IUCN coordinated a briefing session for high-ranking government officials on March 17, 2008 to raise awareness about the principles of the European Union’s (EU) Forest Law Enforcement Governance Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. FLEGT is an initiative of the EU to curb illegal logging and foster sustainable forest management through trade mechanisms.
The Government of Viet Nam through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), EU and IUCN co-hosted this briefing session.
The meeting started by outlining FLEGT initiatives in Asia focusing on how adherence to FLEGT principles could help Asian countries conserve their forest resources, decrease corruption, and reduce illegal logging. Next, the relevance of FLEGT for Viet Nam was outlined. The expansion of Viet Nam’s wood processing industry and the growing consumer demand in Europe legal timber products means that tackling unsustainable forestry management and illegal logging should be high on government’s policy agenda.
Examples of forest projects in Viet Nam administered by IUCN, IIED - the International Institute for Environment and Development, and WWF that strive to improve forest governance by adhering to FLEGT principles were shared.
IUCN’s SVBC project aims to implement forest governance arrangements that facilitate and promote sustainable and equitable forest conservation and management. To achieve this objective IUCN raising awareness about FLEGT issues in Viet Nam encourages a tri-partite approach to addressing forest governance issues, and pilot tests innovative governance approaches.
IIED’s project has established the Forest Governance and Learning Group that its contribution will focus on how future policy on CFM can contribute to alleviate poverty in the forest area through equitable and sustainable benefit sharing arrangements.
WWF has developed guidelines to help combat illegal logging. WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network produced the Responsible Purchasing of Forest Products and Keep It Legal, which provide guidelines of how to responsibly produce and purchase timber.
The final segment of the briefing session centred on discussing ideas for hosting a roundtable discussion on April 18, to address the changing international market for wood and the shifting of wood products from Viet Nam towards verifiable legal timber and the potential implications for Forest Policy in Viet Nam. This roundtable would help prepare forest stakeholders in Viet Nam for the Asia Pacific Forestry Week, to be hosted in Ha Noi from April 21 – 25, 2008.
Viet Nam has poor forest governance practices. This results in insecure land tenure, corruption, and illegal logging. Additionally, weak forest governance leads to unsustainable forest management, which impedes the ability of the rural poor who rely on natural resources to generate a stable income.