Tropical Timber Organisation Launches New Sustainable Trade Initiatives

14 November 2008

Investments of some US$5.65 million towards new initiatives aimed at improving sustainable use of forest resources in tropical timber producing countries were announced at a 3-8 November meeting of the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) in Yokohama, Japan.

The proposed funding will be split into two separate initiatives. The first, a US$3.5 million programme, aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in pertinent countries. The second initiative will devote US$5.1 million towards projects and activities related to conservation, sustainable management, use, and trade of tropical forest resources.

This was the 44th session of the ITTO, which was established in 1986 under the auspices of the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The organisation operates under a framework – the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) – which is designed to allow tropical timber producing countries and tropical timber consuming countries to engage in dialogue on issues related to the sustainable management of timber trade and harvesting.

The ITTA has been revised several times over the years to reflect changes in the industry. However, differences among members have left the most recent Agreement, dating from January 2006, in a state of limbo. While the ITTO’s current membership includes 33 producer countries and 27 consumer countries – representing 90 percent of the tropical timber trade and 80 percent of the world’s tropical forests – only 10 producer and seven consumer members have made moves to ratify the 2006 Agreement.

The ITTO’s Council meets annually to discuss the organisation’s agenda for promoting sustainable trade and tropical forest management. The group announced that next year’s meeting would again take place in Yokohama from 9-14 November, followed by Guatemala City in 2010.

“US$8.6 Million in New Funds for Tropical Forests,” ITTO PRESS RELEASE, 8 November 2008; “Summary of the Forty-Fourth Session of the International Tropical Timber Council and Associated Sessions of the Four Committees: 3-8 November 2008,” EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN, 10 November 2008.

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