The Georgetown Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) seminar commenced yesterday, under the theme: Sharing Regional Lesson on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Processes.
Jocelyn Dow, Chair of the Board of the Directors, Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) said she sees the seminar as an opportunity to bring experiences and aspirations together. She added that all states have common and differentiated responsibilities to sustainable development.
This, she said, has come from a long history of sustainable development negotiations. Dow explained that this can be taken as the marching orders, in terms of what the European Union (EU) attempts to do. This is in relation to illegal logging and in making sure that resources that are generated from nature arrive at their shores, with the best possible standards.
However, she said that the common and differentiated responsibility basis for negotiations has been a phrase hard won by developing countries. This she added is because some countries have not had the benefit of using their resources with an understanding of global guideline and parameters.
It was added that in the face of climate change, all countries have new responsibilities.
“This responsibility comes two-fold. It means those of us who have these very important resources now have to deal with them in a way that makes sense for our larger issues that have to do with our climate and the world we live in.
“Equally so those of us in the international arena, who have the financial and technical resources, they must make those available freely and readily so that we too can develop in a manner that is not hampered by our new agenda as global citizens.” Dow said.
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Natural Resource and the Environment, Joslyn McKenzie, said in the 2017 work programme, the Ministry sees the conclusion of VPA negotiation as a critical element towards the holistic development of the sector.
He added that in this regard the subject Minister had tasked the GFC Commissioner and Chair to do whatever it takes to facilitate the conclusion of the negotiation process. He added that this will aid in Guyana’s competitive position in the sector, moreover it will address the issues of those small and medium scale operators along the entire value chain of the sector.
The national technical working group is tasked with formulating the Guyana/EU FLEGT VPA. This was disclosed by the Commissioner of the GFC, James Singh. He added that over 85 % of Guyana’s land mass is covered with lush forest.
He explained that these forests are an integral part of the Guyana shield and the Amazon basin, noting that these forest an untapped reservoir of rich bio diversity. He added that the forests support the livelihood of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples and other Guyanese employed in the forestry, mining and other sectors.
The Commissioner added that indisputable evidence has shown that the centuries old utilization of Guyana forest has been done responsibly. This, he said, is demonstrated by Guyana’s annual rate of deforestation and forest degradation.
In 2014, deforestation and forest degradation was a mere 0.065, Singh said. “As a heavily forested country, optimization of benefits from our natural resources sector is needed for national development. However, as an environmentally conscious nation, we recognize that this must be in keeping with environmental and social economic best practices,” Singh explained.
Acting British High Commissioner, Ron Rimmer, said the government of Guyana places great importance as does the United Kingdom on the requirement of robust and effective management of forestry resources. This he said to ensure that this valuable resource is sustained and can contribute to the prevention of the further degradation of the earth’s fragile eco system.
Rimmer added that FLEGT is an EU project with global outreach and is very much an important part of Guyana’s efforts.
“The FLEGT VPA process will improve the approach to forest governance in Guyana, strengthen sustainable forest management and promote trade in legal timber, in both the domestic and international market,” Rimmer shared.
Head of the EU delegation in Guyana, Ambassador, Jernej Videtic, said the EU developed the FLEGT action plan to address the growing problem of illegal logging and its related treats. He added that it is important to highlight that the action plan aimed at particularly addressing three very important issues.
“These are to support governments reform in order to address many challenges; to contribute to capacity building in timber producing countries; and to help to work to reduce the trade of illegally harvested timber, not only in the EU, but ultimately in the major consumer market,” Videtic said.
It is expected that this event will help further raise the profile of Guyana’s VPA, while allowing stakeholders to learn from international technical experts. It also creates a forum for the discussion of current forestry issues in a public environment.
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