Oct 12, 2016 News
Guyana is making grounds when it comes to putting systems into place to support the legal trade in timber.
Last month, a regional seminar- “Sharing Regional Lessons on FLEGT VPA processes: Transitioning from Negotiations to Implementation”- was held over two days from September 28, last, at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana.
This seminar was convened to share experiences and lessons learned around the processes of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with the European Union (EU) under the auspices of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.
The FLEGT Action Plan was developed in response to the problem of illegal logging and trade in associated timber products.
Approximately, 90 persons participated in the event, among them Guyanese resource persons from civil society, the different scales of forest sector operators, the NGO community including Indigenous organizations, academia and Government agencies; and international participants from Suriname, Honduras, Guatemala, Liberia, Ghana and the EU.
The regional FLEGT seminar allowed for the interactive exchange of experiences and lessons learnt from countries now in the implementation phase of their VPAs.
According to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), the meeting was provided with an update on the implementation of the VPA in Indonesia, which highlighted its success in being the first country in the world to issue FLEGT licensed timber that will enter the European market this November.
Whilst it was appreciated that Guyana has done significant work in these areas, there were useful suggestions from working groups on how the effectiveness of these processes may be further improved.
Deliberating on the role of Guyana’s indigenous people during the VPA implementation, representatives noted the extensive engagements done but reemphasized the need for the active engagement of indigenous groups in every stage of the deliberations while applying the principle of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC).
A special call was made by some participants to further integrate the rights of indigenous peoples into the negotiations of the FLEGT VPA between Guyana and the EU.
The seminar participants recognized that there was a need for more discussion on this topic, and possibly channel non-VPA related issues to other relevant fora.
At the conclusion of the seminar, the Chairperson of the GFC, Jocelyn Dow, noted that whilst this process may not be the forum to resolve all issues, one output of this seminar must be a formalized public process where these issues are acknowledged and forwarded to the relevant body for further deliberation.
There was a broad consensus that this seminar provided a good platform to share experiences, as well as a transparent setting where participants could speak freely. It was recommended that there should be other such engagements on a regular basis.
Guyana’s VPA process traced its commencement in 2012 with the formation of a National Technical Working Group followed by consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and the subsequent development of a road map.
Four negotiations with the EU have since been held – in Guyana in 2012, 2015, and 2016 and in Brussels in 2013.
This seminar is the second such event to be held in Guyana; the first was in 2014. The event was organized by the National Technical Working Group and the FLEGT Facilitation Support Office in collaboration with other partners (APA, EFI, FAO, Iwokrama and IUCN).
Inspired by the illegal logging update and stakeholder consultation meetings hosted by The Royal Institute for International Affairs Chatham House in London, Palladium (which acquired the IDL group in 2013), a series of global experience sharing seminars and conference events was launched in 2011.
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