(IFFN No. 29 - April 2004)

With reference to the outcomes of the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) (Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002) an International Wildland Fire Summit was held in Sydney, Australia in October 2003 (immediately following the third International Wildland Fire Conference). The theme of the summit was “Fire Management and Sustainable Development: Strengthening International Cooperation to Reduce the Negative Impacts of Fire on Humanity and the Global Environment”.

The summit theme was selected to underscore the need to address the increasing vulnerability of ecosystems and human populations to uncontrolled wildland fires as well as the inappropriate or excessive application of fire in modifying vegetation cover. High priority was given to defining solutions and to enhancing international cooperation in the arena of wildland fire management.

The summit recognized that solutions must be based on practical and realizable approaches and instruments leading to common strategies, frameworks for implementation and financing mechanisms. Most crucial is the development of mechanisms that will result in concrete action, including both informal and formal agreements at the bilateral and international levels. The agreed “Strategy for Future Development of International Cooperation in Wildland Fire Management” provides a number of recommendations aimed at harmonization and standardization of approaches and enhanced international cooperation. Two of the summit’s outputs are particularly practical and ready for implementation:

A priority area of the ISDR Working Group on Wildland Fire was the establishment of the Global Wildland Fire Network, aimed at enhancing existing capabilities in fire monitoring, early warning and impact assessment, and facilitating international cooperation in fire management. The International Wildland Fire Summit endorsed the global network as a means of consolidating, developing and promoting the work of the Regional Wildland Fire Networks through active networking in information sharing, capacity building and preparation of bilateral and multilateral agreements. This process is facilitated through regional wildland fire conferences and consultations. On behalf of ISDR, GFMC is acting as the global network’s convener and secretariat, supporting the establishment of Regional Wildland Fire Networks and facilitating cooperative efforts with existing bodies, including FAO and others such as:

This special issue of IFFN contains the recommendations and strategic papers of the International Wildland Fire Summit. The delay in finalizing this issue was due to the fact that some of the Summit outputs had to be written and agreed in the months after October 2003.

In 2004 a series of the above-mentioned regional consultations will be held. The next issue will report on the outcomes of the follow-up process of the summit, notably on these regional consultations on cooperation in wildland fire management:

Meanwhile the readers of IFFN are encouraged to visit the website of the Global Wildland Fire Network for updated information: http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/GlobalNetworks/globalNet.html

Freiburg – Geneva, April 2004

Johann G. Goldammer

 IFFN No. 28 ]