Special Session for Voting on Proposed Amendments to the IPC-Convention

FAO (Green Room) Rome, 6 February 2019

10:00 – 11:15

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Letter from Martin Weih, Chair of the International Poplar Commission  

Carta del Presidente de la Comisión Internacional del Álamo 

Lettre du président de la Commission internationale du peuplier 

28 September 2018

Dear IPC Member Nations;

As you are aware, Member Nations of the International Poplar Commission (IPC) have been invited to vote on certain changes to the IPC Convention in February 2019. This vote could result in the first change to the Convention since 1977. Thank you for your diligence through the six-year participatory process leading up to the vote. During the past two Sessions of the International Poplar Commission, and the recent comment period on the Convention text, your countries have provided us valuable guidance on the content of that text and thus the future direction of the IPC. The process also benefitted from the related discussions held at the 23rd and 24th sessions of the Committee on Forestry.

Though it would be an important milestone, changing the text of the IPC Convention is not the essence of the IPC reform. Rather, by changing the Convention we enable reform to begin in earnest. The core mission of the IPC has always been enabling the use of trees for restoration of degraded lands, diversification of farmers’ income, and improvement of the productivity of forests landscapes. It has done this by providing ready means for countries to exchange ideas, approaches, and genetic material. The successes facilitated by the IPC demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach; for example, in the past decade the IPC has been instrumental in poplar outgrowing schemes that contribute to livelihoods in India, combating desertification in China, and erosion control in New Zealand and Argentina. In so doing, the IPC mission has significantly improved lives and livelihoods worldwide.

Poplars and willows (trees in the family SALICACEAE) have been effective in improving peoples’ livelihoods and their environment. However, binding the IPC to those genera limits its ability to extend its successful approach in transferring knowledge, technology and germplasm to countries where poplars or willows will not grow. And, it precludes the IPC from working with mixtures or with other pioneering species that may be more effective than using poplars or willows alone. It is thus clear to us that the current focus on the SALICACEAE under-values the potential scope and mission of the IPC.

We brought this issue before IPC Member Nations in the last IPC Special Session in July 2018; there, IPC Member Nations called for a consultation and comment on the draft amendments to the Convention. In line with paragraph 6 and 7 of the report of that Special Session it was decided to present the amendment to the 41st Session of the FAO Conference in June 2019. The requirements that the text be reviewed by the FAO Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters before that and that IPC Member Nations should have 120 days to review the final text, meant that the timetable could only allow one month for the consultation. We were heartened that we nevertheless received 15 responses from IPC Member Nations during that short time.

Most responses were supportive of the reform. Five IPC Member Nations suggested we eliminate a list of illustrative genera in the previous text; we have listened and made that change to the draft Convention text. We are also aware of other comments; some are related to relationships to other organizations or bodies. Others are about the general need to assess the effectiveness of IPC in the light of emerging developments, including the milestone agreement reached by the global community in 2015, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests. Having analyzed them carefully we have come to the conclusion that these would require more time and further work. Rather than losing that time, we recommend a two-staged approach.

In the first stage, we would conclude the ongoing step of the reform by IPC Member Nation voting on the current amendment to the Convention text. Thereafter, the IPC Executive Committee is committed to continue to facilitate the reform process and help improve the IPC’s ability to carry out its mission. To that end, after the vote we will continue the reform by engaging current and potential Member Nations, mapping priorities, and charting a strategic path that reinforces existing national and international institutions. We would be open to proposals from IPC Member Nations that encourage the IPC to consider possibly more significant changes. We would also need engagement from IPC Member Nations to translate the current scope into reality; and we would commit to prepare the way so that serious discussions could begin at the next regular session of the IPC in 2020.

I therefore urge you all to join us for the vote in February 2019 and to support the IPC on the most relevant path. And, I hope all IPC Member Nations will use that opportunity to renew and revitalize their engagement with the IPC and pursue the possibilities it offers to improve the use of trees for society and the environment.

Sincerely,

Martin Weih

Chair of the International Poplar Commission’s Executive Committee

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
Department of Crop Production Ecology
P.O. Box 7043
SE-750 07 Uppsala
SWEDEN

last updated:  Wednesday, January 16, 2019