Pattaya, Thailand, 17 November 2023: The 59th session of the International Tropical Timber Council closed today, with Chairperson Mohammed Nurudeen Iddrisu calling it “very productive”. The Council made five decisions, including one that endorsed seven new projects and one new pre-project and formalized the financing of five projects and 25 activities, with funding of USD 6.16 million.
Other decisions addressed the administrative budget for 2024–2025 (Decision 2(LIX)); the Biennial Work Programme for 2024–2025 (Decision 3(LIX)); the management of the Administrative Budget (Decision 4(LIX)); and matters pertaining to the possible extension of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006 (Decision 5(LIX)). The five decisions will be available on the ITTO website in December 2023.
Under Decision 4(LIX), the Council adopted a trial measure to allow members that are ineligible to submit project proposals and concept notes because of arrears in their assessed contributions to the Administrative Budget to submit one project proposal or one concept note for every two years of arrears paid, provided that a payment plan for the total arrears owed is submitted at the same time.
“I believe that [this] decision is a good starting point for resolving this vexed issue,” said Dr Iddrisu in his closing remarks. “We will now put the proposed solution on trial, and I look forward to seeing positive results.”
Under Decision 5(LIX), the Council will take a decision without meeting by 1 June 2024 on the question of whether the ITTA, 2006 will be extended for three years to December 2029.
During the Council’s closing session, the incoming Producer Spokesperson, Dr Muhammad Zahrul Muttaqin, made a statement on behalf of the producer group related to the European Union deforestation regulation (EUDR).
“We concur with the statement of the Trade Advisory Group … that the regulations of the EUDR will have a significant impact on the tropical timber trade in the EU and serious implications in the tropical timber-producing countries,” according to the statement.
“[W]e request the EU to respect the efforts made by producer countries in improving the livelihood of their communities through sustainable development in the midst of challenges on financing, access limitation, technology, and technical assistance and we request the urgent revision of the EUDR with a practical approach and measures in consideration to meet the needs of these countries and smallholders, in line with Article 30 of EUDR to evolve a Forest Partnership with the tropical forest that allows “full participation of all stakeholders” …”.
The European Union also made a statement during the closing session.
“All of us in this room are concerned about the state of the world’s forests, and the attendant consequences for the world’s climate and biodiversity,” according to the statement. “And all of us have to act. As an important consumer of timber and timber products, the EU will make sure that its consumption does not drive further decline in the EU or beyond our borders.”
The statement set out some of the consultations the European Union had engaged in before the new regulation came into force.
“This said, the EU warmly welcomes any cooperation and is looking forward to continuing to engage with all interested third countries and along supply chains concerned to broaden the understanding of the new rules. In this we are very open to answer any questions bilaterally.”
Others to make statements during the closing session were India, the United States of America, the Deputy Director of the FAO Forestry Division (read in his absence by ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru) and the Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests.
Also on day 5, the Council received and adopted the reports of the committees on Economics, Statistics and Markets, Forest Industry, Finance and Administration, and Reforestation and Forest Management. Ms Anna Tyler (New Zealand) was elected as the incoming Chairperson of the Council, to applause.
In his closing remarks, Dr Idrissu referred to Trade and Markets Day, conducted on day 2 of the session, which has become “an extremely important part of the Council’s calendar”. He informed the Council that all presentations from the Day are available on the ITTO website, and he encouraged delegates to use these resources to help inform decisions and policies in their countries.
“I remind you that ITTO has generated many such resources over its long history,” said Dr Idrissu. “We should not undervalue this immense body of work and the extent to which it has helped shaped policies on sustainable forest management and the timber trade globally, nationally and locally.”
Dr Idrissu thanked Ms Satkuru for her steadfast guidance over the course of the session, and two retiring members of the Secretariat, Dr Steven Johnson and Dr Hwan Ok Ma, for their outstanding contributions to the Organization over their careers. He then closed the session.
The 60th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council will be held in Yokohama, Japan, on 1–6 December 2024.
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 IISD reporting services is available at https://enb.iisd.org/ittc59-international-tropical-timber-council