All talk, no action

Published: Thursday 31 October 1996

the two-week un meeting on global forests, which ended recently at Geneva, remained inconclusive as a formal accord on how to combat the world's shrinking forests continued to be elusive. It was the third meeting of the un Inter-governmental Panel on Forests. The panel was set up after the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil.

Criticising the meet, Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud of the World Wide Fund for Nature said, "It has been a two-year talking shop. And we feel the period for talking about the issue should have long been over." Added John Spears, director, World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development, an independent group, "They started out with some high hopes, but they have been emasculated."

In defense, the panel members state that opposition from national governments for a formal pact was a major reason. Huge sums of money are also involved in the trade of forest produce.

The panel is also against imposing a mandatory control on governments on sales of timber. "The way forward is voluntary adoption of standards," panel co-chairperson Martin Holdgate remarked.

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