The 52nd session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-52) moved to restore confidence in the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
It adopted decisions on the selection of an ITTO Executive Director and on budget measures, transparency, a new finance governance architecture and related administrative rule changes to address the funds impairment announced at ITTC-51.
12 November 2016: The 52nd session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-52) moved to restore confidence in the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) by adopting decisions on the selection of an ITTO Executive Director (ED), budget measures, transparency, a finance governance architecture and related administrative rule changes to address the funds impairment announced at ITTC-51.
ITTC-52 and the Associated Sessions of its four Committees met in Yokohama, Japan, from 7-12 November 2016.
A major focus of ITTC-52 was the selection of a new ED, since ITTC-50 and ITTC-51 had failed to agree on a candidate. During the week, ITTC-52 considered six candidates from Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sweden and the US. At the end of the session, the Council selected by acclamation Gerhard Dieterle (Germany). Dieterle, who is to take up his position early in 2017, currently is Program Manager for the Forest Investment Program (FIP) and the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) at the World Bank. In his campaign speech to ITTC-52, he called for ITTO to make the case that forest use does not threaten biodiversity conservation. He said forests’ key role in economic growth and conservation should unlock new financial resources for scaling up sustainable forest management (SFM) and sustainable value chains. Upon his appointment, Dieterle pledged to work to ensure ITTO’s strength and growth, and to nurture partnership between producer and consumer countries.
ITTC-52 also addressed the US$18 million fund impairment announced at ITTC-51 in November 2015. The Council extended the current Biennial Work Programme (BWP) by one year while urging members to consider making additional resources available through voluntary contributions or in-kind resources. It also adopted guidelines for the ED to apply to projects and activities pledged before ITTC-51 in addressing the financial shortfall. To ensure that such a shortfall never happens again, ITTC-52 revised ITTO Financial Rules and Procedures, created an Investment Oversight Panel and new Investment Policy, gave the Committee on Finance and Administration (CFA) more oversight power, adopted new auditing standards, as well as new reporting, procurement and tender procedures, revised the Staff Rules and Regulations and adopted new standards of conduct for the ED.
As a vote of confidence in the reforms adopted, the US announced US$845,000 in voluntary pledges to the ITTO Fellowship Programme and other work, while Japan said it will release US$2.6 million in voluntary funds once the reforms are implemented.
As a vote of confidence in these reforms, the US announced US$845,000 in voluntary pledges to the ITTO Fellowship Programme, as well as ITTO work on, inter alia, cooperation with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), criteria and indicators, gender equity guidelines, mangrove forests and ecosystems, and stakeholder engagement. Japan said it will release US$2.6 million in voluntary funds once the reforms are implemented.
In an ITTC-52 decision on projects, pre-projects and activities, Council authorized financing for immediate implementation of a project on SFM in Ecuador, 11 projects and pre-projects approved during 2016 that were pending full or partial financing, ten projects approved in earlier project cycles or through Council decisions, ten activities in the BWP 2015-2016, and an activity on timber legality legislation.
Another ITTC-52 decision established an intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group to consider rotation in the framework of the selection of the ED, namely whether and how the ED position might be rotated between producer and consumer member countries. The Working Group will be comprised of experts serving in their personal capacity, and must present the results of its work to ITTC-53.
In other work, ITTC-52: approved the Guidelines for Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts Assessment in ITTO Projects (ESIA Guidelines), to be used on a pilot basis in elaborating ITTO projects until the ITTO project manuals can be updated to reflect them; discussed ITTO’s ongoing cooperation with CITES, developments regarding forests in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the work of the ITTO/Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Collaborative Initiative; held the Annual Market Discussion under the theme ‘Free Trade Agreements: Challenges and Opportunities for Tropical Timber’; and agreed to hold ITTC-53 in Lima, Peru from 27 November to 2 December 2017. [ITTO Press Release] [ITTC-52 Documents] [IISD-RS Coverage of ITTC-52] [IISD SDG Knowledge Hub Stories on ITTO]