Ms Sheam Satkuru appointed as ITTO’s new Executive Director


ITTO’s governing body, the International Tropical Timber Council, appointed Ms Sheam Satkuru by consensus as ITTO’s new Executive Director at its 57th session, which was held virtually from 19 November to 3 December 2021. She won the position from among nearly 50 applicants.

ATIBT warmly congratulates Sheam Satkuru for this nomination.

Ms Sheam Satkuru, ITTO’s newly appointed Executive Director. Photo: IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin

Ms Satkuru, a citizen of Malaysia, was the Malaysian Timber Council’s Regional Director for Europe between 2007 and 2017, and she has been Director of Operations at ITTO since 2017.

Ms Satkuru is a specialist in international trade, with strong skills and experience in legal and policy analysis related to international affairs, the timber and forest industries, communications, public affairs and outreach. She is also a skilled and experienced international negotiator. She holds a master’s degree in law from Kings College at the University of London and was called to the English Bar in 1993.

Ms Satkuru was one of three shortlisted candidates for the position of Executive Director; in her accepting the appointment, she highlighted the principle of consensus as one of ITTO’s strongest features.

“ITTO begins yet another new chapter in its long journey of adventures,” she said. “As the first woman to be appointed as the Organization’s Executive Director, I applaud all members of the International Tropical Timber Council for the consultative and collaborative spirit they have shown. To all, I pledge to take ITTO’s interests forward in a fair, balanced and equitable manner for all its members.”

Council Chair Mr Kheiruddin Rani and members offered their warm congratulations to Ms Satkuru for her appointment. Ms Satkuru will take up her new position in early 2022.

Civil Society Advisory Group proposes paper on how ITTO can address climate change

In a statement on day 5 of the Council session, delivered on behalf of the Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) by its chair, Mr Chen Hin Keong, CSAG recommended that ITTO commission a paper to outline how ITTO members, as well as the Secretariat, the private sector, the Trade Advisory Group, civil society and CSAG can contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change in concrete ways.

“Forests were and are still being poorly managed, their resources over-exploited and are being lost,” according to the statement. “How can ITTO members work towards actions to implement the many relevant Guidelines, policies, and reports produced over the years? The paper can outline how each stakeholder can do this.”

The CSAG statement also said that the sustainable and responsible use of forest resources and tackling illegal and unsustainable use must be an integral part of COVID-19 recovery strategies if the world is to “build back better” towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

“Jobs, revenue, livelihood, cultural integrity and sustainability of the resource and supply should not be looked at in isolation,” according to the statement. “The critical challenge should not only be focused on technical forestry aspects; we cannot leave the problems of SFM to the foresters and technicians at the forest level.”

The CSAG statement also reiterated its call for the Annual Market Discussion (AMD) to be a joint session between the Trade Advisory Group and CSAG. Currently, according to the statement, AMD panellists tend to be business oriented, “while we know business and markets do not work in isolation from health, conservation, sustainability, livelihood, IPLCs [Indigenous Peoples and local communities], etc. CSAG brings our expertise and knowledge that can enhance the knowledge sharing and recommendations from such a platform to Council.”

The full text of the CSAG statement is available here.

USD 3.8 million pledged for ITTO work

Council members announced contributions in 2021 (including those made intersessionally) totalling USD 3.77 million to support the Organization’s work. Of this, the Republic of Korea contributed USD 1.11 million, Japan USD 848 000, the United States of America USD 555 000, the CITES Secretariat USD 376 000, Bruno Manser Fonds USD 200 000, the City of Basel USD 200 000, China USD 100 000, FAO USD 167 000, Soka Gakkai USD 89 600, the Precious Forests Foundation USD 11 000 and Kisso-an USD 1720; USD 116 000 was also made available from existing funds within the Organization.1

Among other things, these funds will support efforts to increase the competitiveness of commercial reforestation in Costa Rica; women’s groups in two prefectures in Togo to restore degraded forest landscapes; ITTO’s role in the CITES Tree Species Programme; the secondment of an officer from the Korea Forest Service to the ITTO Secretariat; and the promotion of sustainable domestic wood consumption in Viet Nam. Some projects and activities received partial funding and will commence should the balance of funding be forthcoming.2

Also on day 5, the Council adopted seven decisions by consensus, which are detailed here.

The Council will convene its Fifty-eighth session on 7–12 November 2022 in Yokohama, Japan. It elected Mr Jesse Mahoney (Australia) and Mr Nurudeen Iddrisu (Ghana) as its next Chair and Vice-chair, respectively.

The International Tropical Timber Council meets at least once a year to discuss a wide-ranging agenda aimed at promoting sustainable tropical forest management and the trade of sustainably produced tropical timber.

Daily coverage of the session by IISD reporting services is available at


[1] Amounts are not necessarily exact.

[2]  The full list of activities receiving voluntary contributions is contained in Decision 1 of the session (expected to be posted on the ITTO website by mid-December).