The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) is an intergovernmental organisation for promoting the sustainable management and conservation of tropical forests and trade in tropical forest resources including improved market intelligence. It began operations in late 1986 and its headquarters are located in Yokohama, Japan. Its members manage about 80 per cent of the world's tropical forests and are responsible for 90 per cent of the global tropical timber trade.
The ITTO facilitates funding for forestry projects in tropical timber producing countries. These projects include activities in forest management, reforestation, forest industry and markets. Since its inception, the ITTO has provided funding for over $US300 million in forestry projects.
The ITTO was established under the International Tropical Timber Agreement 1983 (ITTA 1983), negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The ITTA 1983 came into force on 1 April 1985. Since then, the ITTA has seen several iterations agreed to in 1994 and 2006. ITTA 2006 came into force on 7 December 2011 and governs the current actions of the ITTO.
Australia has been a member of the ITTO since 1988. Australia participates in the work of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC), the representative body of all ITTO members, and ITTO committees. The Committees recommend projects and the ITTO budget and biennial work plan activities to the Council. Australia has been a regular donor of funding for ITTO projects.
The ITTA 2006 has two overarching objectives: to promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests and to promote the sustainable management of tropical timber producing forests.
The ITTA 2006 provided for the establishment of Thematic Programs which are designed to generate increased project funding focused on areas of strategic importance. Thematic Programs established by the ITTC are:
- Forest law enforcement, governance and trade
- Community forest management and enterprises
- Trade and market transparency
- Industry development and efficiency
- Reducing deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing environmental services in tropical forests.
The objectives of the ITTA 2006 are compatible with the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forest agreed by the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2007.
The ITTO works closely with a number of international organisations and processes including Food and Agriculture Organization, the Convention on Biodiversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The ITTO is a member of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and has been an observer organisation at meetings of the UNFF, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has participated in meetings of the Montréal Process.
The ITTC sessions are held annually, alternating between an elected host country and ITTO’s Yokohama headquarters.