Support for the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan
Title: Support for the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Côte d’Ivoire
Lead executing agency: Ministère des Eaux et Forêts de Cote d'Ivoire (Ministry of Water and Forests, MINEF)
Overall term: 2016 to 2018
One of the main causes of deforestation worldwide is illegal logging, mainly for agriculture. In Côte d’Ivoire, illegal logging to create agricultural areas is taking place both in rural protected areas and in protected forests. Plantation areas have also been enlarged through migration to develop commodities such as cocoa – for which Côte d’Ivoire is the leading producer worldwide – and rubber.
As a result of large-scale clearing for export-oriented agriculture, firewood exploitation, timber logging and uncontrolled fires, the forested area of Côte d’Ivoire has decreased by 75 per cent over the last 50 years and continues to decline. This is leading to considerable environmental problems, because forests play a vital role for the climate, soil quality, the country’s exceptional biodiversity and the livelihoods of the population.
In 2013, Côte d’Ivoire began negotiations with the European Union (EU) on the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan with the aim of signing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) by 2017. A negotiating committee was put in place to support the Government in the negotiation process.
The EU FLEGT Action Plan of 2003 includes measures for producer and consumer countries to tackle illegal logging and the trade in associated timber products. Under voluntary but binding partnership agreements between the EU and third countries, the partner countries establish a FLEGT licensing system to ensure the legality of timber products imported into the EU. In return, the EU supports good governance and the improvement of partner countries’ expertise and resources in the areas of sustainable forest management and law enforcement. On the demand side, the EU issued a Timber Regulation in 2013 that prohibits the marketing of illegally logged timber and has introduced certain mandatory due diligence obligations, information and standards.
The conditions for more appropriate protection and sustainable use of forest ecosystem services in Côte d’Ivoire have been created. A Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU has been signed. The expertise and resources for forestry law enforcement and good governance in the forestry sector have been improved, and a legality verification system for timber products has been introduced.
The project supports Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Water and Forestry (MINEF) in FLEGT negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement. In addition to MINEF, the technical negotiating committee and GIZ advisors, the FLEGT process also involves representatives from the public sector, administrations, industry and civil society as well as traditional authorities. A multi-stakeholder platform has been set up to facilitate discussions and negotiations on behalf of the Côte d’Ivoire Government and under the coordination of MINEF.
The tasks include the following:
- agreeing on potential actions for good governance in the forestry sector
- organising stakeholder meetings to discuss the feasibility of the project
- organising technical negotiation sessions and preparing political negotiation sessions
- publishing findings
- drafting reform proposals for improved governance in the forestry sector for MINEF
- developing proposals for legislation on implementing new forest policy
- agreements, studies and proposals for a traceability system for timber products
- proposals for a legality verification system for timber products
- promoting synergies between FLEGT and REDD+ processes.
The negotiating committee’s FLEGT Coordination Unit and its permanent technical secretariat, which is based at MINEF, have received technical advice:
- The departments responsible received technical assistance in preparing, organising and conducting negotiations for the Voluntary Partnership Agreement.
- Côte d’Ivoire’s new road map for negotiations on FLEGT 2016-2018 has been confirmed.
- Advice was also given on which documents relating to the FLEGT process can be made available to the public, and how.
The European Forest Institute FLEGT, REDD+ Facilities and the FLEGT facilitator are working together in an exemplary way, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The skills of public service representatives and traditional authorities have been strengthened for the negotiation process. This has allowed forest-policy stakeholders to acquire particular technical expertise, for example to establish a legality verification system and for other tasks.