The role of social organizations in monitoring forest governance

Posted at: WEDnesday - 06/03/2019 14:19 - post name: Cộng tác viên

The Vice President cum Secretary General of VUSTA, Pham Van Tan, delivered the opening speech to the forum

The Vice President cum Secretary General of VUSTA, Pham Van Tan, delivered the opening speech to the forum

To implement the scientific and technological cooperation plan between the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry for the period of 2018-2019, on 17 January 2019 in Hanoi the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, VUSTA and The Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) and VNGO-FLEGT network held the second Forest Governance Monitoring Forum with the theme of Mechanism for social organizations to participate in monitoring the implementation of VPA / FLEGT Agreement in Vietnam.

The forum was attended and directed by the Vice President cum Secretary General of VUSTA, Pham Van Tan, the Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, Pham Van Dien and Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop, the Head of the Executive Board of VNGO - FLEGT network.


Speaking at the opening of the forum, the Vice President cum General Secretary of VUSTA, Mr. Pham Van Tan emphasized the aim of gathering and maximizing the potential of scientific and technological intellectuals of the VUSTA system to contribute to the negotiation process and preparation for implementing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA/FLEGT). The network members have actively implemented consultation, propaganda and dissemination of VPA/FLEGT to social organizations, enterprises, local authorities and people in many provinces.

In particular, the Network and organizations voluntarily evaluated and made methods and collected data for monitoring the impact of the Agreement on groups of forestry. With the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA/FLEGT) was officially signed by the Vietnamese Government and the European Union on 19 October, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium, it's time for organizations paying attention to enforcing VPA/FLEGT in Vietnam to discuss about a framework for monitoring VPA to ensure transparency, objectivity and equality.

The Vice President cum General Secretary of VUSTA hoped that at the forum the participants would focus on discussion to clarify issues such as people in charge of monitoring VPA, monitoring by organizations not directly implementing VPA to ensure independence and objectivity, how to monitor contents, conditions for social monitoring agencies to participate in monitoring VPA, and others.


Mr. Le Cong Luong, the Deputy Secretary General cum Chief of Office of VUSTA, delivers speech

According to Mr. Le Cong Luong, the Deputy Secretary General cum Chief of Office of VUSTA, a member of the cooperation promotion group, forest governance has been considered increasingly as a crucial factor in the success of the forestry sector. At a seminar in the UK, it is believed that good forest governance focuses on answering three questions: Who make decisions? Who get benefits? How are decisions made? For them, to ensure good governance, resources must be used fairly. In the world, good forest governance is a significant topic that attracts the attention of many parties, not only governments. In our country, people have started to pay much attention to forest governance through the two most well-known initiatives to improve forest governance. They are the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forestry Law Enforcement, Forest Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) and Participatory Governance Assessment (PGA) under the support of the United Nations Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD).


Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop, the Head of the Executive Board of VNGO – FLEGT network, gave a speech at the Forum

According to some forum participants, forest governance is a highly social process that requires responsibility and participation not only of the government but also of many parties at different levels. Some initial researches showed that in addition to technical issues, participation of relevant parties, especially of forest-dependent people, is a significant issue which helps the forestry develop stably. The current big issue is that the community tradition in using and owning forests has not been institutionalized, although in many places they still consider themselves as forest owners and land owners over many lifetimes, causing many potential arguments and conflicts. In addition, discussing and sharing benefits from forests of companies and units with forest use management licenses with locals are still “asking and giving”, not transparent and unequal in both legal documents and in reality, causing annoyance and dissatisfaction. The removal of forest-dependent people or communities from relevant parties in forest governance creates short-term and long-term socially unsustainable status.

In such context, the participation of NGOs and civil social organizations (NGO & CSO) plays an important role in assisting good forest governance. The world’s experiences show that NGOs/ CSOs helps increase the process of participation, autonomy, transparency, and accountability of relevant parties in developing and enforcing influential policies to forests and human.

The important roles of NGOs/CSOs include: Connecting people's participation in relevant decisions of the authorities at all levels, assisting improve sharing and access to information between people, authorities and relevant parties; helping to monitor participatory policy and law enforcement, and pointing out important issues and their causes, as well as giving feedback and actions to minimize violations in implementing policies and programs related to forest governance in the fields.


Mrs. Nguyen Tuong Van, the Deputy Director of Department of Science and Technology and International Cooperation of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, speaks at the forum

Many forum members asked and gave opinions. To fulfill the roles, NGOs/ CSOs can participate in on-site evidence-based researches to detect results and important issues provided for policy dialogue; develop capacity, enhance knowledge, touch emotion, and change attitudes of communities, authorities and relevant parties for forest governance issues and policies; make alliance and cooperate for better voice and position. NGOs/CSOs often work alone and independently. If they can connect relevant parties and people, and make network in action, they can increase their voice, position, and effectiveness in communicating concerns to policy planners. It is necessary to develop relations with local communities and assist them in developing or strengthening strong unified communities so that they can become partners and relevant parties with right position and develop relations with law enforcement agencies and entities and other parties to implement their connecting role.


Scene of the forum

Currently, the biggest problem that NGOs /CSOs is facing to fulfill their mission is probably i) Legality for their representative role. In many places, NGOs/CSOs are still unable to represent legally on behalf of people and communities until their positions are institutionalized. Therefore, till now CSOs still have to accept a weaker role, transferring information and aspirations among relevant parties, and ii) Is there a political will to support changes towards a process for better forest governance? NGOs/ CSOs can deal with these issues well or not? It depends on their own capabilities.


Author: PV.
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