Strengthening China-Africa ties for improved forest governance

Over 100 government, private sector and civil society representatives from China and African timber-exporting countries gathered in Beijing for the 3rd China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform.

Participants at the 3rd China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform by Simon Lim, IIED

Held on 24 and 25 October 2016, the participants discussed solutions to enhance sustainable forest management in Africa through investment in the forestry sector and policy measures.

Chen Yong, associate professor at the Research Institute of Forestry Policy and Information of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, said he was pleased that the event focused on solutions.

‘Each year we are making progress on the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, gradually changing from ideological debates into pragmatic cooperation. The more we communicate, the more we enhance our mutual understanding, Chen said.

A highlight of the event was an update on Ghana’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement focusing on the country’s timber legality assurance system, with over 20 stakeholders from African timber-exporting countries participating in the discussion.

It was suggested that the TLAS systems of FLEGT VPA countries in Africa could help to inform and inspire China’s timber legality verification system, which is currently being developed.

Symphorien Azantsa, FLEGT Facilitator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that Chinese firms are making greater efforts to comply with national environmental and social laws in Africa, although much is still to be done. Following the meeting, he sees potential for further improvements.

‘An area to be explored is to see how to add value to the timber processing industry in Africa, in terms of capacity building and technology transfer’, Azantsa said.  

He also said that going forward, a focus would be on working to improve the corporate social responsibility policies of Chinese companies to support local African communities.

The Learning Platform was organised by the Research Institute of Forestry Policy and Information (RIFPI), the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), the Centre for International Forest Products Trade (CINFT), the State Forestry Administration (SFA), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the EU FLEGT Facility, the Global Environmental Institute (GEI) and WWF China.

Launched in China in 2013, the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform is a multistakeholder forum that aims to strengthen mutual understanding, partnership and joint actions on forest governance between China and Africa.