ITTO will have an additional US$2.2 million of funds available for implementing its work programme thanks to pledges made by donors at the 53rd session of the International Tropical Timber Council, intersessional pledges, and an announcement by Germany that it will pledge US$1 million after it completes administrative procedures.
Donors at the session were the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, China, Finland and the Netherlands. The funds will be used to finance several activities in the newly approved Biennial Work Programme.
The Council also agreed to spend up to US$300 000 from the Working Capital Reserve on a new fundraising initiative, including an ad hoc working group, designed, among other things, to improve ITTO’s financing infrastructure and fundraising strategies.
Germany’s forthcoming funds will be committed to an activity in the Biennial Work Programme to enhance teak management in up to five countries in each of the three main tropical regions.
Statement by the Civil Society Advisory Group
Danièle Ramiaramanana addressed the Council in its final plenary on behalf of the Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG), which represents a range of non-governmental organizations and groups and provides ongoing inputs to ITTO’s work.
“CSAG continues to be convinced that informal, domestic and regional markets will play an ever-increasing role in the economy of many ITTO producer and consumer countries,” said Ms Ramiaramanana.
CSAG, she said, therefore encouraged ITTO to give more attention to participatory processes and the empowerment of stakeholders in its project cycle, and it offered its assistance to ensure sufficient social and gender expertise in the evaluation of project proposals.
CSAG also “strongly recommended” that the Council include a formal CSAG presentation in its sessions, said Ms Ramiaramanana, to ensure it “takes full advantage of, and benefits fully from, the knowledge, experience and expertise available in CSAG”.
CSAG, she said, looked forward to working with the ITTO Executive Director, Dr Dieterle, and the Council on issues of interest to CSAG, including sustainable forestry; the legal, transparent and equitable trade of timber and non-timber forest products; gender, and women’s empowerment; tenure; community forest enterprise development; and social aspects related to indigenous peoples and local communities, including women.
Closing remarks by Executive Director and Chairperson
In the closing plenary, Dr Dieterle said that the decisions made at this session formed “a solid package to guide us not only for the next year but towards a new future”.
The decisions, he said, “will allow us to pursue new initiatives that have great potential to increase the relevance of the Organization as an important player in the forest and climate-change regime. It will allow us to highlight the role of productive forests and green supply chains in green growth.”
In closing the session, the Chairperson, Tabi Agyarko, said the Council had faced and dealt with a number of challenges, with delegates coming to consensus on a range of topics and taking strides towards delivering on the Organization’s mission.
Nevertheless, said Mr Agyarko, the funding gap between projects submitted and the funding available remains an extremely serious issue.
“We need to take urgent steps to remedy this situation,” he said. “I therefore place great hope on the newly established ad hoc working group to address this matter.”
A strong ITTO was essential, said Mr Agyarko. “No other organization could fully fill the void that would be created by a weak ITTO.”
Mr Agyarko urged delegates to continue to work hard for the success of the Organization.
“In the coming year and beyond, let’s work together more closely than ever, to continue our good work and make a difference in the world,” he said.
The Council made several other decisions, including to adopt the ITTO Policy Guidelines on Gender Equality and Empowering Women, which the Council had reviewed during the session. These guidelines will serve as a framework for gender integration and mainstreaming in ITTO policies, plans, programmes, projects, activities and internal functioning with the aim of increasing the impact and effectiveness of the Organization’s operations in all areas and all levels. The Council made funds available to commence the operationalization of the guidelines.
The delegate of Togo announced his country's invitation to the Council to hold its 55th session in Togo in 2019.
All decisions made at the session, and other Council documents, including financial statements, will be available on the ITTO website in coming weeks.
The International Tropical Timber Council meets at least once a year to discuss a wide-ranging agenda aimed at promoting sustainable tropical forest management and the trade of sustainably produced tropical timber.
Daily coverage of the session by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin is available at http://enb.iisd.org/forestry/itto/ittc53/