VNGO-FLEGT aims to develop membership

VNGO-FLEGT aims to develop membership
The network of Vietnamese Non-governmental organizations in Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VNGO-FLEGT) is focused on expanding its operational area and developing its membership in the 2015-2025 period.

The VNGO-FLEGT will also raise funds to assist the initiative to protect the forest.

Established in January 2012, VNGO-FLEGT now has 46 members across the nation, which expect to make valuable contributions to the negotiation and implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and the FLEGT program in Vietnam, thus contributing to implementing the plan to manage, protect and develop the forest in the 2011-2020 period and promote mechanisms and policies to benefit local communities which live on the forest.

The VNGO-FLEGT is aimed at providing accurate information to the negotiation of the VPA and ideas on policies and regulations relating to FLEGT/VPA; building capacity for stakeholders in implementing the VPA; and conducting social supervision once the VPA comes into effect.

During the VPA negotiation, VNGO-FLEGT has held various activities to build capacity for VNGOs and raising awareness of the communities of issues related to VPA/FLEGT; consult the community about related issues in the VPA; studying potential impacts of the VPA on vulnerable groups; and contribute ideas to the VPA/FLEGT agenda on the basis of the working session with the community as well as research outcomes.

In the implementation of the VPA, VNGO-FLEGT will enhance capacity for VNGOs and increasing public awareness of VPA/FLEGT related issues; supporting Vietnamese Government and the EU to transfer accurate information about the VPA/FLEGT to VNGOs and the community; transferring the community’s ideas on the implementation of the VPA to related authorities; and cooperate with related parties to minimize risks in the implementation of the VPA.

 

FLEGT stands for Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade. It is initiated by the European Union (EU) in 2003. The European Committee recommended a FLEGT action plan, including activities to help the EU deal with illegal exploitation of wood and trading of wood products.

FLEGT is focused on the negotiation of compulsory bilateral trade agreements between wood producing countries, called the Voluntary Partnership Agreement, which ensure the legality of wood exported to the EU market. The Vietnamese government launched VPA negotiation with the EU in 2010.

Over the past two years, VNGO-FLEGT has carried out numerous activities. In April 2014, at the invitation of the Office of the Steering Committee on FLEGT under the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the VNGO-FLEGT core group including the Centre for Research and Development in Upland Areas (CERDA), the Centre for Sustainable Development of Mountainous Areas (CSDM), the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) and the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) has sent their contributions to the definition of wood and legal wood products in Vietnam in the fifth draft in the framework of VPA negotiation.

According to the network’s key members, in addition to consult central ministries and agencies, it is a must to consult the communities, especially wood owners and those living on the forest in order to have a more practical definition of wood and legal wood products in Vietnam.

“According to international experiences VNGO-FLEGT learned from the FLEGT Week in Belgium, those countries which have signed VPA/FLEGT agreement with the EU and received consensus all consult local communities in the draft of definition of wood,” said the recommendations by the group.

The recommendation is the first step of VNGO-FLEGT. The network has also consulted people in 33 villages/14 communes/6 districts in Yen Bai, Bak Kan, Thanh Hoa, and Thua Thien Hue provinces about the legality of wood; conducted survey about the implementation of the Law on Forest Protection and Development, last emended in 2004; consider the possibilities to meet VPA requirements about the legality of wood provided by households in exploitation, trading, transportation and production of wood and wood products; assess the impact of VPA on the livelihood of people living on the forest in Thai Nguyen and Yen Bai provinces and trading villages in the Red River Delta.

The results of VNGO-FLEGT’ research has provided convincing scientific evidence sent to the Vietnam Administration of Forestry.

For example, a research on the impact of VPA/FLEGT on the livehood of vulnerable groups conducted in Phu Luong district in Thai Nguyen province and Yen Binh district in Yen Bai and two trading villages in Bac Ninh and Hanoi shows that households meet the requirements at different levels. The research, therefore, make practical recommendations.

At the national level, it is necessary to check the regulations applied for households; build a set of indexes for requirements; build a mechanism to empower to local authorities or a third party (local communities, civil society organizations…) to observe the implementation of regulations.

At the provincial level, it is a must to promote the issuance of land use certificates; add more requirements on the origin of legal wood, environmental commitment, fire prevention and labour safety during the issuance of business licenses; empower local authorities and civil society organizations to supervise these activities; build plan to boost vocational training for households.

They also proposed increasing the role of civil society organizations in providing households with information through communication, training; providing legal support; and connecting people with stakeholders.

SRD Vu Thi Bich Hop, who is also Head of the VNGO-FLEGT management board, said the results of the research will be important inputs for both national- and provincial-level policy making to effective implement VPA/FLEGT in Vietnam.

In addition to research activities, through projects to build capacity for the civil society organizations in implementing the VPA, the network has organized training courses, workshops, and communication campaigns to raise awareness of VNGO-FLEGT members and people of the FLEGT/VPA.

Thu Huong

Translated by Dic