The first formal meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) dubbed ‘Aide Memoire’
Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), ended in Monrovia Thursday, May 29.
The four-day (May 27-29) meeting, held in the Conference room of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, was hosted with the objective to jointly review the implementation of the Liberia-European Union (EU) VPA Agreement that entered into force on December 1, 2013.
Other objectives of the VPA are to put into place systems to verify the legality of Liberia’s timber production, and also to strengthen forest sector governance.
This process, according to a statements by participants, is expected to last for several years and will bring the Liberian forestry sector to a state-of-the-art and sustainable status, thereby leading to increased long term revenues for communities and the government, and investment and job creation.
The EU has similar agreement with Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Cameroun; Indonesia and is negotiating others around the world.
The Minister of Agriculture, Florence Chenoweth co-chaired the just-ended meeting. She was assisted by the Head of Delegation of the EU to Liberia, Ambassador Attilio Pacifici, and was attended by other distinguished guests and observers.
Among them was the Managing Director of the Forestry Development (FDA), Harrison S. Karnwea, other EU member States, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (FDID), Civil Society, private sector and key development partners.
Other members of the Liberian team included representatives from the MOA, FDA, Ministries of Justice, Commerce and Industry, National Bureau of Concessions and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Some of the issues discussed center on key milestones in the development of the timber legality assurance system, recent developments and challenges in the sector, including forestry management agreements and improved transfer of timber revenues to communities.
The meeting finally reviewed the support provided by the United Kingdom and the European Union to Liberia in the forestry sector.
In his remark, Ambassador Pacifici said he was encouraged by the ‘frankness and inclusiveness’ of the discussions. By that, he believes it was in recognition of recent efforts made by the Government of Liberia and the FDA to address issues surrounding community forestry management agreements rights and charting a way forward to strengthen the roll out of community forestry, with the active involvement of civil society.
For his part, Mr. Karnwea welcomed the role that Liberia-based non-governmental organizations were playing in the sector.
He then expressed gratitude to the EU, DFID, the United States Agency International Development (USAID) and others—who are providing support to local NGOs to build their capacities to actively carry out activities in supporting the monitoring of forestry operations and in reporting any identified irregularities to the FDA.
Mr. Karnwea also stressed the importance of FDA working relationship with partners to empower Liberians solve problems.