Thursday, 2 December 2021: The ITTO Fellowship Selection Panel, which met virtually this year, has recommended that the International Tropical Timber Council award 18 new ITTO Fellowships in 2021. Of this latest potential group of Fellows, seven are from Africa, six are from the Asia-Pacific region and five are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Seven of the 18 candidates are women.
The Secretariat’s Ms Sheam Satkuru presented the ITTO Fellowship Selection Panel’s report on day 3 of the 57th session of the Council, which is being held virtually this week. The Council will consider the recommendations of the panel and make a final decision on the awards before the close of the session. The total value of the 18 Fellowships is approximately USD 127 000.
ITTO offers Fellowships through the Freezailah Fellowship Fund to promote human resource development and strengthen professional expertise in member countries in tropical forestry and related disciplines, including the sustainable management of tropical forests, the efficient use and processing of tropical timber, and the improvement of economic information on the international trade in tropical timber. The ITTO Fellowship Programme, established in 1989, has seen more than 1400 young and mid-career professionals from 49 countries pursue career development opportunities, with awards totalling USD 14.4 million. Prominent donors to the programme are the governments of Japan, the USA, the Netherlands, and Australia.
Articles on ITTO Fellowships written by the Fellows themselves are published in each edition of ITTO’s newsletter, the Tropical Forest Update. Most recently, Atté Cyrille Bi Tiesse, from Côte d’Ivoire, related how he and colleagues used remote sensing and a geographic information system to map water-erosion sensitivity in the mountainous Tonkpi region. In the next edition of the Tropical Forest Update, due out later this month, Angelica Barrero, from Colombia (see photo), will describe how her plans took an unexpected turn because of the pandemic, but she still achieved a master’s degree in development and conservation practice.
Biennial Work Programme discussed
Also on day 3 of the session, the Council discussed progress on the implementation of the Organization’s Biennial Work Programme (BWP) for 2021–2022. Donors, led by Japan, have so far pledged 48% of the total budgeted amount for BWP activities over the biennium (USD 4.35 million).
Highlights provided on BWP field-oriented work included the establishment and operation of the Global Legal and Sustainable Supply Chain Platform; the promotion of smallholder forest landscape restoration in West Africa; the development of training curricula for Central African countries on legal and sustainable supply chains; capacity building for the implementation of legal and sustainable supply chains by stakeholders in the Congo Basin; the strengthening of sustainable forest management standards and the timber legality framework in Myanmar; the analysis of timber legality assurance systems and good practices in China, Myanmar and Viet Nam; global forest education; and the dissemination of ITTO’s Guidelines for Forest Landscape Restoration in the Tropics.
New strategic action plan considered
Ms Jennifer Conje (USA) presented the report of the Working Group on the ITTO Strategic Action Plan for the period 2022–2026. The draft Strategic Action Plan, if adopted, will guide ITTO’s policy and project work for the next five years with the aim of making progress towards the twin objectives of promoting the sustainable management of tropical timber-producing forests and the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests. The draft plan features four strategic priorities, four crosscutting strategies and 38 associated targets to be accomplished by 2026. The Council will consider adopting the draft Strategic Action Plan in a decision later this week.
Additionally, the Council discussed a draft communication plan for the Organization presented by the Secretariat. The draft plan has three goals: 1) to elevate ITTO’s thought leadership on tropical forests; 2) to promote successful sustainable forest management practices; and 3) to continue serving tropical timber industry members.
Mr John Leigh (Peru) presented the report of the 56th Expert Panel for the Technical Appraisal of Project Proposals. The Expert Panel, which conducted a virtual review of 14 project proposals (six from Africa, five from Asia-Pacific and three from Latin America and the Caribbean) in June–July 2021, recommended five proposals for immediate funding. Seven proposals were recommended for revision and two require reformulation.
The Committee on Finance and Administration met to discuss and adopt the report of its latest session. The Secretariat had circulated committee documents before the start of the Council session and invited comments that were then incorporated in the committee’s draft report as interventions.
The Council discussed payments to the Organization’s administrative account and use of its Working Capital Reserve, drawing on a background paper presented by the Secretariat. This paper was well received by members and an intersessional working group will be established to make proposals on incentives for member payments to the administrative account and the use of working capital.
The International Tropical Timber Council meets 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 IISD reporting services is available at https://enb.iisd.org/ITTC57-International-Tropical-Timber-Council