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The Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe (INC-Forests4) made substantial progress in revising the draft negotiating text of a forest convention, but decided to suspend work until autumn because it had run out of time to conclude a few key issues in the text, reach consensus on institutional issues and prepare the interim arrangements for the convention.

Chair Jan Heino (center) during one of the plenary sessions (photo courtesy of the INC-Forests Secretariat)14 June 2013: The Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Legally-Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe (INC-Forests4) made substantial progress in revising the draft negotiating text of a forest convention, but decided to suspend work until autumn because it had run out of time to conclude a few key issues in the text, reach consensus on institutional issues and prepare the interim arrangements for the convention. INC-Forests4 was held 10-14 June 2013 in Warsaw, Poland.

The five-day session was attended by 140 participants, including delegates from 33 governments and the European Union (EU), and observers from the government of Japan and 19 regional and international organizations, producer associations and non-governmental organizations. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) serves as the Secretariat during sessions of INC-Forests, assisted by the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the Liaison Unit Madrid (LUM) of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (FOREST EUROPE).

INC-Forests4 revised most of the draft negotiating text for a convention on forests, including two annexes on arbitration and conciliation, and continued discussion of: arrangements for bringing the convention “under the UN umbrella”; possible financial and secretariat arrangements for the convention; and presentation of the results of INC-Forests to the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference tentatively scheduled for November 2013.

The session was unable to conclude its consideration of all issues and reach a final agreement, and consequently, late Friday evening, 14 June, INC-Forests4 was suspended. Under the mandate given to INC-Forests, the Fourth Session is to be the last negotiating session. Delegates therefore decided to reconvene INC-Forests4 for three days on dates and at a place to be announced, in order to complete key tasks before sending the results of INC-Forests to the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference. Outstanding issues to be considered at this resumed session are: decisions on the depositary/host for the convention; interim and permanent secretariat arrangements; adjustments to the final clauses that might be necessary following the choice of the depositary; and provisions on issues such as the admission of observers, the rules for the compliance committee and the right to vote. [IISD RS Coverage] [INC-Forests4 website] [INC-Forests4 Press Release]


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