VPA Gets Another 3-Year Mandate

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Madam Hѐlѐne Cavé, EU Ambassador toLiberia.

— EU, Liberia Launch Phase II Tomorrow

The lifespan of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), has been graciously extended by another three-year period, an FDA release has said.

The ceremony marking the official launch of Phase II of the VPA takes place on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in Monrovia. It is expected to be graced by an array of government officials and an EU delegation. This Long Term Technical Assistance to Implement the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) in Liberia is a project, funded by the EU for the continuation of EU support to the forestry sector to assist the implementation of the VPA/Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT).

GoL will be represented by FDA managing director, C. Mike Doryen and the EU by Ambassador Hélène Cavé.

The objective of this project is to contribute to the development of Liberia’s forest sector by increasing the value of traded timber products through the strengthening of overall forest governance, sustainable management of forest resources, law enforcement, and rule of law, and equitable sharing of forest benefits, among others.

This second phase of EU assistance will emphasize the trade rather than aid aspects of the program. This phase aims at enabling Liberia develop its capacity to issue FLEGT Licenses to help increase international trade with higher paying markets like the EU and others.

For this to happen, completing the building of systems and procedures and putting these into operation is needed, so that a Legality Assurance System is fully in place in Liberia. Private operators and community forest owners can then be encouraged to obtain FLEGT Licenses and benefit from added-value exports to premium markets.

The FDA is already increasingly taking over responsibilities for managing and financing the VPA implementation.

The EU assistance to the VPA process started in 2013 under a first phase of VPA support through a co-financing arrangement between EU and DFID by a total of approximately EUR 20 million, implemented through two main technical assistance projects; one to create a Legality Verification Department (LVD), and the other a VPA Support Unit (VPA/SU). This was complemented by funding of specific additional actions, like support to the civil society, and the independent auditor.

A key feature of the EU project is that it will help FDA to provide this coordination in its role as Lead-Agency. This will be achieved through the institutions and processes that were set up for VPA in the first phase; such as the VPA Secretariat, the Liberia Implementation Committee (LIC), National Multi Stakeholder Monitoring Committee (NMSMC) and the guidance provided by the Forward Planner (the VPA road map).

The main counterparts to this project are the Government of Liberia institutions administering the forest resources namely the Forest Development Authority (FDA), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MoFDP), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Ministry of Labor (MoL). The present project is a second phase of the specific technical assistance, totaling around EUR 3.4 million.

Liberia, a country rich in natural resources with over 4 million hectares of forests, has successfully emerged from war into a peaceful democracy. With variable figures during the last decade, the current contribution of the forest sector to the GDP is estimated around 10 to 11% with ambitions from the current administration to increase this contribution to at least 12% in the coming years, hence the importance of emphasizing trade.

The export of commercial timber generates about US$8 million of government revenue annually, which is roughly 26% of the total earnings from natural resources.

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