Major Groups Call on Governments for Urgent Action


New York, April 23 – Major Groups took the lead on a multi-stakeholder

dialogue at the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) 7th Session being

held in New York and called on Governments to undertake immediate action on

behalf of civil society. They told the UNFF that the status quo is

unacceptable and expressed alarm at the unprecedented rate of forest

disappearance which is having tremendous impacts on people and the

environment. They said that it is time to move the dialogue to action and

called for a member country to host a Major Group-led initiative in 2008

that would allow more substantial discussion on Major Groups’ engagement in

the multi-year programme of work (MYPOW). Nations are convened at the UN

Headquarters to discuss a non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types


of forests and the MYPOW for the period 2007-2015.




Breaking with tradition, the Major Groups worked in partnership with the

Forum’s chairman to encourage a better dialogue. Hans Hoogeven, UNFF

Chairman, and Lorraine Rekmans, Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group, jointly

facilitated the discussion. Rekmans noted that Major Groups, as

representatives of civil society, are participating in the UNFF, are

contributing time and resources, and want definitive and immediate action.




While the Major Groups were poised as partners, the NLBI has been mostly

silent on their involvement, Rekmans said. By contrast, certain parts of

that text referred specifically to partnerships. If that partnership were to


be looked upon as a marriage, then the major groups were indeed the

neglected wife but that they intended to reconcile the relationship in a

positive way. Major Groups were calling for innovative approaches to enhance


stakeholder engagement in policy deliberations and in implementation of

sustainable forest management (SFM) at all levels.




Representatives of the following Major Groups addressed today’s meeting:

Indigenous Peoples, Business and Industry, Non-Governmental Organizations,

Farmers and Small Forest Landowners, Science and Technology, Children and

Youth, and Women. The dialogue focused on three major themes: participation

by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, private sector investment in

SFM, and Major Group involvement in the implementation of the multi-year

programme of work.




The Indigenous Peoples Major Group noted that many indigenous groups had a

distinct legal status within their Member States which made it difficult for


them to work legally when some States refused to recognize them. The

distinctiveness of indigenous people must be recognized in NLBI. Indigenous

peoples are intimately connected to the land—many of them are forest people

and their survival depends crucially on their knowledge of the natural





The Business and Industry Major Group said companies stress the importance

of the Forum and the important role that the private sector could play in

funding and supporting sustainable forest management. Some countries are

supporting much of the science that has led to the development of

plantations and have major mutually beneficial international research

projects. Delegates were told to look at public-private sector development.

Some countries have gone a long way on certification, which has been very

important in supporting markets in both domestic and export forestry.

Business highlighted the need to stop illegal logging.




The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Major Group said that new

decision-making processes are needed; otherwise the same decision makers

would continue to make decide how new money will be spent. NGOs want

expanded involvement of the Major Groups. UNFF needs a different focus for

the different elements of the private sector. Greater application and

enforcement of existing laws must be directed at industry to help with SFM

and provide a level playing field for business. Action on illegal logging

has been woefully inadequate. NGOs will continue to work with industry and

focus on Forest Stewardship Council certification schemes that require civil


society and Major Group involvement. Governments should assist by mandating

some form of certification.




The Farmers and Small Landowners Major Group noted that, while some initial

incentives are important, in the long run, SFM would be able to take care of


itself without subsidies. Certification was a market-led initiative and

should remain so; however, some government involvement in certification

schemes is critical. Forest owners have also developed certification schemes


and there are also many examples of mutually supportive public-private

partnerships. In terms of the NLBI, partnerships often lack the recognition

and resources for effective implementation. It is crucial to have a

mechanism that allows for effective recognition of public-private





The Science and Technology Major Group said the portfolio approach recently

introduced in a paper by the World Bank is an interesting proposal. It

discusses the possibility of public-private partnership and new and

different obligations and responsibilities for both receiving and investing

partners. Forestry activities in developing countries generated much

enthusiasm in the 1960s as it was thought that private investment would

provide funds needed for expanding the forest sector in developing

countries. That great hope has vanished. The new private sector contracts

embedded in the portfolio approach need to be looked at critically to assess


its potentials and pitfalls. It is also necessary to see how science and

technology can come into play with the private sector providing its own

scientific and technological knowledge. Another issue was ensuring the

capacity of the people to build upon initiatives after private investment





The Children and Youth Major Group emphasized the need for real commitment

to SFM. They said that the UNFF will be a success if both Governments and

society can look each other in the eyes and believe that global

implementation of SFM has started. A strong NLBI must demonstrate how global


objectives on forests could be reached and what resources are available to

that end. Major Groups must be involved in the instrument’s development,

implementation and evaluation.




The Women’s Major Group said transparency is essential when contracts are

being prepared between the private sector and local communities. Mechanisms

must be shaped to ensure an equitable distribution of resources, especially

when there are agreements with those who are unable to read, write or

negotiate in their own interests. They said the UNFF will be successful if

it finds ways to bring about community-level action and solutions. A

partnership for action towards expanded participation by Major Groups would

allow them to raise the concerns of women and other marginalized groups,

particularly about land tenure and other key topics, while providing

innovative ideas and experiences. A specific proposal was presented for

funding a pilot programme to demonstrate innovative ways to work

collaboratively together, thus demonstrating to Governments the value of

working with Major Groups.






For more information please contact the following;






Children and Youth



Ms. Johanna Gleißner and Mr. Pieter van Midwoud


International Forestry Students' Association


Tennenbacher Str. 4, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany


Tel: +49 761 203 3801 Fax: +49 761 203 3819


Email: /




Mr. Pierre Andipatin, Global Youth Network


P.O. Box 5968, Durban 4000, KZN, South Africa


Tel: +27-31-577-1228 Fax: +27-31-577-5825






Susan Morre


International Forestry Students’ Association


College of Forestry International Programs


Oregon State University


109A Richardson Hall


Corvallis, Oregon 97333






Mr. Xavier Ndona Makusa, Initiatives-Jeunes






Forest Business and Industry



International Council of Forest Product Associations


Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC)


Suite 410–99 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario,


K1P 6B9 Canada


Tel: + 1 613 563-1441 Fax: +1 613 563-4720




Forest Workers and Trade Unions




Mr. Bob Ramsay


Building and Wood Workers' International


Global Wood and Forestry Programme


54, route des Acacias; CH-1227


Carouge Geneva, Switzerland


Tel: +41 22 8273776 Fax: +41 22 8273770






Mr. Paul Opanga, Project Coordinator


Building and Wood Workers' International


PO Bxo 40658, Nairobi, Kenya


Tel/Fax: +254-20-3751319






Indigenous Peoples



Mr. Hubertus Samangun, International Alliance of


Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropics


Jalan Setia Kawan Raya No. 39 – 41, Jakarta Pusat 10140


Tel: +62 21 632 7559 Fax: + 62 21 632 6425






Non-Governmental Organizations



Dr. Andrei Laletin, Friends of Siberian Forests


PO Box 26779 Krasnoyarsk-36, 660036 Russia


Tel: (7) 3912 498404 Fax: (7) 3912 498404






Non-Governmental Organizations (continued)



Mr. Cliff Wallis


Friends of the Oldman River


615 Deercroft Way SE


Calgary, AB T2J5V4 CANADA


Tel: 1 403 2711408






Private Forest Landowners


Ms. Birte Schmetjen


Confédération Européenne des


Propriétaires Forestiers (CEPF)


Rue du Luxembourg 66 1000 Bruxelles


Tel: +32 2 2190231 Fax: +32 2 2192191






Ms. Marike Michel, Global Alliance for Community




De Pizza Hut, los Colegios, 50mts Sur y 50 Noreste,


Moravia, Costa Rica


Tel: +52 55 55 50 61 87






Scientific and Technological Community





c/o FAO Regional Office for Africa


Box 1628 Accra, Ghana


Tel: +233 21 675 000 ext.3195 Fax: +233 21 668 427






Mr. Sim Heok-Choh, Asia Pacific Association of Forestry


Research Institutions, c/o Forest Research Institute




Kepong, 52109 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Fax: +60 3 6277 3249









Ms. Jeannette D. Gurung, PhD, Director


Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural


Resource Management


26 Beckett Way, Ithaca, NY 14850, United States


Tel/ Fax: +1 607 319 0347






Ms. Alice Akinyi Kaudia, PhD, IUCN- The World


Conservation Union


P. O. Box 68200-00200 Nairobi, Kenya


Tel: +254 (20) 890605 -12 Fax: +254 (20) 890615






Ms. Kanchan Lama, Director


Society for Partners in Development


GPO Box 8975 EPC 5181, Kathmandu, Nepal


Tel: +977 1 552 1501