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Jim Anderton Address To UN Forum On Forests





26 MAY 2005

Chair, fellow Ministers, distinguished delegates

It gives me great pleasure to address this meeting at a time when we are focused on the need to address the future of the international arrangement on forests. This must be done with sensitivity to the needs of humankind, as well as to the future needs of our environment.

We have come far in the thirteen years since the UN Conference on Environment and Development and Agenda 21's Forest Principles. Much of this work is now encapsulated in our Proposals for Action; and other important initiatives including the development of the criteria and indicator processes, and the country-led initiatives: New Zealand has been an enthusiastic and active participant in these.

But we all agree that the current international arrangement on forests has not done enough to raise the political profile of forest issues. Implementation Proposals for Action has lagged behind expectations. Change is necessary:

- Forestry must be redefined in terms of other political agendas: we heard yesterday of the importance of forests to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.

The future international arrangement must do more to promote implementation, and combat deforestation, degradation, and illegal activities.

In considering what type of international arrangement on forestry will best serve us all, New Zealand has remained open to the possibility of a legally binding option, where it commands widespread support. It is clear that is not yet the case. Alternatives must meet our new needs and the expectations of a wider stakeholder body.

New Zealand has worked closely with others to develop options and identify essential components. These should include:

- A high level political forum to provide leadership, commitment, coordination and direction to the forest-related agenda. This ministerial body needs to be able to step back, and assess the extent of progress: to do so, it should meet every second year. The present annual meetings allow insufficient time to determine which issues need ministerial engagement: a biennial meeting would be more likely to increase ministerial attendance and political commitment.

New Zealand appreciates the role of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests: this should be strengthened in a way that facilitates greater coordinated activity among the CPF members.

- Biennial regional meetings: Many countries in our Pacific region do not feel that a meeting like this in New York has much relevance to the issues they face at home. Biennial regional meetings could lay the groundwork for the global ministerial meetings, creating a "bottom-up" approach to global forestry discussions. They could themselves have a ministerial component. We must maximise collective action and minimise duplication and confusion. Regional meetings, co-hosted by UNFF and the FAO's regional forestry commissions, could significantly improve coordination and implementation, bringing donors and developing countries together to form partnerships to address forest issues. Successful initiatives in one region could have a demonstration effect in others: these experiences could be shared during the biennial global meetings.

- Some concise over-arching objectives that encapsulate our purpose and allow us to reflect on progress.

It is also clear that we need increased resources from all sources devoted to forest issues. Part of the answer will lie in accessing new funding arrangements - including by identifying and valuing the wider contributions to sustainable development derived from forests. It should also include identifying market opportunities for investment (including by the private sector) in ecosystem services provided by forests. The NZ delegation has provided an example of how this can work with climate change at our side event on what we call EBEX21.

Mr Chairman

New Zealand's own forest system is unique, with separated, but complementary, roles of native forests (now in the conservation estate) and planted forest estate (established on marginally productive farmland).

Together they comprise our particular story of sustainability and we are committed to monitoring and reporting on sustainable forest management implementation progress against the Intergovernmental Panel/Intergovernmental Forum Proposals for Action and the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators. In both cases our experience has been that these reporting and monitoring lists required rationalisation and customisation to match our national circumstances.

I look forward to being able to join with my fellow Ministers in reaffirming our commitment to significantly increasing our efforts to address the concerns we have for a sector that has such a fundamental and wide-ranging impact on the livelihoods of our populations.

Thank you.


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