Item 12 of the Provisional Agenda




Rome, 1-5 March 1999




1. FAO's involvement with World Forestry Congresses dates back to 1945 when the Organization took over the functions of the International Institute of Agriculture (IIA). The IIA had organized the World Forestry Congresses held in Rome in 1926 and in Budapest in 1936, the latter having led to the establishment of the Institute's International Centre for Silviculture in Berlin in 1939. Since then, FAO has selected the host country and has co-sponsored and assisted in the organization of nine congresses, the last one in Antalya, Turkey, 13-22 October 1997. The XII World Forestry Congress is scheduled to be held in 2003 and the Council will be called upon to decide on the host country at its 116th session in June 1999.

2. The purpose of the Congress is to serve as a forum for the exchange of views and experience and for discussion of matters concerning all aspects of forestry which may lead to the formulation of broad recommendations applicable on a regional or world-wide basis. The Congress also has the wider purpose of providing a periodical opportunity (generally every six years) for the sector to produce an overview of the state of forests and forestry, in order to discern trends, adapt policies and create awareness in decision-makers, the public opinion and in all parties concerned.

3. The Congress is not an intergovernmental meeting and it has no formal constituencies or country delegations. As the main global fora for all those concerned with forests and forestry, the Congress should be seen as the meeting of the whole world. The process of preparation should engage all constituencies of the forestry sector and the various geographic regions and a sense of universal ownership should prevail. The functions of the Congress are advisory, not executive. The implementation of its recommendations is a matter solely for those to whom these are addressed - governments, international organizations, scientific bodies, forest owners, etc. - in the light of their own particular circumstances. The outcome of the Congress should be brought to the attention of the FAO Conference following the Congress, which may wish to consider for possible endorsement, through a resolution, the Declaration emanating from the Congress.

4. At its 64th session in 1974, the Council endorsed the principles governing World Forestry Congresses and provisions to be included in the rules of procedure of World Forestry Congresses. Updated and more elaborate guidelines were adopted by the Council at its 115th session in November 1998 (see COFO-99/INF.5). The Council's policy guidelines have been supplemented by technical-operational guidelines prepared by the Forestry Department, which were made available to interested countries.


5. Before consideration of the submissions by the FAO Council an early assessment of the potential host countries should be available, indicating the comparative advantages, opportunities and any particular constraints which may need to be resolved. This also refers to raising the necessary funding to ensure the attendance of deserving participants from developing countries. Any technical and logistic support that FAO should provide to assist the host country and supplement its capabilities should be identified at an early stage.

6. The submissions will be presented to the Council, for decision, with the recommendations made by the Committee on Forestry. The Council will take into consideration inter alia the desirability for a rotation among the various regions for the location of the Congress and the provisions proposed to ensure universal and broad participation in the preparation and the conduct of the Congress. In this connection, the following countries have hosted the eleven congresses organized up to date:

7. Normally those countries interested in hosting the next Congress express their desire at the closing ceremony of the Congress. Five countries expressed their interest at the XI World Forestry Congress; two later withdrew their candidatures. The Director-General invited countries, through a Circular State Letter dated 14 January 1999, to submit offers to host and organize the Congress. The deadline for submissions was 28 February 1999. The complete submissions presented by Canada and Guatemala are available separately.


8. The following countries have indicated their interest and have submitted their candidatures to host the Congress in 2003: 9. The Secretariat suggests that the Committee make recommendations to the Council for the choice of the host country, taking into account inter alia the following criteria: 10. Canada proposes to host the XII WFC in September 2003 using suitable facilities at the Congress Center of Quebec. The Center has a total area of 34 000 sqm, with a capacity for as many as 10 000 participants with main meeting rooms of 6970 and 3205 sqm and 30 additional meeting rooms totaling 3070 sqm. The hotel capacity in this city of 600 000 inhabitants is about 11 000 rooms of which 2000 in the vicinity of the Congress Center. There are good air travel connections with Montreal (40 min) and with New York, Toronto and Boston. The host organizations would be Natural Resources Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources of Quebec, both co-chairing the Congress Organizing Committee. A special fund would be established to assist some of the participants from developing countries and to cover the expenses of some of the special guests and the speakers.

11. Canada, with 418 million ha of forest (45% of the land area) representing 10% of the forests of the globe, $7I,4 billion in forest products in 1995 and 830 000 people employed by the forestry sector, offers a significant variety of scientific and technical experience to share during the Congress, if selected as host country.

12. Guatemala (which means "land of the trees") has 2 898 200 ha of forests which correspond to 26.6 % of its territory, but 51% of the total land area has a vocation for forestry. The domestic consumtion of forest products between 1993 and 1995 was of 1.6 million m3 of timber, while exports were 60 829 m3. Forest biomass energy represents 63% of the national energy consumption. The subsector contributes to 2.5% of the GIP. The national institution reponsible for the management of forests and forest lands is the National Forests Institute (INAB), a descentalized and authonomous institution established by the Forests Law of 1996. INAB has an annual budget of approximatly $ 4 million.

13. At national level Guatemala offers over 11 000 rooms which can accommodate as many as 25000 visitors. The various convention centres in the capital have a capacity for over 11 000 participants. If selected as the host country, Guatemala offers to organize study tours on various technical subjects, covering 6 different itineraries.