The Joint Implementation Committee of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) that is expected to host its sixth sitting today, will bring together government officials and partners, particularly the European Union (EU) to look at critical issues affecting the country’s forestry sector, to include its proper governance.
The VPA is a legally-binding bilateral trade agreement that aims to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber from Liberia to the EU. Additionally, it gives timber producing countries market access, not only to the EU, but to other markets that are looking for legal timber.
It aims to guarantee that any wood exported from Liberia to the EU comes from legal sources and helps the country to stop illegal logging by improving forest governance and regulation.
The instrument also promotes legal trade of forest products between Liberia and the EU as well as promotes sustainable forest development, while developing economic opportunities for the present and future generations.
Today’s meeting, which marks the sixth sitting of the Joint Implementation Committee is intended to oversee the implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Liberia and the EU.
Furthermore, it will also foster dialogue and the exchange of information on matters covered by the Agreement, including the implementation, which Liberia is committed to executing fully as part of efforts to strengthen law enforcement within the forestry sector.
As part of the two-day event, the technical and preparatory discussions will be co-chaired by Alberto Menighini of the EU Delegation, and C. Mike Doryen, Forestry Development Authority (FDA), while EU Ambassador Hélène Cavé and Harrison S. Karnwea, FDA Board of Directors are expected to co-chair the formal session and sign the aide memoire.
Several partners, including the European Forest Institute, United States Agency for International Development, United Kingdom, Department for International Development, and the World Bank will attend the meeting.
Participating stakeholders from the Liberian side will include nine ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, the Liberia Timber Association and the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee.
It can be recalled that the agreement came into force in December, 2013. Proper management and governance of the country’s forestry sector has been a major challenge for past governments over the years as it is expected that with the new international partnership and mechanism put in place since 2013, the direct beneficiaries (the people) will soon feel the tangible impact.