On 21 Aug 2014, in Ha Noi, VietNam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST), Viet Nam Ministry of Agriculture andRural Development, The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and People and Nature Reconciliation(PanNature) co-launch the project “CommonAssess to Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process in Viet Nam and Laos” to support the Government ofViet Nam in the negotiation andimplementation of the VPA with the European Union (EU) in the framework of theinitiative on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) contributingto the sustainable development of thenational industry of timber processing & export and in line withinternational regulations.
This EU funded project assiststhe government, the small and medium enterprises of timber processing (SMEs),civil society organisations (CSOs) and the communities living near the forestsin some provinces neighbouring with Laos to understand and comply with the EU’stimber regulation that came in force since the 3rd March 2013.
Viet Nam currently importsapproximately 40% of raw materials from various countries for the processingand export purpose. The control of imported timber, which ensures thatlegitimate timber is legally harvested under the laws of the exporting country,is a key element in the legal timber assurance system in Viet Nam. The projectcontains a component of strengthening policy dialogues with Laos and enhancingthe control measures from the timber harvesting via transportation to tradeacross the border. They are all necessary steps to be taken in the context ofthese countries have been negotiating the VPA and have signed the Memorandum ofUnderstanding on Bilateral Cooperation on Forestry.
The VPA/FLEGT is the tradeagreement between the Government of Viet Nam and the EU to tackle the obstaclesin the production and export of timber products to EU market. Viet Naminitiated the process of VPA negotiation since 2010. Up to now, the basiccontent, including Timber legality definition framework, supply chain, Timberlegality assurance system, FLEGT licensing system, independent monitoring andevaluation, has been agreed. “The projectis especially important when Vietnam and EU now are on the final stage of VPAnegotiations which will accomplish by the end of this year”, Dr. Nguyen BaNgai, Deputy Director General, Viet Nam Administration of Forestry emphasised.
“NGOs, CBOs and local communities are recognised as importantstakeholders in the VPA/FLEGT processes between EU and their partner countries.PanNature, as one of founding members of the VNGO-FLEGT Network, sees theincreasing role of these stakeholders in participation and contribution to thenegotiation and implementation of VPA/FLEGT and forest governance in Vietnam.PanNature believes that this project will provide meaningful outputs andlessons on the effective engagement of local communities into theimplementation and monitoring of forest law enforcement, governance and trade,hence contribute to the improvement of forestry policies of Vietnam”, saidNguyen Viet Dung, Deputy Director of PanNature.
“By this project, WWF will promote the full participation ofstakeholders in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the VPA. Ithelps to ensure the to-be-signed Agreement will be effective, feasible andconsistent with the Agreement’s clauses on transparency, balance, sustainabilityand social responsibility”, Le Cong Uan, Manager of FLEGT Project,WWF-Vietnam said.
The project duration is 4 years,from 2014 to 2018, with location of Viet Nam and Lao PDR, attract theparticipation of various stakeholders ranging from forest-dependentcommunities, civil society groups, timber processing enterprises and governmentagencies.