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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Statement on behalf of the EU at the 5th session of the UN Forum on Forests: Agenda item 7

Date of Speech : 16-05-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Dr. Frank Wolter, Deputy Director of the Luxembourg forestry administration

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr. Chairman,

Luxembourg has the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The acceding countries Bulgaria and Romania, the candidate countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro align themselves with this declaration.

1. The EU welcomes the Secretariat’s Note on this agenda item. It illustrates clearly the extent and nature of cooperation and coordination on forest related issues at the international and regional levels. There is a great deal going on, as the Secretariat’s Note describes, from debate on broad institutional and legal options to discussion of detailed technical considerations.

2. This work is being initiated and organised by a wide range of countries, UNCED-related Conventions, regional processes, partnerships, international organisations, countries and Major Groups. The Secretariat has had an important role in co-organising some of these but in most cases its main role has been to help bring the results to a wider international audience.

3. The value of these diverse efforts goes beyond the development of policy options and technical guidance and the sharing of lessons. Such cooperation and coordination also advances collaboration on new issues and helps build the capacity of individuals and organisations to implement policy in their own countries and organisations.

4. The nature and origins of the range of voluntary cooperative efforts being undertaken indicate that when there is sufficient demand to debate an emerging issue, or to share knowledge and lessons learned, then ways are found of bringing people together to do this. These efforts are sometimes in response to intergovernmental debate but perhaps just as often they precede and stimulate such debate. Any future international arrangement on forests should pay at least as much attention to receiving and helping to disseminate to a wider audience the outputs from such efforts as it does to initiating and organising them.

5. Initiatives are increasingly being organised at the regional and eco-regional level. To the extent possible, these should be integrated within existing regional institutional arrangements and avoid creation of new institutions. The Regional Commissions of ECOSOC, FAO’s Regional Forestry Commissions as well as regional processes, such as MCPFE and the nine Criteria and Indicator processes, are examples of efficient existing arrangements.

6. Taking into account the importance of regional approaches to sustainable forest management, we should consider ways for a structured cooperation between regional activities and the future IAF. FAO’s Regional Forestry Commissions, supported by UNEP’s Regional Offices represent suitable focal points in achieving better coordination between global and regional processes, which need to include CPF members, multilateral and bilateral donors as well as relevant stakeholders.

7. Mr. Chairman, cooperation and coordination are activities that individuals and organisations enter into voluntarily because they are persuaded that to do so is in the public interest. They are also, of course, motivated by what is in their own interest. They do not cooperate if the costs are high or if the demand for, and benefits from, cooperation are unclear.

8. Each organisation is subject to its own governance and management arrangements. These set priorities and the budgets to deliver them, thereby defining to a large degree the potential for cooperation and coordination with others. Those of us who are represented on the governing councils of members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and will be involved in the future international arrangement on forests should send consistent signals to both, making sure that CPF member organizations translate the political recommendations of the Forum. A future IAF should enhance coordination efforts by providing guidance for CPF members for joint work programmes of the CPF members.

9. Mr. Chairman, a final point. Efforts at cooperation and coordination must focus on implementations on the ground. They must also extend beyond the forest sector to inform wider policy processes about how forests can contribute to achievement of other goals, and how forests are affected by other policies and decisions. All of us here recognise the contribution that forests can make to achievement of wider goals but there are many outside the forest sector that are not well informed about this or who are not convinced. If a future international arrangement on forests is to change this, it must have the political status and credibility that command attention.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilsation and Association Process.

This page was last modified on : 17-05-2005

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