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Liberia-EU FLEGT VPA Charles K. Miller Deputy Coordinator, Liberia VPA Secretariat Accra. June 7 th.

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Presentation on theme: "Liberia-EU FLEGT VPA Charles K. Miller Deputy Coordinator, Liberia VPA Secretariat Accra. June 7 th."— Presentation transcript:

1 Liberia-EU FLEGT VPA Charles K. Miller Deputy Coordinator, Liberia VPA Secretariat Accra. June 7 th

2 Introduction Liberia-EU VPA negotiations concluded on 9 th May Overview of the Presentation 1. History of Liberian Forest Sector 2. Overview of the VPA and how it has been developed 3. Next steps on implementing the VPA

3 Part 1: History of the Liberia Forest Sector

4 History of the Liberia Forest Sector Commercial forestry started in Liberia in the late 1950s The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) was created in 1976 by a special Act to manage the forestry sector The Act also defined the following objectives of the sector: – Establishing permanent forest estate made up of National Forests and National Parks; – Optimizing the contribution of forestry to the national economy; – Increasing public involvement in forest conservation and management through the creation of communal forests and agro- forestry programs

5 From 1976 until the imposition of UN sanctions in 2003, the focus of the FDA was on allocation of concessions However, concession granting in Liberia during these periods did not consider transparency issues, or issues relating to environmental, or human rights concerns. The forestry sector was linked with weak governance and corruption. History of the Liberia Forest Sector

6 UN imposed sanctions on Liberian timber exports in 2003 that sought to address the following issues: – Lack of transparency in allocation and granting of logging concessions; – Weak governance of the forest sector; – Timber revenues fuelling armed conflict in Liberia and the sub-region; – Inequitable benefit-sharing scheme; – Unfair labor practices; – Tax evasion; etc. UN Sanctions on Liberia

7 The purpose and effect of the sanctions was to ban the export of logs from Liberia until: 1) Liberia reformed its forest sector management practices to meet internationally accepted standards of transparency & accountability; 2) The government applied forest revenues to the benefit of the Liberian people. UN Sanctions on Liberia

8 Forest Concession Review Committee established in 2004 – Not one of the seventy logging concessions reviewed could demonstrate bare minimum compliance with legal requirements, i.e. no operator had a legal right to log – Almost two and half times the entire forested surface area of Liberia had been granted in concessions. – The concession holders owed the government over 64 million U. S. dollars in tax and other financial arrears. Forest Concession Review

9 FCRC recommended that the Government of Liberia: – cancel all existing forest concessions, and suspend the grant and allocation of future concessions; – Conduct a package of legal/institutional reforms; – Establish a Forest Reform Monitoring Committee (FRMC) to monitor forest management reform, led by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA); with the participation and assistance of Liberian and international representatives including civil society organizations. Forest Concession Review

10 Sanctions were lifted in 2006 when all conditions were in place Since 2006, there has been ongoing reform including: – National Forestry Policy of 2006, National Forestry Reform Law 2006 and new regulations, plus revised Code of Harvesting Practices; – Reform of the FDA resulting in significant down-sizing of staff numbers and improved salary levels; – Establishment of a national timber traceability system: LiberFor which ensures timber cannot be issued an export permit unless it has been harvested in a legal concession and all taxes have been paid. Liberia Forest Sector Reform

11 3. Overview of the VPA and how it has been developed

12 Why did Liberia decide to do a VPA? VPA reinforces Liberias sector reform agenda As the VPA is based on national legislation, it will support Liberia to enforce its laws (and ongoing legal reform) It provides a framework for capacity building in the forestry sector It builds on commitments to transparency and good governance in the forestry sector It will help Liberia meet demand from international markets that are looking for proof that timber is legal.

13 How was it developed? NEGOTIATING TEAM 11 people Led by Minister of Agriculture Mainly Govt, plus CS & Industry STEERING COMMITTEE 26 people Chaired by MD of FDA Govt, CS, Industry & Communities TECHNICAL SECRETARIAT Carries out day to day work for NT & SC EU

14 Scope of the VPA Liberia sees the VPA as an opportunity to improve governance in the sector, and so has included: – A wide range of timber products to be covered by the LAS, for timber from all sources (all concessions/permits plus imports) – Commitment that all timber/timber products for any export destination and also the domestic market will have to comply fully with the VPA requirements (NB. The domestic market will be phased in later once the LAS is operational for exports) – A large number of areas identified for further regulation or clarification, including topics such as workers rights and welfare; social agreements with affected communities; and chainsaw logging operators

15 Liberia LAS - how will it work? New structures will be established to create the Legality Assurance System in Liberia: Liberia Verification Department (LVD) – Will carry out verification of compliance with all the legal requirements set out in the VPA – Will operate the COCS (building on the LiberFor system) Liberia Licensing Department (LLD) – Will issue FLEGT Licences (which will replace export permits)

16 EXPORTER LLD LVD CSOs OTHERS MOCI MOF EPAFDA DEPTS MOL COC / WTS VERIFICATION TO LD Submission of monitoring data Informing verification bodies This diagram illustrates the intended institutional setup for the LAS Both the LLD and LVD will be the responsibility of the FDA. However the LVD is intended to be outsourced for the first five years of building & operating the LAS

17 Public Information & Transparency This is an important aspect of the VPA, and scrutiny of the LAS and the forestry sector as a whole will be important to ensure good governance in the sector. Commitments are made in a dedicated Annex of the VPA to provide information on topics like: – How the forestry sector is being managed – How the VPA is being implemented and what impact it is having It reinforces the commitments to transparency included in: – National Forestry Reform Law – Freedom of Information Act – LEITI Act

18 Part 4: Next steps for VPA implementation

19 Where are we now? The VPA is now pending ratification by both parties to come into force. Pre-implementation activities have started with the formation of interim structures leading up to ratification and formation of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC; the formal EU-GoL structure to oversee implementation of the VPA).

20 Where are we now? Detailed planning is underway of how to implement the VPA, based on indicative timetables and activities included in the VPA. FLEGT Licences wont be issued until the system is fully operational (expected 2014) The commitments to a transparent and participatory multi- stakeholder process continue from negotiations to implementation. – National multi-stakeholder committee to be established – Lots of work planned on communications

21 Thank you for your attention!

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