Opening remark by Mr. Osamu UNO, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, at the 43rd International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC)

Vice-Minister UNO

November 5, 2007
Yokohama, Japan

Mr. Chairperson,
Honorable Ministers,
Honorable Mayor,
Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization,
Distinguished Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to address at this opening session of the 43rd International Tropical Timber Council. On behalf of the host Government, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to you all.

First of all, let me congratulate the new Executive Director, Mr. Ze Meka, for his assumption of the duties. Under the able leadership of the new Executive Director, I am confident ITTO will strive for further development and success.

Mr. Chairperson,

The international situation of the ITTO and tropical forests is changing rapidly. Obviously, one of the biggest challenges of today is climate change, which requires immediate action by the international community. In this context, functions and benefits of the sustainably managed forests have gathered considerable attention of the world. Just to mention an example, the APEC Summit meeting in Sydney, September this year, adopted the APEC Leaders' Declaration on Climate Change where the importance of the sustainable forest management was mentioned. Next year there will be a series of important international conferences to be held in Japan. Japan hosts the G8 Summit in Toyako, Hokkaido. Environmental issues including climate change will be one of the main topics at the Summit. Prior to the G8 Summit, Japan will host the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) next May here in the City of Yokohama, where environmental issues including forestry will be one of the priorities as well. Under these circumstances, I strongly hope that the ITTO will actively contribute and give valuable inputs to these various processes, by making full use of its expertise and experiences in the area of the sustainable management of tropical forests.

Mr. Chairperson,

The ITTO itself is now in transition. So far, 4 countries, namely Switzerland, USA, Japan and Malaysia, have concluded the new Agreement. As the host country of the Organization, Japan would like to urge other member countries to conclude the new Agreement as soon as possible so that it would enter into force in February 2008 as expected.

In order for the ITTO to continuously respond to challenges including illegal logging in the international forest scene under the new Agreement, I would like to draw your attention to the following points:

  • First, one of the strengths of the ITTO is the implementation of concrete projects. Japan has strongly supported the ITTO activities as a top donor since its establishment, in spite of severe financial difficulties in recent years. Japan highly appreciates that a new measure to expand donor community was introduced in the new Agreement. Thus I would like to take this opportunity to call on all member countries for further financial contribution.
  • Second, I would like to point out that it is very important for the ITTO to implement its projects effectively and efficiently and to achieve its objectives in a steadily manner in order to increase its reliability and openness.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to pay my tribute to the efforts made by the ITTO Secretariat to prepare for this session. I would also like to express my sincere gratefulness to Mr. Nakada, the Honorable Mayor of the City of Yokohama and his staff who have been extending valuable and continuous support to the Organization.

I would like to conclude my brief remark by wishing a great success in the current Council session and the further development of the ITTO.

Thank you.

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