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As a result of the increasing incidence and impact of major fires globally, the 3rd International Wildland Fire Conference and the International Wildland Fire Summit (Sydney, Australia, 2003) highlighted the need to improve international cooperation in fire management. This view was further reinforced at the FAO-hosted Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Forest Management and the FAO Commission on Forestry (Rome, Italy, 2005), which called upon FAO – together with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) and collaborating partners – to prepare a strategy to enhance international cooperation in fire management.

A follow-up Expert Consultation on Wildland Fire Management (Madrid, Spain, 2006) recommended that the foundation of the strategy should include: a global assessment of fire management; a review of international cooperation; voluntary guidelines for fire management; and an implementation partnership (to be established in 2007). The present working paper is the initial review of international cooperation.

Although FAO coordinated the preparation of the review – in order to complement Fire management: global assessment 2006 and the voluntary guidelines – the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) was the author.

In order to enhance international cooperation in fire management, multistakeholder and multifaceted approaches are necessary to: (i) adopt a common language and common principles in fire management; (ii) better understand the underlying causes and environmental and human impacts of fires; (iii) increase collaboration between fire-related actors to render their specialist activities more effective and more widely used by fire managers; (iv) integrate the policies, plans, implementation and monitoring of diverse sectors; (v) develop international policies and fire management support systems; (vi) translate international agreements, conventions, declarations, processes and voluntary agreements into regional, national and local policies and actions; and (vii) create a framework and mechanisms for international donor support to fire management stakeholders in need.

The review highlights priority themes for international cooperation, current actors, their specialist activities and the potential for future synergies and cooperation. However, it is recognized that this is only a starting point. New actors are encouraged to add their specialist activities and to commit to international collaboration in the future. Consequently, the review of international cooperation will be reprinted as a working paper from time to time to reflect expansion through new actors and specialist activities.

The Eighteenth Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (Rome, Italy, March 2007) and the 4th International Wildland Fire Conference (Seville, Spain, May 2007) provide ideal opportunities for FAO, the UN-ISDR Global Wildland Fire Network and their collaborators to outline the current status of international cooperation in fire management and to highlight the potential for even better cooperation in the future.

FAO encourages its Member Countries and organizations involved in the various aspects of fire management to come forward to strengthen this initial review and to commit to enhancing international cooperation in fire management.

Peter Holmgren
Chief, Forest Resources Development Service

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