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World of forestry

Rome Declaration on Forestry

9 March 1999

We, the ministers responsible for forests or their representatives who met at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, on 8 and 9 March 1999 at the second Ministerial Meeting on Forestry under the sponsorship of FAO, to consider "Sustainability Issues in Forestry, the National and International Challenges,"

emphasizing the critical importance of forests to the welfare, livelihood and food security of all people and future generations and to the life support system of the entire planet, as set forth in the 1995 Rome Statement on Forestry and in the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action,

deeply concerned with the important challenges associated with forest loss and degradation in many regions and stressing the need to maintain the integrity of forests as ecosystems by promoting sustainable forest management worldwide,

noting that this Ministerial Meeting was convened by the Director-General of FAO to highlight the critical need to make national and international progress toward the sustainable management of the world's forests, and to consider international instruments to support sustainable forest management, global action to address forest fires, and the Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015,

welcoming the progress made to date on sustainable forest management, including FAO's role in the assessment of forest resources, and the significant achievements at national, regional and international levels, including the development and implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and of national forest programmes,

noting that the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF), which was established under the auspices of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development with a time-limited mandate, is considering issues related to sustainable forest management, including international arrangements and mechanisms,

also noting a range of options for international arrangements and mechanisms to support sustainable forest management, including voluntary, incentive-based approaches; private sector initiatives; regional agreements and initiatives; and global legally binding and non-legally binding instruments,

further noting that a number of international arrangements and mechanisms already exist which address and have implications for the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable forest management, and that the need for and nature of future international arrangements and mechanisms should be considered in more depth by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session in the year 2000 as a matter of priority,

recognize that this Ministerial Meeting provides an opportunity to exchange views on international arrangements and mechanisms and provide high level political support to the ongoing discussions at the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests,

call on FAO to facilitate and give support to national, regional and international processes related to forests, especially enhancing the implementation of national forest programmes and criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management,

noting that the causes of forest fires are many and complex and recognizing the need to harness efforts to prevent forest fires as well as to address the multiple causes and consequences of fires around the globe,

welcome the meeting on Public Policies Affecting Forest Fires hosted by FAO in October 1998 and encourage FAO to take action to implement the recommendations directed to it,

call on FAO and other international organizations, donor agencies and interested countries to work together to address the underlying causes of forest fires, to improve the coordination of their efforts to prevent and combat forest fires and to rehabilitate affected areas with a view to providing assistance requested by governments,

noting the draft Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015 that will be considered by the FAO Conference in November 1999 highlights the critical need for countries to implement integrated approaches to sustainable development, including combatting desertification and drought, which recognize the importance of the sustainable management of forests and their ecosystems in achieving sustainable agriculture and food security,

also noting that forests can be adversely affected by policies outside the forest sector, including agriculture and trade policies, and recognize the need for integrated land use and mutually supportive trade and environment policies in support of sustainable forest management,

underscore the importance of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches to forest management, participatory decision making in development taking into account gender balance, and increased cooperation, including through partnerships, between the public and private sectors to achieve sustainable forest management and sustainable development,

encourage national, regional and international efforts to increase public awareness of the importance of forests and strengthen education, research, extension and the dissemination of knowledge and information to improve forest management,

call on all interested parties to give greater priority to sustainable forest management; reaffirm the proposals for action agreed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests regarding international co-operation in financial assistance and technology transfer; recognize the need to build capacity for sustainable forest management in public and private sectors at local, national and international levels; and urge FAO to allocate adequate financial resources to forestry,

welcome the recommendations of the Fourteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and encouraged their endorsement by the FAO Council with a view to facilitating their early implementation.

We pledge our political will to bear on improving forest management in our respective countries and to promote effective international cooperation to achieve sustainable forest management worldwide.

We further pledge

· to work together towards a constructive and forward looking outcome on future arrangements for the global forest policy dialogue at the eighth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development;

· to better coordinate and strengthen our efforts to prevent, manage, monitor and suppress forest fires especially in anticipation of the next El Niño/La Niña events and, in the longer term, to address the underlying causes of forest fires;

· to work closely with our counterparts in other ministries in our countries to promote cross-sectoral policies and activities that support sustainable forest management.

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