On 18 November, a significant milestone was reached in the fight to protect Vietnam’s forests. The EU and Vietnam agreed ‘in principle’ on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), establishing a legal framework promoting legal logging, ensuring that the nation’s forests are managed in line with social and environmental laws and that timber products from Vietnam are verifiably legal.
As of today, November 15, Indonesia becomes the first country to issue licences under the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. These will exempt timber and wood products from further due diligence under the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and European operator importers are expecting to receive their first licensed cargoes before the end of the year.
Representatives from EU institutions, REDD+ and FLEGT stakeholders and NGOs gathered at the European Parliament on 12 October in Brussels to discuss corruption risks and strategies to stamp out environmental crime in African countries.
FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements offer due diligence-free access to the EU market to timber from supplier countries which introduce comprehensive legality assurance systems and forest governance reforms. The EU’s VPA partners now span the globe
In this exclusive interview with the ETTF Newsletter, EC Environmental Commissioner Karmenu Vella describes the EU FLEGT Action Plan as making a major contribution to improving forest governance and combatting illegal wood worldwide, not least through the support of the EU timber trade. Indonesia's issue of the first ever FLEGT licences, he says, will be a further key moment in this effort.