Joke Waller-Hunter, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), passed away on 14 October 2005 in Bonn, Germany. She was 58 years old.
A Dutch national, Joke was named in 1993 as the first Director of the United Nations Division on Sustainable Development, which provides the secretariat to the Commission on Sustainable Development. While there she played a key role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF). In 1998 she went on to head the Environment Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Joke assumed leadership of UNFCCC in May 2002, devoting all her international experience, energy and talent to promoting the implementation of the convention, working towards the entry into force and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, and strengthening the UNFCCC secretariat.
Just one month before she passed away, Joke was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which cited her contribution to society through her outstanding work in the field of sustainable development and protection of the global climate.
A ceremony to honour her life and work was held in Bonn on 25 October 2005.
Cross-sectoral cooperation is increasingly considered a key challenge for the forest sector. In 2003, ministers at the fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) resolved to use cross-sectoral cooperation to strengthen synergies for sustainable forest management in Europe. In line with this commitment, the MCPFE Liaison Unit held the workshop “Forests – Common Benefits, Shared Responsibilities, Multiple Policies” in Riga, Latvia, from 17 to 19 October 2005. The workshop was organized in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)/FAO Timber Branch and the Governments of Switzerland and Latvia. To stimulate cross-sectoral approaches to complex issues at the policy-formulation level, the organizers invited not only decision-makers and experts from the forest sector, but also specialists from other fields including energy, agriculture and rural development, nature conservation, water management, finance, trade and globalization.
The workshop reviewed the major political developments outside and within the forest sector that have made cross-sectoral networks necessary. It examined how policies and strategies developed in other sectors influence the forest sector and vice versa, with presentations on interactions with energy, water management and rural development. Participants discussed methods of coordination, cooperation and integration and opportunities for cross-sectoral networking, taking as a springboard some examples of existing networks, processes and partnerships.
The workshop focused on raising awareness and building capacity for actions that could be undertaken at the regional, national and subnational levels. In particular, the event provided a communication platform to move towards a common language with those who do not deal with forestry on a daily basis, but whose decisions can have direct or indirect impacts on forests.
To make the world a better place, the leaders of the world need to educate and involve people in reforestation and ensure the sustainable management and protection of forests. This was one of the appeals made by young people from around the world gathered for the first Children’s World Summit for the Environment in Aichi, Japan from 26 to 29 July 2005. The Summit, held in conjunction with Expo 2005, was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a Japanese organizing committee. Six hundred delegates aged 10 to 14 from 65 nations participated in workshops, presentations and field trips aimed to increase their understanding of environmental issues. The children were selected from over 2 000 applicants on the basis of environmental projects carried out through schools and organizations.
The children themselves led and shaped the event, with 11 junior board members choosing the summit’s theme of “Creating Practical Change”. Focusing on energy, recycling, water, forests and biodiversity, the summit provided a rare opportunity for young people to collectively voice their concerns for the environment. It encouraged them to initiate and implement community environmental projects and gave them a chance to surmount ethnic barriers and forge international friendships for future collaboration.
In addition to commitments to save energy, conserve water and recycle waste, the young delegates committed themselves to “planting 10 trees every month and boycotting all endangered animal products”. Delegates drafted and signed a petition to world leaders (see Box) for delivery to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and prepared a 14-m long canvas with an environmental message for display at the World Summit in New York in September.
“Children have honest eyes that see through the essence of things,” said Fumio Kawaguchi, the head of the Japan Organizing Committee, “and the power to consider the future of this planet with a pure heart”.
The mascots of Expo 2005 (themed “Nature’s Wisdom”) – Morizo, the Forest Grandfather, representing the of wisdom of old age and experience, and Kiccoro, the Forest Child, representing the clearer, simpler wisdom of childhood – at the Children’s Summit for the Environment
We, the children of the 2005 World Summit for the Environment in Aichi, Japan, challenge the world leaders and people all over the world to protect and preserve our environment for the next generation. We want you leaders, children and adults from all over the world to respect and recognize that the environment is our most important asset.
We must develop better ways to conserve energy, as various sources are diminishing and we must turn to renewable energy. Energy is essential for many things in our daily life, for example, lighting, cooking and technology.
The earth used to be abundant with many diverse forms of life, but this will not hold true for long, as right now, deforestation and other causes are resulting in over 150 species to become extinct every day, so we must protect the biodiversity of our earth.
Water is our most precious resource, and without it, there’s no life. If we keep wasting and polluting it, our lifestyle will be changed drastically until we will no longer be able to survive.
The earth’s resources are simply unable to deal with our current consumption rate. Recycling is imperative, as many materials that could be reused are being dumped in landfills. It reduces waste, so we can benefit from the resources again.
Therefore, we request leaders throughout the world to take the following actions to change our world into a better place:
We believe you should lead by example and, as such, we petition leaders to implement and enforce these measures.
With the observance of the International Year of Deserts and Desertification in 2006, the international forestry community will be turning its attention to the role of forests and trees in combating desertification and in contributing to sustainable development in arid lands. These issues figured to some extent in the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 17 to 28 October 2005.
COP-7 invited affected country parties to continue to include important elements for combating desertification in their national development strategies. It specified forest, pasture and dryland management among these elements, along with sustainable agriculture, sustainable use and management of rangelands, and desertification monitoring and assessment.
The conference encouraged parties and relevant institutions to explore opportunities for promoting sustainable forest management, including forest conservation and sustainable use of forests, as an effective means of jointly addressing the objectives of UNCCD and those of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It requested the Executive Secretary of UNCCD to pursue closer collaboration with other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) and other interested organizations with a view to fostering joint initiatives related to sustainable forest management.
COP-7 also reaffirmed the decision of COP-6 on working to strengthen the capacity of low forest cover countries (LFCCs) to combat desertification, land degradation and deforestation.
A special segment held on 24 and 25 October 2005 explored the theme “Economic opportunities in the drylands under UNCCD”. It addressed a number of forest-related issues. Agroforestry and agrosilviculture were seen as means to encourage synergy rather than competition among land-use practices, for improved land productivity. Alternatives to land productivity were also considered, such as solar energy, aquaculture, tourism, afforestation, bioprospecting and extractive industries. It was noted that afforestation offers potential economic opportunities through fuelwood production, non-wood forest products and carbon sequestration, as well as advantages related to soil conservation, water storage, biodiversity, local climate improvement and restoration of dryland productivity. Bioprospecting holds promise for obtaining economic benefits from dryland biodiversity, since at least 30 percent of the world’s globally important cultivated plants, including food crops, originated in drylands and many dryland species are sources of valuable medicines, cosmetic products and spices. In terms of mechanisms for realizing economic opportunities in the rural drylands, UNCCD could explore synergies with CBD and with UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The role of the private sector in realizing opportunities was also considered.
Illegal logging, associated illegal trade and corruption undermine many countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable development. Illegal logging depletes forests, destroys the habitats of endangered species and contributes to global climate change by depleting carbon sinks. The economic, environmental and social costs are great.
Illegal logging, driven sometimes by poverty and sometimes by commercial greed, is a significant problem for many countries in Europe and North Asia, where forests are a source of livelihood for some 170 million people and timber revenues account for about 20 percent of world timber trade. The problem is often abetted by ineffective forest policies and legislation and inability to monitor and enforce forest resource use regulations.
At a Ministerial Conference on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in Europe and North Asia, held in St Petersburg, Russian Federation, from 22 to 25 November 2005, 43 governments made a commitment to take action to address these
The conference, initiated by the Russian Federation, formed part of a broader process to promote forest law enforcement and governance in the region that is facilitated by the World Bank with support from government agencies. The conference was attended by nearly 300 participants representing governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society.
Delegates affirmed their political commitment by endorsing the St Petersburg Declaration on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in Europe and North Asia, which charts a course for action at the national and international levels. The declaration recognizes that it is not enough only to implement existing forest laws, invoking the possible need for reform of forest-sector legislation and policies to ensure that forests are managed in a sustainable manner, responsible legal forest industry is encouraged, and the rural poor are not criminalized for using forest resources. Improved forest governance should lead to improved livelihoods for forest-dependent communities, a more reliable investment climate for forest industries and broader civil-society engagement in forest management.
A second ministerial meeting will take place in five years to examine governments’ progress towards meeting the goals of the Ministerial Declaration.
China is now a leading consumer, producer and exporter of wood products globally. Shanghai, China was therefore a fitting venue for the recent forum of the Association technique internationale des bois tropicaux (ATIBT) on the theme “Discovering the Current and Future Asian Market for Wood Products”. Held from 19 to 23 September 2005, the ATIBT Forum offered a valuable opportunity to get to know the market for wood products in China and other Asian countries. It focused on:
Two hundred professionals from 30 countries enjoyed two days of discussions and three days of site visits to major industries including producers of veneer, plywood and parquet. Participants also visited the commercial port of Zhang Jia Gang, the largest in China in terms of tropical wood products. Technical presentations addressed methods of sustainable production, global flows and consumption of tropical and non-tropical timber, the use of plantations as carbon sinks and forest certification.
Complementing the forum, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)/FAO Tropical Plywood Conference followed in Beijing from 26 to 28 September. Like the ATIBT Forum, this opportunity to explore the state of tropical plywood production and trade had a special focus on the emerging role of China. Additional presentations and panel discussions addressed global issues such as trade barriers, technology developments, the wood raw material outlook and the challenging corporate responsibilities associated with plywood manufacturing. The more than 200 participants included managers of tropical plywood mills from Asia, China, Africa and Latin America and traders in plywood from all over the world. Participants visited a plywood wholesale plywood market in Beijing and plywood mills in Hangzhou.