Information sessions on FLEGT progress and achievements
Tuesday 17 March, from 9:00 to 12:30
There has been significant progress under the EU FLEGT Action Plan on Voluntary Partnership Agreements, support to producer countries, public procurement policies, private sector initiatives and the EU Timber Regulation.
Progress on conflict timber and on finance and investment has lagged behind action on other aspects of the Action Plan.
Research by Chatham House indicates a slowing of progress on forest governance reforms.
The independent market monitoring baseline report highlighted changes in the global trade since the beginning of the Action Plan.
This session provided and overview of progress under each of the seven pillars of the EU FLEGT Action Plan.
Bernard Crabbé said the 15 countries implementing or negotiating VPAs account for:
- 25% or world's tropical timber cover
- 75% of global tropical timber trade
- 80% of the EU's tropical timber imports
Crabbé said it was remarkable that VPAs have gone beyond the initial ambition of 2003 to cover all export markets and, in most cases, domestic markets. Participation, transparency and legislative reforms are the norm. Civil society monitoring, governance reforms and legislative clarity are other key outcomes.
"Realizing an ambition takes time and sustained commitment," he said.
Crabbé also noted the challenges that need to be recognised as a first step to imrpove the implementation of the VPAs.
Support to producer countries
Bob Simpson emphasised that FLEGT is not an aid programme. Indeed, the Action Plan notes that external support is necessary for VPAs and other aspects of FLEGT. Simpson described the various ways financial and technical resources have been mobilised to complement those from timber producing partner countries, including by:
- EU, national, regional and thematic programmes
- Member States
- EU FLEGT Facility
- EU FAO FLEGT Programme
- Other multilateral such as World Bank's ENPI
Simpson explained how, collectively, these mechanisms support a variety of actions by stakeholders from national governments, NGOs and the private sector. Ultimately, support and support networks in any given country develop organically and in time can fit together to address forest governance in a holistic way
Public procurement policies
Duncan Brack described how public procurement policies in the EU have developed under the Action Plan:19 member states now have such policies. The evidence suggests that they are having a positive effect on increasing market share for verified legal and sustainable timber. Some of these policies recognise FLEGT licences as evidence of legality or legality and sustainability.
Brack said the spread of the EU Green Procurement Policy Programme, and growing commitments by private companies to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains are likely to encourage further uptake of procurement policies for sustainable timber.
Private sector initiatives
Nils Petersen described strong support for the EU Timber Regulation and VPAs among members of the European Timber Trade Federation. Actions taken by federation members include, on the import side:
- Partnering in the Timber Trade Action Plan
- Adopting voluntary codes of conduct and certification schemes
- Developing due diligence systems for EU Timber Regulation compliance
- Monitoring EU Timber Regulation impacts
- Being part of the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition
On the export side, federation members have:
- Analysed legality gaps in important supply chains
- Imposed EU Timber Regulation requirements on suppliers
- Supported capacity building initiatives, such as those for small and medium sized enterprises in Africa
Finance and investment
Mark Gregory explained that, compared to other aspects of the Action Plan, there has been less action on financial and investment provisions. European financial institutions do take environmental and social issues more seriously, he said. However, FLEGT is just one of several factors driving reform and the implementation of due diligence has often been poor.
Gregory said the EU should be given credit for initiatives such as the Transparency and Accounting Directives and Non-Financial Disclosure Directive. However, he said efforts to tackle money laundering had limited success and Export Credit Agencies had limited relevance. Nonetheless, Gregory sees false starts not as failures but as useful learning experiences that can help banks and investors understand how to address their role in forest destruction. "Giving up is not the solution".
EU Timber Regulation
Thorsten Hinrichs explained progress and gaps in implementing the EU Timber Regulation. He said awareness among operators is steadily rising. Competent authorities are cooperating well with each other. There is a good approach on common interpretation and some innovative control tools for timber and timber products. However, there are challenges in some member states that have limited staff in their competent authorities.
The European Commission is working to promote uniform implementation. Reports due from member states in April 2015 will highlight differences in control quotas, sanctions and other elements. It was also mentioned that the product-scope needs to be broadened.
Rune Henriksen said there was limited progress on conflict timber under the Action Plan, but that the European Commission and some member states had undertaken some related activities. These included:
- Supporting the UN Security Council resolution banning timber imports from Liberia
- Activities related to rights to forests of local and indigenous communities – not directly related to conflict timber, but conflicts on resource rights
- DG Relex / European Council work on natural resources and conflict in DRC, Liberia and Myanmar
Henriksen described how multilateral cooperation can address conflict timber, drawing from examples of Project Leaf and International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime. He emphasised that transnational criminal networks are professional, connected and ruthless. He said they won't be stopped by agreements and intentions or certification schemes alone. When wood products come to Europe, more often than not in the form of paper and pulp, it is too late. He recommends a comprehensive approach to law enforcement and close collaboration among in-country agencies.
Alison Hoare said that several countries have made significant progress with forest governance reform and efforts to tackle illegal logging. She said the main factors undermining effective reform are:
- Widespread corruption
- Insufficient priority being given to the small-scale forest sector
- Impacts of other land-use sectors on forests
She recommended that these factors be given greater priority if FLEGT is to succeed in bringing about significant reductions in illegal logging in the coming years. However Hoare highlighted that: "We need to hang on with FLEGT. We would be in far worse situation without it."
Independent market monitoring (IMM)
Rupert Oliver summarized the work undertaken to develop the IMM methodology and organisation for regular market monitoring, as well as outputs expected in 2015. He explained that there is an IMM-EFI project to develop an online database of world trade flows. This will greatly boost access to high-quality statistics for regular market monitoring.
Oliver said the IMM Baseline report demonstrates:
- The positions of VPA countries in the international timber trade and their market share in the EU
- Factors driving changes in trade between VPA countries and the EU over the past decade.
The report demonstrates the pivotal role of the VPA countries in the EU and wider international trade, and highlights the market opportunities resulting from engagement in VPA processes.
- The 15 countries that are implementing or negotiating VPAs represent a large proportion of the global tropical timber trade.
- There are various complementary sources of financial and technical support to government, civil society and private sector stakeholders in timber-producing countries
- 19 EU member states now have a timber procurement policy.
- There is a strong support for FLEGT among members of the European Timber Trade Federation who have taken action on both the import and export side.
- Banks and investors are still in the early stages of understanding how to address their role in FLEGT.
- The awareness of operators of the EU Timber Regulation is steadily rising and the European Commission is working closely together with Member States to reach high levels of uniform implementation.
- There has been little progress on conflict timber under the EU FLEGT Action Plan and a comprehensive approach to law enforcement and close collaboration among in-country agencies is recommended.
- Since 2000, there has been significant progress on governance and reductions in illegal logging, but the pace of progress has slowed: To enhance progress priority should be given to fighting spread corruption, addressing the needs of small scale operators and addressing the impacts of other land use sectors on forests.
- The IMM baseline report demonstrates the pivotal role of the VPA countries in the EU and wider international trade and highlights the market opportunities resulting from engagement in the VPA process.
Moderator Hans Stielstra, Head of Global Sustainability, Trade and Multilateral Agreements, DG Environment, European Commission
- Bernard Crabbé, Team Leader Forestry Sector, DG International Cooperation and Development, European Commission
- Robert Simpson, EU FAO FLEGT Programme
- Duncan Brack, consultant
- Nils Petersen, GD Holtz, German Timber Trade Federation
- Mark Gregory, FERN
- Thorsten Hinrichs, Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany
- Rune Henriksen, Project LEAF
- Alison Hoare, Senior Research Fellow, Energy, Envrionment and Resources Department, Chatham House
- Rupert Oliver, Lead Consultant for IMM, International Tropical Timber Federation
Reporter Marketta Juppi, EU FLEGT Facility and Michela Tagliaferri, European Commission
Keywords Progress in the EU FLEGT Action Plan elements, initial impacts