COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY
Rome, Italy, 15-19 March 2005
PREPORT OF THE HIGH-LEVEL PANEL OF EXTERNAL EXPERTS ON FORESTRY TO THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF
1. The High-Level Panel of External Experts on Forestry met for the fourth time from 10 to 11 January 2005 at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.
2. At the invitation of FAO, the meeting focused on two central issues: FAO’s assistance to countries’ efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through forest-based actions, and FAO’s support to the international dialogue on forests and global efforts to enhance sustainable forest management.
3. The following experts, participating in their personal capacities, attended the meeting: Mr. Masahiro Amano (Japan), Mr. David Bills (United Kingdom), Mr. David Kaimowitz (United States), Mr. Shirong Liu (P.R. China), Ms. Linda Mossop-Rousseau (South Africa) and Mr. Ivan Tomaselli (Brazil). Mr. Kaimowitz was elected Chairperson of the Panel. Ms. Susan Braatz, Senior Forestry Officer, FAO Forestry Department, served as Rapporteur.
4. On behalf of Mr Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, Mr David Harcharik, Deputy Director-General of FAO, addressed the Panel, thanking the members for having accepted the invitation to provide their independent advice to FAO on certain areas of work in its forestry programme for the next few years. He noted the importance and timeliness of the panel members’ discussions, both in light of FAO’s review, now under way, of its activities regarding support to the achievement of the MDGs, and the critical point in the international dialogue on forests under the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF).
5. Mr. M. Hosny El-Lakany, Assistant Director-General, FAO Forestry Department, welcomed the panel members. He provided an overview of FAO’s forestry programme; summarized the activities of FAO with regard to the recommendations of the third meeting of the High-Level Panel of External Experts on Forestry, held in February 2003; and introduced the work of FAO related to the issues on the agenda of the Panel’s fourth meeting.
6. The Forestry Department’s Division Directors made short presentations on the activities of their respective divisions in relation to the MDGs, Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action, and the inter-governmental forest dialogue.
7. The Panel took note of the report on the follow-up to the recommendations of the third meeting of the High-Level Panel of External Experts on Forestry and felt that FAO had, to a great extent, addressed the recommendations.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF FORESTS TO THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
8. The Panel considered the contributions of forests and trees outside forests to the achievement of the MDGs – the eight goals for sustainable development that emerged from the United Nations Millennium Summit held in 2000.
Millenium Development Goals
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.
9. The Panel recognized the following points with regard to the role of forests in achieving the MDGs:
i. Sustainable forest management and sustainable development are closely linked.
ii. Sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests contributes to proper economic, social and environmental functioning of landscapes.
iii. Forests can contribute directly to reducing extreme poverty and hunger (goal 1) and environmental sustainability (goal 7) and can indirectly contribute to the other goals by supporting economic and social development and environmental sustainability generally.
iv. Poor people may be compelled to convert forests to agriculture or harvest forest products unsustainably in order to gain short-term economic returns because they have few other options. This link between goals 1 and 7 implies that reducing poverty may be necessary for achieving environmental sustainability.
v. Forests contribute to environmental sustainability by providing a range of environmental services and by furnishing renewable wood and non-wood products, many substitutes for which are not renewable or as environmentally friendly.
vi. The relevance and magnitude of the contribution of forests to poverty reduction and the way forests and poverty are linked vary markedly in different contexts, and it is important to understand these differences.
vii. Sustainable forest management strategies that benefit all people, and especially the poor and other vulnerable groups, should be pursued. This will often require that forests’ productivity and economic use be increased.
viii. Forest products and environmental services can contribute directly to reducing poverty and hunger by providing cash income, jobs, and consumption goods for poor families, and can contribute indirectly by generating tax revenues and stimulating overall economic growth. Poor people’s agricultural activities also benefit from the role of forests in regulating climate and hydrological regimes, preventing soil erosion, providing soil nutrients, improving soil structure, producing fodder for livestock, and providing genetic resources, among other environmental services.
ix. Forests and trees outside forests play a major role in helping hundreds of millions of extremely poor rural people survive by providing consumption goods, food and income when other sources are not available and by supplying resources to fall back on in times of social or household crises (war, drought, economic downturn, etc.) Wild meat, forest fruits and other edible forest products, and trees outside forests provide major sources of protein, vitamins, other nutrients, and medicines to tens of millions of extremely poor people, and are key elements in the safety net function of forests.
x. Forests can also provide a means for households to earn sufficient cash income to rise out of poverty, but this applies to a much more limited number of people (probably millions or tens or millions, rather than hundreds of millions).
xi. Extreme poverty is largely concentrated in mountainous, arid, and forested regions of the world. Approximately 240 million of the world’s poor people live in forested areas of developing countries. Many of the forests where most of these people live are of limited commercial value and a significant portion has been degraded. Nevertheless, these forests and woodlands provide an important underpinning to human welfare, and action is needed to protect and rehabilitate these resources.
xii. Violent conflict linked to weak governance in remote forested regions frequently leads to greater poverty and human suffering. Taking steps to improve governance in forested regions in order to reduce conflicts can greatly contribute to achieving the MDGs.
xiii. The industrial forest sector plays an important economic role globally, accounting for roughly 3% of global trade and 1% of global direct capital investments. However, some policies in developed countries have made it more difficult for developing countries to develop and sustainably manage their industrial forest sector, thus limiting these countries’ international competitiveness in the industry and their opportunities to reduce poverty through forestry.
xiv. Institutional, financial, and educational support may be required to help the poor benefit from forest-based employment and income-generating activities, including support that pays particular attention to gender.
xv. If forests are to contribute fully to the MDGs, it is important to encourage forest tenure arrangements and efficient industry structures and investments that favour greater local benefits and help these benefits reach the poor, and to capture emerging forest-related opportunities.
FAO’S ROLE IN ASSISTING COUNTRIES’ EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
10. FAO has traditionally carried out many activities that have contributed to the MDGs. FAO’s experience and achievements means it is in a unique position to work with member countries to assist them to deliver on the MDGs, both directly and indirectly. The Panel recognized that FAO has sectoral mandates in food, nutrition, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, and these clearly underpin the achievement of the MDGs. With regards to FAO’s role related to achieving the MDGs, the Panel concluded and recommended the following:
i. FAO faces competing demands for the allocation of its resources. The Panel recommended that FAO give priority to addressing the MDGs.
ii. FAO’s Medium Term Plans (MTPs) and Programmes of Work and Budget (PWB) should be as explicit as possible in describing the potential contributions of the planned activities to achieving the MDGs, including at regional or sub-regional level.
iii. FAO should help countries that wish to use forests to mitigate poverty to develop their resources and to create mechanisms so that poor people can capture the benefits of forests.
iv. FAO should assist countries to carry out analyses of the forest-poverty links in their national context, to increase the visibility of the forest sector in their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and other sustainable development plans, and to reflect poverty reduction and food security adequately in their national forest programmes (NFPs).
v. FAO’s global Forest Resources Assessment and its State of the World’s Forests provide essential tools for monitoring forest cover and other aspects of forests for goal 7 on environmental sustainability. FAO should continue to assist in those efforts to monitor progress in the achievement of the MDGs.
vi. Globalization in the forest sector can have both positive and negative impacts on forestry. FAO has an important role in monitoring these impacts and advising governments on how to address them.
vii. Some MDGs require regional and cross-border approaches. FAO should continue to provide important fora, information, and data at the regional and sub-regional levels to strengthen the ability of countries to address these problems.
viii. FAO should adopt a multi-sectoral approach to achieving the MDGs, drawing on its capacity to address agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in a comprehensive and integrated fashion. The Mountain Programme, which is housed within the Forestry Department and promotes sustainable development in mountain areas where a large portion of the poorest forest-dependent people live, provides a good example of how a multi-sectoral approach can be applied to the MDGs.
ix. There is insufficient awareness of the role of forests in contributing to the achievement of the MDGs. FAO, through technical and high-level meetings, publications, web-based outreach and mass media, should make this information more widely known. This could also help improve the visibility of forests on the international policy agenda.
x. FAO should continue to work to enhance participatory approaches, such as community forestry, in order to reduce poverty and hunger and achieve other MDGs.
xi. FAO should enhance its forestry efforts linked to social development, including activities that directly support the MDG goals on education and gender.
xii. The Panel considered that the contributions of trees outside forests, including in agroforestry systems, to the reduction of poverty and hunger, environmental sustainability and other MDGs have been less thoroughly analyzed than those of forests, but are significant in many countries. It recommended that FAO increase awareness of the importance of these resources to achieving the MDGs and help countries consider their contribution in sustainable development plans.
xiii. The FAO Forestry Department should consider giving greater attention to the links between forests and human health, including but not limited to issues related to malaria and HIV / AIDs. At the same time, the Panel recognized that other agencies have primary responsibility for health issues, so any FAO efforts in this regard should be carried out in close collaboration with them.
xiv. FAO could potentially play a useful role in highlighting the problem of violent conflict associated with weak governance in forested regions and in helping member countries to improve forest governance in post-conflict situations.
xv. FAO should assist countries to strengthen intersectoral cooperation and coordination and develop mechanisms for more integrated planning so as to facilitate consistent approaches to addressing the MDGs.
xvi. FAO should be commended for its efforts to decentralize its forestry activities and bring them closer to the national and field levels, which the Panel believes enhances its ability to help countries achieve the MDGs.
xvii. In promoting the achievement of the MDGs, the FAO should continue its work to encourage corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the private forestry sector and to explore various other ways for actively engaging the private sector.
xviii. The Panel commended FAO for strengthening its Regional Forestry Commissions. It recommended that FAO encourage these commissions to focus more explicitly on issues related to the achievement of the MDGs.
xix. FAO’s Committee on Forestry (COFO) and Ministerial meetings have provided extremely useful mechanisms for countries to debate forestry issues. The Seventeenth Session of COFO and the associated Ministerial Meeting on Forests to be held in March 2005 provide significant opportunities to discuss how FAO’s forestry activities can contribute to achieving the MDGs and to raise the profile of the links between forests and the MDGs.
FAO’S CONTRIBUTION TO GLOBAL EFFORTS
TO ENHANCE SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT
11. The international dialogue on forests and other global efforts can play vital roles both in increasing awareness and understanding of how forests can help to achieve important policy goals and in supporting the implementation of concrete actions to address these goals. FAO has a central part to play in this.
12. The role of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) in the international arrangement on forests has reached a critical point. The Panel believes that, in the future, the successor of the UNFF should focus on activities that increase the profile and understanding of forest-related issues. FAO and other CPF member organizations should take the central role in supporting member countries’ efforts to implement the agreed actions. FAO should continue in its key role of leading the CPF. Looking beyond UNFF 5 in May 2005, two key issues will be to ensure adequate funding and effective collaboration for the implementation of agreed actions.
13. In relation to these issues, the Panel concluded and recommended the following:
i. Forests can significantly contribute to achieving many of the key policy objectives that currently concern policymakers. However, their potential contribution is often not fully recognized. There is a need to increase awareness and understanding of the potential contribution of forests to the MDGs (including human health and the provision of clean water) and to good governance, conflict prevention and resolution, and reduced vulnerability to natural disasters.
ii. As one important means to raise the international profile and understanding of forest-related issues, the Panel recommended that FAO, other CPF members, and FAO member countries consider promoting the idea of having the United Nations General Assembly declare an International Year of Forests, possibly in 2009 to coincide with the next World Forestry Congress.
iii. The international dialogue on forest policy can play a key positive role in raising the visibility and realizing the potential contribution of forests to sustainable development. It is important that international forest policy dialogue be continued in a forum that addresses the full range of the forest-related benefits to sustainable development and recognizes the need to balance the production and conservation functions of forests.
iv. CPF has proven to be an effective mechanism for encouraging collaboration between the international agencies concerned with forests. FAO should increase the resources devoted to supporting its contribution to CPF activities.
v. In efforts to move from text to action, the Panel believed that the implementation of forestry activities should continue to be supported by the agencies that currently participate in the CPF, led by FAO, and that the CPF members should reaffirm and strengthen their commitment to working together through the CPF.
vi. FAO should continue to encourage and support regional forestry partnerships, involving governments, NGOs, forestry industries, and others.
vii. FAO should continue to produce the global Forest Resources Assessment as a key data set and to provide such information to the various inter-governmental organizations, conventions, and processes.
viii. FAO should continue to collaborate with the secretariats and technical bodies of the Conventions on Biological Diversity (CBD), Climate Change (UNFCCC), International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and Desertification (CCD)1. The panel notes with satisfaction that FAO currently has a large number of joint activities with these bodies.
ix. Trade issues are central to international discussions about forests and greatly affect the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of forestry. FAO should give additional attention to providing information and advice to member countries to facilitate their participation in international trade negotiations related to forests, particularly those linked to the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda. Three key issues include government procurement practices, market access for non-agricultural products, and trade and environment.
HIGH-LEVEL PANEL OF EXTERNAL EXPERTS ON FORESTRY
Rome, Italy, 10-11 January 2005
1. Opening of the meeting: welcome by the Deputy Director-General of FAO
2. Introduction by the Assistant Director-General, Forestry Department
3. Discussion of the contribution of the forest sector to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
4. Consideration of FAO’s role, through the Forestry Department’s work programme and interdepartmental activities, in assisting countries’ efforts in sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
5. Perspectives regarding FAO’s contribution to global efforts to enhance sustainable forest management
6. Closure of the session
HIGH-LEVEL PANEL OF EXTERNAL EXPERTS ON FORESTRY
Rome, 10-11 January 2005
LIST OF DOCUMENTS
FAO’s role in Supporting Global Efforts in Sustainable Forest Management and the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
List of documents
High-Level Panel of External Experts on Forestry Third Meeting: Report to the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Follow-up to the Recommendations of the Third Meeting of the High-Level Panel of External Experts on Forestry
HIGH-LEVEL PANEL OF EXTERNAL EXPERTS ON FORESTRY
Rome, 10-11 January 2005
LIST OF MEMBERS
Mr. Masahiro Amano
Professor, Waseda University
Mikajma 2-579-15, Tokorozawa
tel: + 81 42 9476740
fax: + 81 42 9484314
Mr. Shirong Liu
Vice-President, Chinese Academy of Forestry
tel: + 86 10-62889311 / 86-10-62889558
fax:+ 86 10-62884229
Mr. David Bills
32 St Ninians Rd.
Mr. David Kaimowitz
Center for International Forestry Research
P.O. Box 6596 JKPWB
tel: + 62 251-622622
fax: + 62 251-622100
Mr. Ivan Tomaselli
STCP Engenharia de Projetos Ltda
Rua Lysimaco Ferreira da Costa, 101 Centro Cívico
1 The full names of these conventions are: Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.