New faces for the FOREST EUROPE chairmanship and its General Coordinating Committee
The 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference, Madrid 20-21 October 2015, marked the end of Spain‚Äôs 4-year period as chairman of FOREST EUROPE.
The chairmanship of the process was taken over at the Madrid conference by the Slovak Republic, which will host the next FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference. The Slovak Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr ńĹubom√≠r Jahn√°tek, co-chair at the Ministerial Conference in Madrid, reiterated during the meeting the Slovak Republic‚Äôs commitment to the FOREST EUROPE process and declared themselves ‚Äúfully aware of the responsibility we have for the FOREST EUROPE process in the years to come‚ÄĚ.
At the ministerial meeting, changes also took place in the FOREST EUROPE General Coordinating Committee (GCC). Norway left the GCC after 17 years, having joined it in 1998 at the 3rd Ministerial Conference in Lisbon, and was replaced by Sweden.
Mr. Sven-Erik Bucht, Swedish Minister of Rural Affairs, expressed the great honour it was to join the FOREST EUROPE GCC, and stated that they ‚Äúwill work together with the rest of the ministers for the best of cooperation, for the best of forests‚ÄĚ.
Ms Hanne Maren Bl√•fjelldal, State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, said that, ‚ÄúSweden will bring new energy to the GCC and the FOREST EUROPE work‚ÄĚ, and stated that, even if Norway is leaving the Committee, they are ‚Äústill committed to FOREST EUROPE and looking forward to cooperating in the years to come‚ÄĚ.
The GCC coordinates the work of FOREST EUROPE. It is currently composed of representatives from 5 of the FOREST EUROPE signatory countries: Spain, Slovak Republic, Germany, Turkey and (now) Sweden. Membership of the Committee is on a voluntary basis and is regionally balanced. It is the financing body of the FOREST EUROPE process, the FOREST EUROPE Liaison Unit and its activities.
Following the change of the chairmanship, the Liaison Unit will be transferred from Madrid to Bratislava with the change of the year.
Taking advantage of the ministerial meeting in Madrid, a meeting took place between the teams of the current FOREST EUROPE secretariat (Liaison Unit Madrid) and the team that will replace them in the near future (Liaison Unit Bratislava). This meeting served to start the process of a smooth transfer of the FOREST EUROPE secretariat that will take place in January 2016.