Address by Mr. Eisuke Hinode,
Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan
at the 33rd International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC)

November 4, 2002

Dr. Jungen Blaser, Chairman of the Council,
His Excellency Mr. Jose Carlos Carvalho, Minister of Environment of Brazil,
His Excellency Mr. Oben Tanyi Mbianyor, Minister of Forest and Environment of Cameroon,
His Excellency Mr. Hiroshi Nakada, Mayor of the City of Yokohama,
His Excellency Dr. Manoel Sobral Filho, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO),
Distinguished Representatives and Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the host government, it is a great pleasure for me to address this opening session of the 33rd International Tropical Timber Council.

First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to all of you who have assembled here. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to dignitaries who have graced this session with their presence.

Mr. Chairman,
The ITTO is the sole inter-governmental organization dealing with timber and Japan highly appreciates its activities. I am pleased to note that the ITTO activities were highly acknowledged during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg last August.

As you know, forests bear great importance in wide-ranged areas. For example, massive heavy rains hit central and east part of Europe last August and caused severe damage in many countries. In relation to water disasters, forests can alleviate not only flood but also drought. With a view to addressing water resource management, Japan will host the Third World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference in Kyoto in March 2003. I hope that the ITTO will participate in this meeting, providing useful input into this meeting.

Mr. Chairman,
In order for the ITTO to continuously respond to challenges in international forest scene, we have many things to do at this Council session. In particular, I would like to call your attention to three points which Japan thinks crucial.

First, I would like to touch upon the schedule of renegotiation of the successor agreement to the current ITTA. As you are aware, in view of expiration of the current ITTA at the end of 2006, time frame of consultation process of the successor agreement will be discussed during this Council session. Since its establishment, the ITTO has consistently tackled various issues including criteria and indicators and guidelines for sustainable forest management, promotion of further processing of tropical timber and compilation of trade data and statistics. In addition, the ITTO has positively responded to new challenges including illegal logging, on which much more attention is focused recently, conservation of mangroves and transboundary forest conservation.

Furthermore, in recent years, we have witnessed new developments related to forests such as the establishment of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and discussion on sustainable forest management at the WSSD. In this context, Japan holds the view that the members should start the renegotiation as soon as possible, in early 2003, to make thorough consideration of the future of the ITTO, taking into account its achievements and new developments in international forest arena.

Mr. Chairman,
Second, I would like to stress the necessity of stricter project management and more efficient project implementation and achievement of its objective. Since the establishment of the ITTO, Japan has actively supported its activities, as the top donor. However, Japan is currently suffering from the prolonged financial difficulties. In order to make full use of the limited financial resources, Japan hopes that the ITTO will improve project management to ensure stricter management, more efficient implementation and steadier achievement of project objective .

Based on this idea, Japan will give high priority to projects which are expected to bring maximum results in a short time. Regarding the evaluation of a completed project, Japan will attach importance to its compliance with the original plan including the project duration and the degree of achievement of the initial plan.

In addition, with a view to diversifying the financial sources, I would like to encourage all member countries to extend further financial contribution to the ITTO's projects and activities.

Mr. Chairman,
Third, I would like to call your attention to the issue of new ways of cooperation with civil society organizations including NGOs. With a view to responding to the global forest agenda, Japan encourages the ITTO to develop its relationship with potential partners who share common interests. In this context, I would like to stress the importance of establishing constructive and cooperative relationship with voluntary activities of the civil society organizations including NGOs, which are expected to play substantial global role in the 21st century.

I know that matters relating to the future of the ITTO are going to be discussed during this Session. In considering ITTO's future with negotiation and amendment of current agreement in mind, I hope that we will have intensive discussions on the ways to promote ITTO's cooperation with the civil society organizations including NGOs.

In this connection, I would like to inform you that the First Meeting for the Promotion of "Asia Forest Partnership (AFP)," which the Government of Japan is advocating jointly with the Government of Indonesia, will be held in Tokyo on November 11.

Mr. Chairman,
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to pay my respect to the dedication made by the Executive Director and his staff members of the ITTO to prepare for this session. I would also like to express my gratitude to the City of Yokohama which extends valuable support to the ITTO's activities. The Yokohama City has been assisting the ITTO including contributing the expenses of holding Council sessions.

I would like to conclude my speech by wishing this Council session a fruitful success, bringing the ITTO further prosperity.

Thank you.

WSSD (Sustainable Forest Management in the Tropics)WSSD (Sustainable Forest Management in the Tropics)

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