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International Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators
for Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward
Guatemala City, Guatemala
3 - 7 February 2003


Objective 2: Promoting political commitment for the use of criteria and indicators as tools for sustainable forest management

Chairperson: Dr Ingwald Gschwandtl

Director of Forest Policy and Information

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Austria

Rapporteur: Ms Tiina Vahanen, FAO

A. Introduction

The discussions held and the conclusions and recommendations produced by this Working Group are based on (1) the background discussion paper introduced in plenary by Dr José Antonio Prado (Chile) entitled "Promoting political commitment for the use of criteria and indicators as tools for sustainable forest management" and (2) the following three case studies presented in this working group discussion:

B. Conclusions

1. Sustainability is a dynamic and evolving concept, which varies according to political economic and social conditions of countries and changing values of society. Criteria and indicators should be reviewed periodically to reflect these conditions, experience gained, new scientific information, technological advancements and traditional forest-related knowledge.

2. Important advances in implementing sustainable forest management have been made since 1990 when work on criteria and indicators was first initiated. There is a need to ensure that the momentum is not lost and global recognition of criteria and indicators is achieved.

3. Advances towards sustainable forest management, including implementing criteria and indicators, depend on country conditions, especially technical capacities and resource availability.

4. The official development aid (ODA) to the forest sector has declined over the past years in many developing countries. The donor community is guided by priorities set by national governments. There is therefore a need to raise the profile of the forest sector and the role of sustainable forest management and criteria and indicators in the national policy agendas.

5. A number of international organizations and donor countries have provided financial resources and environmentally sound technology in support of countries efforts towards implementation of criteria and indicators. However, enhanced international cooperation is needed, including the exchange of information and experience, to build national and local capacities in developing countries.

6. Political commitment, especially at the national level, is essential to developing and implementing criteria and indicators. In turn, criteria and indicators can serve as a useful tool for monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of existing national policies and forest-related projects and programmes. Regional and international political commitment is essential as well.

7. Participation of countries in the regional and international criteria and indicator processes is already a demonstration of political commitment and should be further enhanced. Regional commitment should be founded on national commitment.

8. Political commitment to criteria and indicators can generate opportunities to attract domestic and external financing, including from the private sector. It can also mobilize resources and help ensure more efficient use of existing funding and institutional mechanisms.

9. It is not sufficient that only foresters and forest-related institutions and organizations are involved in the processes oriented towards sustainable forest management, such as development and implementation of criteria and indicators. National coordination is needed to help ensure that sustainable forest management contribute to and benefit from developments and efforts in other sectors such as poverty eradication, agriculture, food security, energy, water, mining, biological diversity and sustainable development overall.

10. Broadly-based participation of government and non-governmental stakeholders in the work on criteria and indicators advances:

11. Integration of criteria and indicators into national forest programmes or other equivalent policy processes will support action on sustainable forest management and facilitate monitoring progress towards it; criteria and indicators and national forest programmes are thus mutually beneficial and supportive instruments.

12. Wider political regional processes can provide strong commitment, such as in the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE), Montreal Process, African Timber Organization (ATO), Tarapoto Process and Lepaterique Process. Commitment at the regional level can facilitate shared views, help avoid overlap and make best use of technical capabilities. Ministerial and other high-level commitment (including through regular ministerial meetings) at the regional level can provide a powerful framework for national efforts.

13. There is a need to effectively use UNFF as a global policy forum, which can enhance high-level commitment and action in support of sustainable forest management at the national and international levels.

14. A common set of criteria among the regional processes can promote credibility and progress at the international level. A key set of indicators could also be a useful way forward.

C. Recommendations

1. Countries should promote broad participation of government and non-governmental stakeholders, especially local communities, in the development and implementation of criteria and indicators.

2. In addition to political commitment, international cooperation should be strengthened, including financial support, transfer of technology and know-how, to support developing counties in the development and implementation of criteria and indicators.

3. Countries should create or use already existing mechanisms for cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination.

4. Countries should integrate criteria and indicators into national forest programmes or similar policy frameworks, and where relevant, into other existing processes underpinning sustainable development.

5. National governments of developing countries should strengthen capacity building and mobilize financial resources (both domestic and external) to the development and implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management through bi-lateral and international partnerships, the donor community should strengthen support towards these efforts.

6. Countries should encourage enabling environment for domestic and foreign investment in the forest sector.

7.Criteria and indicator processes should strengthen inter-process cooperation and enhance sharing of experience to make better use of existing know-how.

8. Better use should be made of existing networks and expert groups to support the further elaboration and implementation of criteria and indicators.

9. Governments should help ensure that the high-level international dialogue, including in UNFF, has a clear focus on sustainable forest management, and recognizes the contribution of criteria and indicators to sustainable forest management, as well as its contribution to other sectors and to sustainable development.

10. International organizations should help streamline country reporting to international processes, including through criteria and indicators, in order to reduce reporting burden.

11. The Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) should make strong linkages to criteria and indicators.

12. Member countries are encouraged to seek support for the work on criteria and indicators, including strengthening regional collaboration, through FAO, ITTO, Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and other relevant organizations.

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