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The International Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management:The Way Forward(CICI-2003) was hosted by the National Forest Service of Guatemala (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, INAB) in Guatemala City, 3-7 February 2003, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the Governments of Finland and the United States.

CICI-2003 brought together 109 experts representing 73 governments, international organizations, criteria and indicator processes, and private sector and non-government groups to considerways to:(1) Strengthen elaboration and implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, (2) promote political commitment for their use, (3) strengthen institutional capacity and stakeholder partnerships and (4) contribute to the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) and international initiatives on indicators related to sustainable development.

CICI-2003 recognized the role of criteria and indicators in building a common understanding of sustainable forest management, coordinating data collection and dissemination, monitoring and assessing forest conditions, and influencing national policies and practices as well as international cooperation on forests. It also recognized that sustainability is a dynamic concept and that criteria and indicators will evolve to reflect experience gained, new scientific information and changing values of society. In charting "the way forward", CICI-2003 agreed on 30 conclusions and 24 recommendations for national and international action. These conclusions and recommendations are found in Section VI (pages 4 - 11). They may be summarized as follows:

a) Criteria and indicators have many applications, including as a framework for setting goals, facilitating and monitoring sustainable forest management and the effectiveness of national forests programmes and policies, certification, strategic planning, communicating progress to policy makers and the public and building bridges among stakeholders. Countries should integrate criteria and indicators into national forest programmes or similar policy frameworks and other processes related to sustainable development.

b) Political commitment at all levels, especially the national level, is essential to developing and implementing criteria and indicators and should be enhanced. Regional commitment can also provide a powerful framework for national efforts and coordinated requests for external assistance, facilitate shared views and make best use of technical capabilities.

c) Stakeholder participation advances understanding of the benefits of criteria and indicators and generates long-term commitment to action on sustainable forest management. Countries should promote broad participation of all relevant stakeholders in a transparent, continuous and iterative process, using existing and innovative mechanisms.Universitiesand other educational institutions should incorporate in their curricula the latest information on sustainable forest management and skills to develop and implement criteria and indicators.

d) There is a need to enhance capacity, especially in developing countries, to implement criteria and indicators. Developing countries should create an enabling environment to attract domestic and foreign forest investment, including capacity building for criteria and indicators, mobilize other resources through bi-lateral and international partnerships, seek support through FAO, ITTO and the Global Environment Facility, and help ensure more efficient use of existing mechanisms. The donor community should support these efforts by providing financial support, technology and know-how.

e) National level indicators developed in regional and internationalprocesses may need to be adapted to country conditions and all may not be relevant at sub-national levels. Countries may determine national progress towards sustainable forest management by aggregating lower level indicators if these levels are representative of country-wide conditions.

f) To enhance coordination among countries and processes, FAO and ITTO should convene an international expert consultation to consider: (a) developing a communication network among processes, countries and other relevant partners; (b) improving common understanding and harmonization of concepts, terms and definitions; (c) identifying common approaches and methods for collecting, storing and sharing data; (d) strengthening processes and inter-process cooperation; (e) the merits of forming anad hocinternational technical advisory group to address technical issues related to criteria and indicators. Results should provide inputs to UNFF between its 3rdand 4thSessions.

g) National and international institutions should carry out research on criteria and indicators that are difficult to measure, including biodiversity, non-timber forest products, non-market values, soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, and social and cultural aspects.

In considering the potential benefits of a common set of criteria based on existing sets elaborated by regional and international processes, participants acknowledged seven common thematic areas: (1) extent of forest resources(2) biological diversity, (3) forest health and vitality, (4) productive functions of forest resources, (5) protective functions of forest resources, (6) socio-economic functions and (7) legal, policy and institutional framework.

i) National forest assessments and inventories are a basic source of information on indicators. Countries should incorporate the main elements of criteria and indicators into their assessments and develop cost-efficient data collection strategies.

j) Better cooperation is needed among national and international organizations collecting forest data. FAO should use the thematic areas common to all regional and international sets of national-level criteria in the overall framework for theGlobal Forest Resources Assessment(GFRA), while helping to ensure specific national aspects are incorporated. GFRA information should facilitate use of criteria and indicators nationally and internationally, including in UNFF, and improve the compatibility of information from different sources.

k) The FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) should reaffirm implementation of criteria and indicators as an FAO priority, including technical assistance and capacity building through the National Forest Programme Facility, and strengthen FAO's role in facilitating collaboration among criteria and indicator processes.

l) Countries should ensure that UNFF recognizes the contribution of criteria and indicators to sustainable forest management and in turn sustainable development, and helps rationalize national forest-related reporting. Countries should consider using criteria and indicators to report progress on sustainable forest management to UNFF. The Collaborative Partnership on Forests' Task Force on Streamlining Reporting should take into account work on criteria and indicators, recommend to respective governing bodies ways to reduce national reporting, invite criteria and indicator processes and countries with reporting experience to participate in its work, and promote use of criteria and indicators in other initiatives on indicators.

m) The contribution of forests to poverty alleviation, water, energy, health, agriculture and biological diversity is not well recognized. Better national and international coordination is needed to help ensure that sustainable forest management contribute to and benefit from developments in these and other sectors, as well as sustainable development overall. Countries, international organizations and UNFF should work to increase public awareness of the potential application of forest criteria and indicators to other sectors and initiatives on indicators for sustainable development (e.g. in CBD, CSD and OECD) and maintain forests on national and international policy agendas.

The Conference requested the Government of Guatemala to present the results of CICI-2003 to all relevant regional and international forest fora throughout 2003, beginning with the 16th Session of COFO in March 2003.

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