P l a t f o r m  N e w s

Issue 6, April 2005
, Quarterly newsletter of the EC Forest Platform
The EC Forest Platform is a FERN initiative that creates links between peoples in the South and the European Community in connection with aid and forest issues



Foreword

Dear Platform members,

As we near the summit that will review the 2000 UN Millennium Declaration, the European Commission preparations for the ‘year of development’ keep being postponed: The European Council, Parliament and civil society have succeeded in pushing the revision of the development policy until the UN Millennium +5 summit (September 2005).  The unanimous rejection by the Parliament of the future funding tool for development means that the Commission will have to come up with a brand new proposal.  Slowing down for the better, as increasing participation will allow more time for thorough proposals.

Illegal logging is a key debate only being discussed among EU Member States.  But for two meetings (the Luxembourg Presidency organised an informal gathering with industry and NGOs on 1 May 2005 and on 12 April 2005 the Commission discussed additional legislation with stakeholders), NGOs are the force ensuring that the broader range of stakeholders are kept informed.  A Conference on illegal logging was held at the European Parliament on 7 April 2005, with the participation of Parliament members, governments, research institutions, industry and NGOs.  As Malaysian NGO campaigners did in February 2005, Indonesian NGOs will now visit European countries to share their views with policy-makers and ask for clear commitments from consuming countries to ban illegal timber imports.

To submit article proposals or reactions to news you see here contact Iola Leal Riesco at iola@fern.org  

c o n t e n t s

Foreword

P l a t f o r m Debates
1. The EU finances the Cameroonian Independent Forest Observer
2. Update from Indonesia

3. FLEGT - In process
4. Renewed Cotonou Agreement
5. The EC needs to reinforce support to its delegations

N e w  p o l i c i e s  from the EU
6. EC Development Policy Statement on its way
7. EU financial framework 2007-2013 discussion continues
8. Uncertain future for the Environment and Forests budget lines

N e w s f r o m around the World
9. Illegal timber shipment from the Amazon blocked in Portugal
10. Sarayacu ask oil company CGC to leave Ecuador

R e s o u r c e s
11. Understanding EU intricacies: new briefings and publications
12. What is the EC Forest Platform?

P l a t f o r m Debates

1. The EU finances the Cameroonian Independent Forest Observer

By Edith Abilogo, EC Forest Platform focal point in Cameroon

The new mandate of the 'independent forest observer of Cameroon makes it more dependent on the administrative authorities.

In 2000, the government of Cameroon undertook a project of independent monitoring of illegal forest practices.  This project allows the government to show its goodwill in promoting sustainable forest management and fighting against illegal logging.  On April 2005, the NGO Ressource Extraction Monitoring (REM) started the second phase of the project, taking the torch from Global Witness who had been in charge of the activities since 2000.  Also, the project is now exclusively financed by the European Union, who has committed 1,220,000 euros of the STABEX 92/93 (8vo FED) fund for a period of three years.  The independent observer works under the supervision of the Ministry in charge of forests (Minfof).

Although the work of the independent forest observer (OI) had shown numerous positive results until now, civil society is concerned about the new Cameroon EU partnership. Particularly, it is unclear how the new phase will ensure the independence of the OI in the improvement of forest controls, the following up of legal cases and the dissemination of information.  The present mandate of the OI increases the dependency of the observer towards the governmental institutions, fact that will probably reduce the scope of its action and its effectiveness.  Furthermore, in the future the OI will have to face numerous administrative complexities and insufficiency of resources.

Reduction of power: Among others, the OI is downgraded to simple companion of the governmental teams.  In future, it will not be allowed to undertake initiatives and supervise cases, and its reports will have to be approved by a ministerial Reading Committee.  The clause that allowed, as a guarantee of transparency and independence, the publication of any report within 30 days after the date of submission to the Committee (independently of its approval) has now been cancelled.  This provision will complicate the procedures of diffusing the information and will reduce the impact of the OI.

Reduced financing:

The budget of this new phase is 20% lower (200 million francs CFA) than the previous programme. Since even with higher funds work on the whole Cameroon forest area was impossible, a reduction of funds will likely lead to a further reduction of the area covered.  This fact will seriously harm the outcome of the project.

Requests of the civil society

A good result of the OI depends on its cooperation with the government of Cameroon.  But the reality seems to be different.  For example, few companies known to have been found to be engaged in illegal logging activities have been sued, the sanctions are weak and little dissuasive, and there is no existing transparent system that guarantees the payment of the fines. The presence of the OI triggered a significant decrease of the obvious cases of fraud, but there is much left to do.  There is still no procedure to list the reports of infractions from the date they are issued to the application of the sanctions, and the "disappearance" of files in process is not unusual. Moreover, the type of fraud has changed, passing from obvious illegalities to more subtle forms of fraud and this must clearly be documented.  The methods and procedures of investigation need to be reviewed and the OI must be allowed to deliver infraction documents during their missions conducted without the forest control unit.

A better documentation of the illegality will depend on the optimization of the results of the forest control.  Until today, most of the missions of the OI have been made in large forest concessions, which only cover a part of the surface of logging.  A study conducted in early 2005 showed that in other areas called 'Logging Sales" and representing 20% of the operated forest surface in Cameroon, anarchical and illegal logging coexist in total freedom and is at the origin of numerous social conflicts.  The new independent forest observer of Cameroon will have to face many problems. It is hoped that other actors, mainly the civil society, will engage in monitoring illegal logging activities.  The reinforcement of their capacities must be taken into account, as in the past, in the mandate of the OI.  The controller must be independent from the controlled in order to guarantee the neutrality and the independence of OI reports, and most of all, its transparency.  The European Union, the government of Cameroon and the national and international civil society must, all, follow this project through. The survival of our forest patrimony depends on it.

For information about our national Platform activities and documents in Cameroon, or to actively join the Platform, please contact our NGO focal point Edith Abilogo (abilogo@cedcameroun.org ), CED - Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement, Cameroon.

2. Update from Indonesia

By Mardi Minangsari, EC Forest Platform focal point in Indonesia

Several EC funded forest projects in Indonesia ended last December, including the Forest Liaison Bureau, South Central Kalimantan Production Forest Project (SCKPFP) and Leuser Development Project. Telapak asked the EC delegation whether it was possible to have a meeting to evaluate these projects and share lessons learned for future projects.  The delegation had already considered this, although no timetable is ready yet.  As part of Platform activities, Telapak - together with local NGOs in the Indonesian province of South Kalimantan - have conducted a project visit and independent monitoring of SCKPFP. A briefing of the project was produced and distributed to relevant stakeholders. (See the links below)

The process leading to the next Country Strategy Paper (CSP) has been delayed as the EC has been busy with Aceh after the earthquake and tsunami hit (December 2004).  The scoping study that is supposed to take place soon has also been delayed with no clear timetable.  The mechanism to involve civil society in the development, monitoring of implementation and evaluation of CSP has also not commenced.  This was one of the Indonesian EC Forest Platform demands to the European Commission regarding EC development aid sent out last year.  The Indonesian civil society group will try to push this through to the new head of the EC delegation (Jean Joseph Breteche), who took up his position in March 2005.

On the issue of illegal logging and the FLEGT initiative, a stakeholder meeting took place in Jakarta in February 2005.  It was attended by the EC delegation, ministry of forestry, ministry of foreign affairs, and non- governmental and indigenous peoples organisations, where each stakeholder shares the updates on FLEGT issues, especially about the licensing scheme and partnership agreement.  The Indonesian civil society group also put forward their concerns and produced a position paper on the issue.  A mission of Indonesian Civil Society Group (CSG) is travelling to Europe this month to lobby various stakeholders including the European Commission, governments, industry, and European civil society groups. 

During the meeting, the Indonesian CSG were disappointed to learn that the consultation meeting for FLEGT Support Project isn’t confirmed yet, while the project is due to start very soon.  It’s unacceptable that in Jambi – one of the project sites - even the head of the forestry office is ignorant about the project. Platform network in Jambi have held a series of discussions about this and have agreed to monitor the project closely.

RELATED LINKS
Aid trace in the Forest: Development Aid Scheme in Forest Sector in Indonesia Case Study South Central Kalimantan Production Forest Project (December 2004): English http://www.telapak.org/project/download/SCKPFP_briefing_final_E.pdf, Indonesian http://www.telapak.org/project/download/SCKPFP_briefing_final_BI.pdf 

For information about our national Platform activities and documents in Indonesia, or to actively join the Platform, please contact our NGO focal point Mardi Minangsari (mardi_minangsari@telapak.org), Telapak, Indonesia.

3. FLEGT – in process

The draft law under discussion at EU level to control timber import from partner countries is still in process (see Platform News issue 5). NGOs have called for clear safeguards to be included in voluntary partnership agreements as detailed in the last platform newsletter (available in French, Spanish and English – see the links below). These include:

1)       Partnership agreements should be based on a proper assessment of existing forest legislation (including customary law, human rights law etc);

2)       Partnership agreements should be linked to a time-bound action programme moving towards sustainable forest management;

3)       Partnership agreements should be developed in an inclusive process – involving NGOs and local communities - to draft partnership agreements;

4)       Partnership agreements must specify that all exported timber should be licensed (not just exports to the EU);

5)       Partnership agreements must specify that licensing must be based on independent verification of legality and allow for civil society spot check monitoring as part of the process.

EU Member States are still negotiating the principles for these partnership agreements. Depending on whether the Member States are taking these principles seriously and incorporating them into the partnership agreements, NGOs will continue to support the process or stop their support as otherwise there will be a high chance that the process will backfire and make illegitimate and destructive practices legitimate.

On 7 April 2005, FERN co-organised a conference with Greenpeace and WWF to expose the environmental and social impact of illegal and unsustainable logging in tropical and tundra forests and discuss the European FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Action Plan in the European Parliament.  Conference participants included members of Parliament, government representatives from the EU and partner countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, industry and NGOs (see http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/forests/threats/illegal-logging/conference-on-illegal-logging).

To advance the debate on additional options to the voluntary partnership agreements, the European Commission hosted a consultation meeting on 12 April 2005, attended by NGO representatives of Ghana, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Brazil and Indonesia. The NGO representatives portrayed a gloomy picture of the activities of the timber industry in their countries leading to illegal logging rates of up to 90% in Brazil, Indonesia and Ghana. Although supportive of the Commission’s FLEGT Action Plan and in principle positive to the development of partnership agreements with producer countries, the representatives asked the Commission to –among other demands- guarantee full and informed participation of NGOs and local community groups in the development of these partnership agreements. This consultation is one year later than the initial deadline that urged the Commission “to review options for further legislation to control imports of illegally harvested timber and conflict timber” and to present its findings to the Council by mid-2004. The document won’t be ready until autumn 2005 the earliest.

RELATED LINKS
EU FLEGT Action Plan:
The Action Plan (May 2003): http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/forest/initiative/docs/Doc1-FLEGT_en.pdf#zoom=100
FERN’s analysis of the Action Plan and recommendations to the Council (Jul 2003): http://www.fern.org/pubs/briefs/illegallog2.pdf and http://www.fern.org/pubs/ngostats/AP_reccs.htm
Commission’s series of briefing sheets on the FLEGT Action Plan. (Apr 2004): http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/forest/initiative/briefing_sheets_en.htm n
Joint NGO Statement (Dec 2004) Controlling timber imports into the EU: http://www.fern.org/

Licensing Scheme and Voluntary Partnership Agreements:
Proposal for a Council Regulation concerning the establishment of a voluntary FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community (Jul 2004):
http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/pdf/2004/com2004_0515en01.pdf
FERN, Greenpeace and WWF comment on the draft Council Regulation concerning the establishment of a voluntary FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community (Sep 2004):
http://www.fern.org/
FERN, Greenpeace and WWF Principles for FLEGT Partnership Agreements (Jan 2005)
: http://www.fern.org/

NGO positions:
Facing Reality: how to halt the import of illegal timber in the EU. FERN, WWF and Greenpeace (Apr 2004):
http://www.fern.org/pubs/reports/facing_reality.pdf

Industry positions:
A statement promoted by FERN, WWF and Greenpeace and signed by over 70 European companies (Apr 2005) http://www.panda.org/downloads/europe/industrystatementonflegt.pdf

4. Renewed Cotonou Agreement

On 23 February 2005, negotiations were concluded between the European Union and representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states over the revision of the Cotonou Agreement.  After eight months of difficult debate, the EU successfully persuaded ACP states to include the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the support to the International Criminal Court as key elements of the Agreement.

The Cotonou Agreement, first signed on 23 June 2000 at Cotonou in Benin, links the EU and 77 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Poverty reduction is its principal objective, to be achieved through political dialogue, development aid and closer economic and trade co-operation.  A revision clause allows the Agreement to be adapted every five years (see Platform News issue 5).

ACP countries opposed strongly to the inclusion of a protocol linking the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the ratification of the International Criminal Court to the eligibility for EU aid.  This decision meaning that, in future, aid could be suspended if the country does not co-operate with the EU.  Surprisingly, the final agreement was put on the table in only one week, with a compensation to ACP countries of minimum financing for the upcoming period 2008 - 2013 and an EU pledge to make additional funding available to offset potential negative effects of its Economic Partnership Agreements with the region (see Platform News issue 4).

Tense negotiations diverged attention away from ensuring that the Cotonou Agreement would reflect EU commitments to sustainable development.  Natural resources like forests are vital for the subsistence of poor people, and environmental degradation has a significant impact on economic growth and social development (1).  Access to land, water, forests, fishing stocks and other natural resources play a central role in violent conflicts in Africa (2).  The request to take into account environmental concerns, together with economic and social considerations, into EU ACP co-operation was already raised by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in October 2003 (3).  But it seems that country environmental profiles - indispensable tools to define programming priorities for ACP countries - will have to wait at least five more years to become part of the country analysis. In the meantime, co-operation will continue to address poverty alleviation without ensuring a healthy environment for all, as if it would ever deliver.

The revised agreement is due to be signed in June 2005.

(1) Commission for Africa (Mar 2003) Our Common Interest. Report available at http://www.commissionforafrica.org
(2) Ibid

(2) ACP – EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Report
on sustainable management and conservation of countries in the context of the 9th EDF programme. ACP-EU Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment, ACP/EU 3590/03/fin, 11 Oct 2003 Available at http://www.europarl.eu.int/intcoop/acp/92_01/pdf/pr_social_en.pdf

 

5. The EC needs to reinforce support to its delegations

The Court of Auditors - the EC financial watchdog urges the Commission too improve support to its delegations in non-EU countries, placing specific emphasis on thematic expertise (environment, health, etc.).

The audit, made public in May 2005, analyses the impact of the ongoing reform of the management of EC aid. In May 2000, the Commission announced a major reform aiming to radically improve the speed and quality of its aid programme. It included as a key component the devolution of EC aid management tasks and responsibilities from the Commission's headquarters in Brussels to its delegations in beneficiary countries across the world (1).

The overly centralised management of the EC aid programme and the lack of responsibilities and resources in the Commission delegations had been criticised by the Court itself on several occasions (2).  After the devolution, the responsibility of the EC delegations has increased in several areas. They are now responsible for project preparation, contracting, and financial and technical implementation, and they have received extra human and technical resources.

The Court considers that in general EC delegations have been reasonably well prepared to deal with the different aspects of development activities, leading to [] a better understanding of local conditions, risks and opportunities. Unfortunately, the process has not been as successful in Brussels: the assessment highlights that the Commission headquarters are failing to move away from managing projects towards supporting the EC delegations in partner countries. Thematic expertise (environment, forests, health, etc.) has suffered the most from staff reductions in headquarters: first, the overall reduction in posts does not ensure that experienced staff adhere to a thematic unit, and secondly, existing staff are not being trained to readapt to the new role of providing support, thematic knowledge and advice.

Regarding the results of devolution, it is still too early - after less than two years - to see any improvement in the speed and quality of EC external aid.  Also, the lack of a complete set of performance indicators at an early stage in the devolution process makes it difficult to measure progress against the main objectives.

For the time being, the Commission will have to start work on solving existing problems. These include recruiting staff with appropriate expertise in EC delegations, ensuring the provision of quality support to delegations, improving the financial information systems, addressing any outstanding training needs and simplifying procedures.

 

(1) The final responsibility remains with the headquarters of the Commission in Brussels.
(2) Court of Auditors (2000) Special Report No 21/2000 on the Management of the Commission's aid programmes, in particular on country programming, project preparation and the role of Delegations; (1998) Special Report No 1/98 in respect of bilateral financial and technical cooperation with non-member Mediterranean countries; (1997) Special Report No 3/97 concerning the decentralised system for the implementation of the PHARE programme; (1997) Annual Report 1997.

RELATED LINKS
Report of the European Court of Auditors (Dec 2004) http://www.eca.eu.int/audit_reports/special_reports/docs/2004/rs10_04en.pdf


N e w  p o l i c i e s from the EU

6. EC Development Policy Statement on its way

The European Commission public consultation on the future of EC development policy closed on 19 March 2005.  The outcome of this consultation is expected to provide input for the ongoing process of revision of the framework for the current development policy.  The initial date foreseen to reach a joint Commission – Council – Parliament agreement in the form of a Declaration has been extended until Autumn 2005.

During the consultation, NGOs highlighted the importance of a strong and coherent policy underpinning EC development co-operation.  The initiative to start a public debate was widely welcomed.  However, most civil society networks with a presence in Brussels, including the EC Forest Platform, openly choose not to answer the online questionnaire. Instead, input to the consultation was provided through direct statements.  The internet questionnaire was criticised as being inappropriate to provide serious debate on development co-operation.  It was specially underlined that such a consultation, which is becoming a common procedure within the Commission, steers the discussion by assuming agreement on basic issues and fails to provide sufficient space for commenting on other issues that have not been appropriately, if at all, raised.

Despite these criticisms, the Commission evaluates the consultation – with 346 responses to the questionnaire - “as a big success”.  The EC Forest Platform hopes that the detailed analysis of the consultation, which will be made public in April 2005, includes both quantitative and qualitative submissions.

Initial results of the questionnaire expose the lameness of the EC development policy, which does not consider environmental concerns as equal to economic and social issues.  The importance of environmental concerns for developing countries is widely stressed by questionnaire respondents:  64.5 per cent of the answers call for the environment to be considered at the same level as economic and social development in the dialogue with developing countries, and a 44.5 per cent request that alternative mechanisms are developed to address global environmental issues in developing countries (1).

Other points that must be incorporated in this analysis include the request to provide a clear commitment to a distinct and coherently managed development policy dedicated to achieving poverty eradication through sustainable development, and to identify indigenous peoples’ rights – often the most marginalised populations in society - as one of the cross-cutting priorities.  Both demands have been backed up by numerous direct statements.

We have yet to see if such broad civil society recognition gives forests and forests peoples their correct place in the future development policy.

(1) A short statistical overview about the results of the online questionnaire is available (see the links below).

RELATED LINKS
Current Development Policy Statement (Nov 2000) http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/legislation/docs/council_statement.pdf
Commission’s consultation site http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/consultation/index_en.htm <http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/consultation/index_en.htm>
Commission’s Issues Paper (Jan 2005) http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/consultation/doc/Issues_Paper_EN.pdf
ECDPM – ICEI – ODI (Feb 2005)
Assessment of the EC Development Policy. Available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/tmp_docs/ecdpm_report.pdf#zoom=100
Commission’s statistical overview of the online questionnaire (Mar 2005) in English http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/consultation/doc/Stat_IPM_EN.pdf in French http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/consultation/doc/Stat_IPM_FR.pdf



7. EU financial framework 2007-2013 discussion continues

The EU financial allocation for 2007-2013 (Financial Perspectives) and the funding instruments are currently being examined by the European Parliament and the Council (see also Platform News issues 4 and 5).

The joint advocacy of environmental, human rights, development and social NGOs, including the EC Forest Platform, contributed to the unanimous rejection by the Development Committee of the Parliament, of the proposed regulation for a funding instrument for development co-operation (see Platform News issue 5). The Parliament report asks, among others, for separate instruments for co-operation with developing and non-developing countries and for Parliament to have a clear role in the establishment of development policy objectives and spending amounts.

The temporary committee on the financial allocation will vote this month on the report on Parliament’s priorities. The EC Forest Platform has worked together with the main environmental and development NGOs in Brussels to ensure that the role of environmental degradation in poverty alleviation is not neglected.  This is a timely development, after the UN has presented its Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (see below), with clear conclusions stating that the Millennium Development Goals won’t be met if environmental degradation continues at the current rate.

 

8. Uncertain future for the Environment and Forests budget lines

In March 2005, the European Commission finalised its evaluation of the regulations underpinning the allocation of EC aid to environment and forest activities in developing countries with an open seminar.(1)  Of the 342 million earmarked under these regulations for 2000-2006 (including 249 million for forests), the evaluation covers the 116 million spent in 2000-2002. (see the links below)

The evaluation highlights the contribution of these budget lines to involve the EC in global environmental processes, and as a complement to the limited environment and forests interventions under geographic co-operation with partner countries.  It notwithstanding fails to define appropriately the added value of the projects financed under these initiatives:

  • They play an important role in poverty alleviation because they tackle the dependence of poor communities on natural resources
  • They make it possible to support pressing environmental issues that are critical for a partner country but have failed outside geographic programming (due to the constraints of low aid budgets and the four-year time horizons of national politics, Southern country governments cannot often chose other than short time-span issues as their co-operation priorities).
  • They give flexibility from the host government, allowing them to directly support the crucial role played by local civil society in the process of promoting environmental protection

The evaluation is critical of inefficient administrative procedures and the Commissions failure to learn from past experience. It underlines, as exposed previously by NGOs (2), the failure of both partner governments and the EC to incorporate forest-related issues into Country and Regional Strategy Papers where recipient governments set their development priorities, and through which they should obtain the bulk of their development funds.  Yet at the same time, it also recommends opening up these separate funds to those governments, thereby limiting funds available for civil society groups, who have little access to funding via CSPs.

Main recommendations include the continuation of budget lines beyond 2006 and an increase in funding for these sectors.  However, since the future of these lines will be ruled out under the Commissions proposed restructuring of EC aid (see Platform News issues 4 and 5), it seems that it will fall within the Commissions discretion to provide continued funding for forests and forest peoples issues in the future.

(1)  Regulation (EC) 2493/2000 on measures to promote the environmental dimension in developing countries, and 2494/2000 on measures to promote the conservation and sustainable management of forests in developing countries.
(2)
FERN (2002) Forests at the Edge. Dec 2002, page 66.

RELATED LINKS
DRN-ADE-NCG-ECO (Nov 2004) Evaluation of the Environment and Forests Regulations 2493/2000 and 2494/2000. Evaluation for the European Commission http://europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/evaluation/program/sectorrep.htm


N e w s f r o m around the World

9. Illegal timber shipment from the Amazon blocked in Portugal

On 22 March 2005, activists from Greenpeace and Quercus, the largest environmental organisation in Portugal, blocked the entrance of a timber carrier in the Portuguese port of Leixões, in an attempt to stop a shipment of timber from companies known to be involved in illegal logging in the Amazon from being unloaded. This protest exposes Portugal's role as a European gateway for illegal timber.

The action aimed to challenge the new Portuguese Government to take a strong public stand in full support of the European Union's action plan to tackle the trade in illegal timber (see above) and to back new European legislation to prohibit the import of illegally logged timber.

The timber carrier contained over 253,000 US dollars from the Brazilian Amazon, including wood from at least four companies convicted in Brazil of supplying illegal timber. The Brazilian Amazon has one of the world's highest rates of forest destruction.  In 2003, Amazon deforestation reached 24,000 km2 - an area equivalent to almost one third of Portugal. The State of Para, the principal exporter of Amazon timber to Portugal, accounts for over one-third of the total Amazon deforestation in Brazil. This deforestation has been driven by over four decades of illegal and destructive logging and the clearance of forest land for activities such as cattle ranching.

Portugal is the world’s 5th largest importer of timber from the Brazilian Amazon and a significant importer of timber from other natural forest areas.  Whilst other major EU importers of timber such as Germany, UK, France and Belgium have supported the rapid implementation of European measures to tackle illegal timber, the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT), Portugal has not shown the same commitment.  Even when seven EU Member States made a joint declaration encouraging the Commission to come forward with further legislative options to control imports of illegally harvested timber during a meeting of the EU Council in December 2004, Portugal did not support this declaration.

At the end of 2004, Greenpeace and Quercus asked a number of Portuguese timber importers to support the campaign for EU legislation to stop the import of illegal timber. Two of them, Sardinha & Leite and Sonae Industria have now declared their support (see the link below for the statement). The organisations are now calling on all Portuguese importers to reject any timber onboard the shipment that comes from companies with convictions for illegal logging.

RELATED LINKS
A statement promoted by FERN, WWF and Greenpeace and signed by over 70 European companies calling for EU legislation to outlaw the imports of illegal wood products (Apr 2005) http://www.panda.org/downloads/europe/industrystatementonflegt.pdf


10. Sarayacu ask oil company CGC to leave Ecuador

The Sarayacu Indians urge the government of Ecuador to comply orders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to protect their indigenous community. The resolution, adopted on 6 July 2004, ordered the Government of Ecuador to take all necessary steps to protect the life and integrity of members of the Sarayaku indigenous community. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has now summoned the parties to a hearing on 11 May 2005 to consider arguments regarding the Government’s continuing non-compliance. The Sarayaku are facing the imminent destruction of their territory by oil interests due to a government-auctioned concession of their land.

The government of Ecuador and the CGC oil company, who received a government-auctioned concession to Sarayacu’s land in 1996, denounced on 7 April 2005 that Sarayacu’s problem attacks the sovereignty of Ecuador. This public statement reiterates once more the intention to allow oil extraction activities at any cost.

The Sarayaku community maintains that the extraction of oil from their territory will damage their environment and way of life, as has been the case with other Amazonian indigenous communities. Due to their opposition to the concessions, the community has been the subject of a campaign of intimidation, including death threats and physical abuse.

In response, the Sarayaku made the first of several petitions to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR), a principal organ of the Organisation of American States (OAS).  The petition alleged that CGC and the Ecuadorian military had violated not only international human rights law but also the Constitution of Ecuador, which guarantees the collective rights of indigenous peoples to maintain ancestral possession of their lands and to be consulted about plans for exploration of non-renewable resources on their lands.

In May 2003, the IACHR ordered Ecuador to protect the Sarayaku community, extending later after members of the Sarayaku community continued to experience death threats and 200 were physically and verbally assaulted.  At the time, Ecuador's Minister of Energy and Mines is reported to have responded to the IACHR’s precautionary measures by stating that "the OAS does not give orders here" ("la OEA no manda aquí").

The Inter-American Commission responded by requesting provisional measures from the Court, legally binding for all OAS Member States that have recognised the Court’s jurisdiction, such as Ecuador.  A decision on the merits of the case remains pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but is expected during its October 2005 session.

A ruling in favour of the Sarayaku would have significant implications for the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.  A favourable ruling would hold that governments can not unilaterally grant concessions to companies to exploit natural resources such as oil, gas, mining or timber without the free and informed consent of the indigenous communities that occupy the land.

A final ruling from the Commission on the merits of the case would result in it being sent to the Court by 2006 for a final, binding resolution of the matter.

RELATED LINKS
Ruling by the Inter-American Commission on behalf of the Sarayaku (Oct 2004). http://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/2004eng/Ecuador.167.03eng.htm
Sarayacu’s website http://www.sarayacu.com/


R e s o u r c e s

11. Understanding EU intricacies: new briefings and publications

 

Aid trace in the Forest: Development Aid Scheme in Forest Sector in Indonesia Case Study South Central Kalimantan Production Forest Project (Dec 2004): This Telapak briefing note finds that a 39 million euro EC-Indonesian Forestry project aiming to achieve sustainable forest management did not deliver due to the lack of public participation. The briefing can be downloaded in English. http://www.telapak.org/project/download/SCKPFP_briefing_final_E.pdf, and Indonesian http://www.telapak.org/project/download/SCKPFP_briefing_final_BI.pdf

 

EU Donor Atlas: Mapping Official Development Assistance (May 2004): A European Commission mapping exercise of the EU official development assistance (ODA) worldwide and profiles of EU donors. ODA from the new Member States, not currently members of the OECD, is not included. http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/tmp_docs/zoom=100

 

Forests, natural disasters and human security: Examining the Linkages (April 2005): The latest issue of arborvitae, the joint IUCN/WWF Forest Conservation Newsletter, explores the role that forests play in natural disasters – tsunamis, floods, droughts, landslides – and the way forest preservation reduces the vulnerability of people to such disasters. The issue concludes that the basics for achieving forest conservation and disaster reduction are the same – reducing poverty, ensuring local rights and promoting good governance. http://www.iucn.org/themes/fcp/publications/arborvitae/avnewsletter/arborvitae27.pdf


 funding labyrinth. The guide is available at a price of 39 from: publication@ecas.org. See as well ECAS webpage http://www.ecas.org

 

8. What is the EC Forest Platform?

In July 2002 FERN launched the EC (European Community) Forest Platform. The Platforms aim is to ensure that EC development co-operation (10 per cent of the worlds Official Development Assistance) has a positive impact on forests and forest people. Its mains goals are:

  • Give a voice to NGOs and forest peoples who want to present their issues to the European Community;
  • Debate the impact of EC aid policies and projects on forests and forests peoples;
  • Provide EC policy makers with on the ground information about forests and forest peoples;
  • Encourage greater co-operation and dialogue between EU based NGOs and Southern NGOs, community-based organisations and indigenous peoples organisations.

Platform activities should contribute to a better implementation of commitments made by the European Commission with regard to development co-operation, environmental integration and recognition of civil society as an active partner. Exchanges between European-based Environmental NGOs and Southern NGOs should contribute to raising awareness among Northern Environmental NGOs about development-related problems faced by people in the South.

 

For more information or to become a member of the EC Forest Platform, visit our website http://www.fern.org/pages/aid/platform.htm or send an e-mail to the Platform co-ordinator, Iola Leal Riesco, iola@fern.org