of promoting long-term conservation and secure livelihoods in villages near the Selous Game Reserve, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, through wise use of the lower Rufiji forests, woodlands and wetlands. The project has taken important steps in developing an environmental management plan at district and village levels and has furthered efforts to raise awareness and train communities in sustainable fisheries, beekeeping and tree propagation and planting.

The Torra Conservancy, a community-based programme formed in 1996, has established sustainable hunting and ecotourism activities on 352 000 ha in the Kunene region of northwest Namibia. These activities have earned significant profits for the entire community. The Conservancy founded Damaraland Camp, a luxury tented lodge that has received accolades as an outstanding ecotourism destination. Fully managed and staffed by local residents, the camp has injected US$250 000 into the local economy. Community members serving on the conservancy's Management Committee monitor wildlife and human activities and ensure that policies for land and wildlife management are based on accurate local information.

The Brazilian non-governmental organization Sociedade Civil Mamirauá was recognized for pioneering the creation of two sustainable development reserves within the Central Amazon Conservation Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through its management of these reserves, in collaboration with communities, scientists and government, the group has achieved tangible outcomes in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.

Also granted the award were the Genetic Resource, Energy, Ecology and Nutrition (GREEN) Foundation, India; and the Bunaken National Park Management Advisory Board (BNPMAB) and Bunaken Concerned Citizen's Forum (FMPTNB), Indonesia, which co-manage a globally significant marine protected area.

The Equator Initiative, launched in 2002, focuses on tropical regions and confers biannually seven cash awards of US$30 000. Partners in the initiative are the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), BrasilConnects, the Government of Canada, Conservation International, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Development Research Centre, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Nature Conservancy, Television Trust for the Environment and the United Nations Foundation.

For more information on the Equator Initiative and Equator Prize, see

Facilitating the transfer and implementation of environmentally sound technologies

Monitoring of forest cover, knowledge about the forest and its biology and conservation and sustainable use of forest resources depend on the use of appropriate, sound technologies. All countries need to have not only access to such technologies, but also the capacity to apply them.

With these needs in mind, the Government of the Congo hosted the Global Workshop on the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies and Capacity Building for Sustainable Forest Management, a country-led initiative in support of the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Representatives from 49 countries and numerous international organizations met in Brazzaville from 23 to 27 February 2004.

The governments of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Italy, Norway, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States co-sponsored the workshop, with technical support from FAO, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Cooperation Centre of Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).

Building on the work of the UNFF Ad Hoc Expert Group on Finance and Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies, which met in December 2003, the workshop sought to identify means of resolving problems in the transfer of ecologically sustainable, economically viable and socially acceptable forest-related technologies. The workshop made the following recommendations.

At the international level, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) should enhance technical and financial assistance for technology transfer and capacity building to all stakeholders, and evaluate existing capacities and needs. They should work to increase awareness among international stakeholders of the benefits of technology transfer as regards poverty alleviation, food security, health, biological diversity and conservation of natural resources. They should encourage technology transfer targeted specifically to developing countries. They should help strengthen forestry training and education institutions and systems, and assist regional research and information networks to facilitate cooperation and sharing of expertise. They should explore existing and new sources of funding for technology transfer such as payment for environmental services schemes (e.g. the Clean Development Mechanism), specific investment funds or debt swaps.

Institutions involved in trade and finance should be encouraged to adopt investment criteria that promote technology transfer. Development assistance should support long-term programmes, rather than short-term projects, for the development, transfer and adoption of environmentally sound technologies.

At the national level, governments should facilitate market access for private-sector technology transfer, by designing and implementing incentives for adoption of environmentally sound technologies and removing disincentives that act as barriers. They should promote open access and exchange of information, and integrate environmentally sound technologies into relevant national policies (such as national forest programmes or equivalent programmes). They should invest in national forestry research and development systems and develop intellectual property right regimes that promote technology transfer, including those related to traditional knowledge. They should enact regulations that promote adoption of environmentally sound technologies in forest management and industrial processing. They should adopt sound legal frameworks and means for their enforcement, flexible enough to embrace new knowledge from research or other sources of innovation.

The socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts of new and traditional technologies should be assessed in a participatory manner, and the use of voluntary instruments such as standards, certification, labelling and codes of conduct should be promoted to facilitate the use of environmentally sound technologies.

Options for financing technology transfer at the national level include retention of a proportion of forest rents, national forest development funds, fiscal instruments, targeted microcredit schemes, national trust funds, public/private partnerships and payment for environmental services schemes.

The recommendations will be considered by UNFF at its fourth session in May 2004.

The final report of this workshop is available at

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