UN Forum on Forests: Major Groups Call for Urgent Action

Alberta Wilderness Association

News Release: April 23, 2007

New York, April 23 - Major Groups took the lead on a multi-stakeholder dialogue at the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) 7th Session being held in New York and called on Governments to undertake immediate action on behalf of civil society. They told the UNFF that the status quo is unacceptable and expressed alarm at the unprecedented rate of forest disappearance which is having tremendous impacts on people and the environment. They said that it is time to move the dialogue to action and called for a member country to host a Major Group-led initiative in 2008 that would allow more substantial discussion on Major Groups' engagement in the multi-year programme of work (MYPOW). Nations are convened at the UN Headquarters to discuss a non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests and the MYPOW for the period 2007-2015.

Breaking with tradition, the Major Groups worked in partnership with the Forum's chairman to encourage a better dialogue. Hans Hoogeven, UNFF Chairman, and Lorraine Rekmans, Indigenous Peoples' Major Group, jointly facilitated the discussion. Rekmans noted that Major Groups, as representatives of civil society, are participating in the UNFF, are contributing time and resources, and want definitive and immediate action.

While the Major Groups were poised as partners, the NLBI has been mostly silent on their involvement, Rekmans said. By contrast, certain parts of that text referred specifically to partnerships. If that partnership were to be looked upon as a marriage, then the major groups were indeed the neglected wife but that they intended to reconcile the relationship in a positive way. Major Groups were calling for innovative approaches to enhance stakeholder engagement in policy deliberations and in implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM) at all levels.

Representatives of the following Major Groups addressed today's meeting: Indigenous Peoples, Business and Industry, Non-Governmental Organizations, Farmers and Small Forest Landowners, Science and Technology, Children and Youth, and Women. The dialogue focused on three major themes: participation by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, private sector investment in SFM, and Major Group involvement in the implementation of the multi-year programme of work.

The Indigenous Peoples Major Group noted that many indigenous groups had a distinct legal status within their Member States which made it difficult for them to work legally when some States refused to recognize them. The distinctiveness of indigenous people must be recognized in NLBI. Indigenous peoples are intimately connected to the land-many of them are forest people and their survival depends crucially on their knowledge of the natural world.

The Business and Industry Major Group said companies stress the importance of the Forum and the important role that the private sector could play in funding and supporting sustainable forest management. Some countries are supporting much of the science that has led to the development of plantations and have major mutually beneficial international research projects. Delegates were told to look at public-private sector development. Some countries have gone a long way on certification, which has been very important in supporting markets in both domestic and export forestry. Business highlighted the need to stop illegal logging.

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Major Group said that new decision-making processes are needed; otherwise the same decision makers would continue to decide how new money will be spent. NGOs want expanded involvement of the Major Groups. UNFF needs a different focus for the different elements of the private sector. Greater application and enforcement of existing laws must be directed at industry to help with SFM and provide a level playing field for business. Action on illegal logging has been woefully inadequate. NGOs will continue to work with industry and focus on Forest Stewardship Council certification schemes that require civil society and Major Group involvement. Governments should assist by mandating some form of certification.

The Farmers and Small Landowners Major Group noted that, while some initial incentives are important, in the long run, SFM would be able to take care of itself without subsidies. Certification was a market-led initiative and should remain so; however, some government involvement in certification schemes is critical. Forest owners have also developed certification schemes and there are also many examples of mutually supportive public-private partnerships. In terms of the NLBI, partnerships often lack the recognition and resources for effective implementation. It is crucial to have a mechanism that allows for effective recognition of public-private partnerships.

The Science and Technology Major Group said the portfolio approach recently introduced in a paper by the World Bank is an interesting proposal. It discusses the possibility of public-private partnership and new and different obligations and responsibilities for both receiving and investing partners. Forestry activities in developing countries generated much enthusiasm in the 1960s as it was thought that private investment would provide funds needed for expanding the forest sector in developing countries. That great hope has vanished. The new private sector contracts embedded in the portfolio approach need to be looked at critically to assess its potentials and pitfalls. It is also necessary to see how science and technology can come into play with the private sector providing its own scientific and technological knowledge. Another issue was ensuring the capacity of the people to build upon initiatives after private investment disappears.

The Children and Youth Major Group emphasized the need for real commitment to SFM. They said that the UNFF will be a success if both Governments and society can look each other in the eyes and believe that global implementation of SFM has started. A strong NLBI must demonstrate how global objectives on forests could be reached and what resources are available to that end. Major Groups must be involved in the instrument's development, implementation and evaluation.

The Women's Major Group said transparency is essential when contracts are being prepared between the private sector and local communities. Mechanisms must be shaped to ensure an equitable distribution of resources, especially when there are agreements with those who are unable to read, write or negotiate in their own interests. They said the UNFF will be successful if it finds ways to bring about community-level action and solutions. A partnership for action towards expanded participation by Major Groups would allow them to raise the concerns of women and other marginalized groups, particularly about land tenure and other key topics, while providing innovative ideas and experiences. A specific proposal was presented for funding a pilot programme to demonstrate innovative ways to work collaboratively together, thus demonstrating to Governments the value of working with Major Groups.

For more information please contact the following:

Children and Youth

Ms. Johanna Gleißner and Mr. Pieter van Midwoud
International Forestry Students' Association
Tennenbacher Str. 4, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany
Tel: +49 761 203 3801 Fax: +49 761 203 3819
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Pierre Andipatin
Global Youth Network
P.O. Box 5968, Durban 4000, KZN, South Africa
Tel: +27-31-577-1228 Fax: +27-31-577-5825
E-mail: [email protected]

Susan Morre
International Forestry Students' Association
College of Forestry International Programs
Oregon State University
109A Richardson Hall
Corvallis, Oregon 97333
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Xavier Ndona Makusa, Initiatives-Jeunes
E-mail: [email protected]

Forest Business and Industry

International Council of Forest Product Associations
Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC)
Suite 410-99 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario,
K1P 6B9 Canada
Tel: + 1 613 563-1441 Fax: +1 613 563-4720

Forest Workers and Trade Unions

Mr. Bob Ramsay
Building and Wood Workers' International Global Wood and Forestry Programme
54, route des Acacias; CH-1227
Carouge Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 8273776 Fax: +41 22 8273770
E-mail: [email protected]

Mr. Paul Opanga, Project Coordinator
Building and Wood Workers' International
PO Bxo 40658, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel/Fax: +254-20-3751319
E-mail: [email protected]

Indigenous Peoples

Mr. Hubertus Samangun, International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropics
Jalan Setia Kawan Raya No. 39 - 41, Jakarta Pusat
Tel: +62 21 632 7559 Fax: + 62 21 632 6425
Email: [email protected]

Non-Governmental Organizations

Dr. Andrei Laletin, Friends of Siberian Forests
PO Box 26779 Krasnoyarsk-36, 660036 Russia
Tel: (7) 3912 498404 Fax: (7) 3912 498404
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Cliff Wallis
Alberta Wilderness Association
Box 6398, Station D
Calgary, AB T2P 2E1 CANADA
Tel (direct): 1 403 271 1408
Email: [email protected]

Private Forest Landowners

Ms. Birte Schmetjen
Confédération Européenne des Propriétaires Forestiers (CEPF)
Rue du Luxembourg 66 1000 Bruxelles
Tel: +32 2 2190231 Fax: +32 2 2192191
E-mail: [email protected]

Ms. Marike Michel, Global Alliance for Community Forestry
De Pizza Hut, los Colegios, 50mts Sur y 50 Noreste,
Moravia, Costa Rica
Tel: +52 55 55 50 61 87
Email: [email protected]

Scientific and Technological Community

c/o FAO Regional Office for Africa
Box 1628 Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 21 675 000 ext.3195 Fax: +233 21 668 427
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Sim Heok-Choh, Asia Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions
c/o Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong
52109 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Fax: +60 3 6277 3249
Email: [email protected]


Ms. Jeannette D. Gurung, PhD, Director
Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management
26 Beckett Way, Ithaca, NY 14850, United States
Tel/ Fax: +1 607 319 0347
Email: [email protected]

Ms. Alice Akinyi Kaudia, PhD, IUCN - The World Conservation Union
P. O. Box 68200-00200 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 (20) 890605 -12 Fax: +254 (20) 890615
Email: [email protected]

Ms. Kanchan Lama, Director
Society for Partners in Development
GPO Box 8975 EPC 5181, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977 1 552 1501
Email: [email protected]