P l a t f o r m  N e w s

Issue7 - August 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

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


P l a t f o r m Debates
1. EC strategy for co-operation with Central Africa
2. The EC-Indonesia FLEGT Support Project

EU FLEGT update
Disagreements over Cotonou

N e w  p o l i c i e s  from the EU
5. New Framework for the EC Development Policy

N e w s  f r o m  around the World
Forest Watch Ghana initiated court case against the Ghanaian FC
Europe and North Asia (ENA) FLEG Ministerial preparations took off

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

P l a t f o r m  Debates

1. EC strategy for co-operation with Central Africa

Article based on a document by Edith Abilogo, EC Forest Platform focal point in Cameroon


Over the last few months the Cameroonian EC Forest Platform has grown to over 30 members.  The main work of the Platform during this period was the participation in two crucial main debates: the EC annual programme for grants for forests and environmental issues and the development of the EC strategy for co-operation with Central Africa.


On 20 April 2005, EC Forest Platform groups attended a presentation of the EC annual programme for co-operation in the areas of forests and the environment by the delegation of the European Commission in Cameroon (1).  The presentation, which was aimed at informing Cameroonian NGOs on the EC’s programme for forests, allowed the Platform Groups to raise key concerns on this type of financing, which often act as the only mechanism to integrate forests and environment concerns in the EC cooperation programme and which are too large to be accessible to NGO networks in Cameroon.


The first information and consultation meeting between Platform Groups and the Cameroonian government on the mid-term review of the EC strategy for co-operation with Central Africa - took place in Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon, in early June 2005.  The strategy will be defined in a so-called Regional Strategy Paper (RSP), which will set out a multi-annual ‘strategic framework’ for the EC’s central priorities for the region, covering both development assistance and other essential activities such as trade and political cooperation (‘the policy mix’). It will not include thematic programmes, such as the forest programme (see above).  The Regional Strategy Paper is developed at delegation level in collaboration with national governments, EU Members States, other bilateral and multilateral donors, and with representatives of civil society.  Typically such documents contain an outline and assessment of the region’s own development strategies, an analysis of the political, economic and social region situation (2), and the EU response, which should concentrate on a limited number of sectors.  This Regional Strategy Paper is complemented by a Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) which indicates the extent of the resources and how they will be spent over the next years.


The objective of the consultation meeting was to discuss how Cameroonian civil society groups could participate in the development process.  The Platform member demanded a clear role for civil society groups in this debate.  Furthermore, the EC Forest Platform focused on the ECOFAC Project (3), a major EC regional project in the area, and its impact on the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples and on Cameroonian biodiversity.


A study on the implementation of the current Regional Strategy Paper done by Michel Nadon, EMCCA (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa) executive counsellor - which should have fed into the mid-term review, is not yet available to civil society groups, although we have been informed it is finalised. Despite the fact that the mid-term review was initially scheduled to be finalised on mid-July, it seems that this date has been postponed until autumn 2005.  Platform groups are concerned that, despite local authorities seemingly including civil society groups in the debate, they are not being sufficiently informed and involved.


In the coming months, the Platform will continue to follow up on these issues.  Lastly, an EC Forest Platform meeting discussing the voluntary partnership agreement between Cameroon and the EU, under the EU FLEGT action plan (see Platform News issue 6), is planned for September 2005.


(1) This budget line was initially established in 1991, although it was not given a legal basis until 1995 – a Regulation called ‘Operations to Promote Tropical Forests’ -. In 2000 this Regulation was replaced by a new one ((EC) 2492/2000) called ‘On measures to promote the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests and other forests in developing countries’, extending the scope to cover all types of forests. To simplify management and reduce administrative costs, budget line B7-6201 (Tropical Forests) - providing financial resources on measures covered under the 2000 regulation - was merged in 2001 with budget line B7-6200, covering measures on the environment.  In 2004, the merged budget line was reclassified as 21 02 05. This merged budget line provides financial resources to forests and environmental projects, described in Regulation (EC) 2494/2000 ( ‘On measures to promote the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests and other forests in developing countries’), and Regulation (EC) 2493/2000 (‘On measures to promote the full integration of the environmental dimension in the development process of developing countries’).

NOTE. In September 2004 the Commission presented a new proposal for a regulation underpinning all development aid. If this Regulation is approved, it will be the legal basis for future funding for forest issues under EC development cooperation. For more information see Platform News issue 6.


(2) The environmental regional situation is not yet a requirement, which contradicts the need for mainstreaming environmental issues in EC policies and programmes.


(3) ECOFAC is an EC-funded project covering six countries in the Congo basin, including Cameroon. The area has a combined population of 20 million, which is growing by 3.2% yearly. Tropical rainforest stretches over about 670,000 km2 of these countries' territories but this area is dwindling at a rate of almost 1% a year. The EC contribution to this project started in 1992. For more information on the project see the official ECOFAC site http://www.ecofac.org/


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. The EC-Indonesia FLEGT Support Project

By Rina Agustine, EC Forest Platform focal point in Indonesia


The European Commission and the government of Indonesia signed the contract for a forest project entitled FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Support Project on 30 March 2005.  The project, which aims at tackling illegal logging and promoting the role of forests in Indonesia’s sustainable development, was officially launched in Jakarta on 29 June 2005.  The project costs are around 16 million euro, of which the EC contributes around 15 million euro.  According to the EC-Indonesia co-operation strategy (known as Country Strategy Paper or CSP) for 2007-2013, the FLEGT Support Project will be the only forest project that will be implemented during this period, apart from the project Illegal Logging Response Centre (ILRC) that will end in 2006.


In order to ensure a successful outcome of the project, Indonesia’s Civil Society Group (CSG) outlined some key issues that should be addressed.  The Group believes that the goals of the FLEGT Support Project will not be achieved if the project development, implementation and evaluation is not carried out in a transparent way and with the participation of all stakeholders concerned, including local and national Indonesian civil society.  It is also critical that the implementation should consider the decentralisation process in Indonesia – that means the roles of regional and local authorities – and involve not only Jakarta-based authorities but also provincial and local governments.  So far the project has failed to integrate both issues.  For example, in Jambi (one of the two provinces where the project will be implemented) the Civil Society Group has found that the provincial government was not properly informed about the project.  In other words: the project is not transparent and fails to take into account needs and roles of local and regional authorities.


The Indonesia’s CSG has now developed some indicators that could be used to assess the project success. These indicators are that during the project’s implementation:

1)       there will be the prosecution of at least one timber baron;

2)       there will be the adoption of a legality standard and it’s verification system;

3)       there will be at least one case of verification or certification of timber from community forests;

4)       there will be no evidence of corruption and manipulation of financial data.


Furthermore, the Indonesia CSG is calling for the involvement of several ministries in the project. As the European Commission has already noted (1), addressing forest governance implies the involvement of a wide range of actors. It is particularly important that other ministries - especially those with responsibility for law enforcement and trade issues - work together with the Ministry of Forestry (MoF) – the project’s executing agency- to achieve the project’s goals.


(1) European Commission Communication COM (2003) 251 final on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) proposal for an EU Action Plan. Brussels, 21 May 2003.


For more information about the FLEGT Support Project you can read the Telapak FERN Briefing note Finding solutions to illegal logging: civil society and the FLEGT Support Project. Available in English and Indonesian at www.fern.org


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


3. EU FLEGT update


Negotiations on the EU negotiation mandate for the Voluntary Partnership Agreement and the law at EU level to control timber import from partner countries are still ongoing (see Platform News issues 5 and 6).  It is expected that the negotiation mandate will be approved in September 2005 with the Regulation being scheduled for approval in October 2005.


FERN, Greenpeace and WWF organised a conference for European Parliamentarians in April 2005 to get them more involved in the debate at EU level (see Platform News issue 6).  This was successful as the European Parliament is now very interested in the issue. This became clear by the adoption of a Resolution by all the political partners (see links below) on 4 July 2005, calling on the European Commission and the Member States to make strong and rapid progress on the implementation of the FLEGT action plan, including:

1)       the submission by the Commission of a comprehensive legislative proposal that will prohibit the import of all illegally sourced timber and forest products into the EU, regardless of the country of origin, and the promotion of socially and ecologically responsible forest management worldwide as the final objective;

2)       the review of existing national legislation and further legislative options which could be applied with a view to addressing the illegal logging issue and related trade issues;

3)       the establishment of an EU network to facilitate the exchange of information on illegal trading in timber, for customs, administrative and judicial authorities;

4)       ensuring that the voluntary partnership agreements incorporate partnership principles committing producer countries to a time-bound action programme and involving measures to tackle the weaknesses in forest-sector governance, contribute to socially and ecologically responsible forest management and an end to biodiversity loss, and promote social equity and poverty alleviation;

5)       ensuring stronger, effective and meaningful participation of civil society and democratically elected representatives in the negotiation and implementation of FLEGT partnership agreements, as well as in the process of reviewing the partner country’s forest-related laws to identify weaknesses and social and environmental injustices and, where necessary, the drafting of proposals for change;

6)       ensuring the integration of forest law enforcement, governance and trade into the planning and implementation of the next round of Country Strategy Papers (CSPs), in particular in regions and countries with significant forest resources, and provide adequate funds from geographic budget lines in order to build capacity and support implementation of key reforms;


The Voluntary Partnership Agreements

Although formally no negotiations for the VPAs have started, the German, Dutch and UK governments and the Commission have held talks with the governments of Cameroon, Malaysia, Ghana and Indonesia. It may also be that the French Government has had talks with the Gabonese and Congolese governments.  The Spanish government is currently in discussion with the Bolivian government on initiating talks in late 2005. At least one other Latin American country, Ecuador, is interested in participating in such agreement.


The failure or success of this element of the FLEGT process will depend on the critical attitude (or lack thereof) of the Commission delegation in these countries (which are the main negotiators) and the supporting EU Member States.  If they can conclude a partnership agreement with the full inclusion and agreement of most civil society actors (including indigenous communities and local groups) and if the agreement will not just legitimise business as usual and ensures that unjust or destructive laws will be changed, this process could lead to serious improvement in some countries.  However, if the EU seems to be concluding partnership agreements which will legitimise current practices, undermine social struggles and lead to legalising currently illegal practices, we will have to be quick in denouncing the process.  All is still up in the air and it may well be that the situation will vary in different countries depending on the government, the EU delegation and the strength of civil society groups.

EU FLEGT Action Plan:
The Action Plan (May 2003):
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/
European Parliament resolution (Jun 2005) :

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):
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):
FERN, Greenpeace and WWF Principles for FLEGT Partnership Agreements (Jan 2005):

NGO positions:
Facing Reality: how to halt the import of illegal timber in the EU. FERN, WWF and Greenpeace (Apr 2004):

Industry positions:
A statement promoted by FERN, WWF and Greenpeace and signed by over 70 European companies (Apr 2005)

4. Disagreements over Cotonou


On 25 June 2005, the EU and the 77 ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) countries met together to sign the revision of the Cotonou agreement. (1)  Due to the fact that there is serious disagreement over both the review of the recently revised Cotonou co-operation agreement (see Platform News issue 6), and over the economic partnership agreements that are still under negotiation (see Platform News issue 4), the meeting was tense.


The 77 ACP countries, which were under strong pressure from the EU during the negotiations leading to inclusion of the so-called transitory measures into the revised Cotonou agreement (2), formed a united block in discussion against the immediate implementation of these measures from the day the new agreement was signed.  In general, the ACP countries seemed to lack confidence that the EU was seriously committed to improving the situation in the ACP countries, or, indeed, that it even wanted to (as stated at the European Council on 17 June 2005).


The ACP countries demanded that the implementation of the transitory measures would take effect only after ratification of the revised Cotonou Agreement which could take years -, and demanded serious financial support to implement these measures.  The compromise reached was:

§         new measures will be subordinated to the precise amount that the EU will allocate to support these activities;

§         ratification of the renewed Cotonou agreement is expected no later than 18 months from the date of the signature. This means ratification no later than 25 December 2006;

§         an EU proposal on financial support to the ACP countries should therefore be on the table before the end of 2005 for approval by EU Member States.


(1) 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 (see Platform News issue 5)


(2) ‘Transitory measures’ refer to support  the fight against terrorism, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the ratification of the International Criminal Court. With these measures embedded into the Cotonou agreement, eligibility of EC aid will be tied to the acceptance of actions in these fields – or in other words, to accepting the EU external relations agenda. After a strong discussion, ACP countries finally agreed on 28 February 2005 on the inclusion of the transitory measures into the revised agreement.


Cotonou Aid Working Group (June 2005) More than enough reasons to reject the Present review of the Cotonou Agreement

Available from iola@fern.org

N e w  p o l i c i e s  from the EU

5. New Framework for the EC Development Policy


On 13 July 2005, the European Commission presented its proposal for a joint Parliament /Council/ Commission Declaration on the EUs Development Policy (see Platform News issue 6).  The Declaration, which is expected to be jointly approved by the three EU institutions in autumn 2005, will be the basis of future EC support to Southern countries, including support to forest and indigenous peoples issues.


Indigenous peoples issues

The proposed declaration contains improved language on forests and forests peoples than the current Declaration.  The proposal takes on the NGO demands, presented to the Commission in an open letter (see link below) in February 2005 and includes for the first time the need to integrate indigenous peoples issues throughout the development programme (1).  Moreover, indigenous peoples will also be included under the future Democracy and Human Rights Programme, one of the six thematic programmes planned for 2007-2013 (see Platform News issue 6).



As presented by the Commission, the draft declaration incorporates the integration of the environment as an essential element to development.  This recognition underlines EU commitments on environmental issues and reflects the concerns of civil society in Europe and in the South.

This recognition does not come out of the blue. During the months previous to the drafting of the proposal, NGOs in North and South highlighted the importance of environmental issues as equal to economic and social issues in EC aid activities.  This position was visible in the consultation organised by the European Commission on the new development policy (see Platform News issue 6).  The importance of environmental concerns for developing countries was particularly highlighted by Southern respondents, providing some evidence that it is the South that suffers most from the effects of environmental degradation.


But there are of course omissions in the draft document.  FERN is particularly concerned with the failure to include a clear framework for enhancing and monitoring environmental integration and for enhancing coherence among different EU policies.  Without such a framework, the new policy and its associated instruments could undermine development by slashing efforts to ensure sustainable development.


(1) The necessity to integrate indigenous peoples’ rights in EC co-operation activities was first stated in 1998 through a Council resolution.

EU Development Policy
Commission’s proposal for a joint Declaration on the EU Development Policy (Jul 2005) http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/development_policy_statement/index_en.htm
Commission’s consultation site 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
Current Development Policy Statement (Nov 2000) http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/legislation/docs/council_statement.pdf

Report on the public consulation of the Development policy (Jun 2005)
Commission’s statistical overview of the online questionnaire (Mar 2005) in English
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

NGO positions
Joint NGO Statement on Environment
Joint NGO Statement on Indigenous peoples http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/body/theme/consultation/doc/ong/Almaciga_Fern_Iwgia_Gitpa_Amnesty_%20International_Adivasi.pdf

N e w s  f r o m  around the World

6. Forest Watch Ghana initiated court case against the Ghanaian FC


As Ghana’s forests disappear at record rates – up to 95 per cent over the last 15 years - a coalition of Ghanaian NGOs has taken matters into its own hands.  On 22 June 2005, Forest Watch Ghana (1) initiated a court case against the Ghanaian Forestry Commission and the country’s forestry industry.  The group, which has already exposed illegal dealings within Ghana’s timber industry, and published a detailed report on the industry’s impact on its people, is seeking an injunction against logging by any timber company whose permits do not conform strictly to the standards set by the Timber Resources Management Act. It is also hoping to ensure prompt payment of undisputed stumpage together with accrued interest.


While satellite imagery suggests that logging is underway even inside State managed forest reserves, records show that the industry has failed to pay the Ghanaian Forestry Commission around US$ 100 million in fees each year – that’s more than the country’s HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) relief for 2004.  If successful the court case could mean hundreds of millions of dollars returned to the people, the authorities and the Forestry Commission, to help in sustainably managing Ghana’s remaining forests.  Forest Watch Ghana needs all the support it can get.


(1) Forest Watch Ghana is a civil society coalition campaigning for equitable and accountable forest governance.


For further information Contact Al-hassan Adam, Co-coordinator, Forest Watch Ghana, spahassan@yahoo.com


7. Europe and North Asia (ENA) FLEG Ministerial Preparations took off


To prepare for the Ministerial meeting on the Europe and North Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (ENA-FLEG), expected to take place in Saint Petersburg (22-25 November 2005), a preparatory conference was held in Moscow 6 - 8 June 2005.  The conference brought together 130 participants from governments, civil society and industry of 32 countries.  A civil society meeting took place on 5 June 2005 with 15 NGO representatives from 11 countries participating to update each other and develop a strategy for effective participation both in the working groups and in the plenary.


With low expectations for the meeting and a relatively short time for the civil society selection process, the outcome of the meeting positively surprised participants.  After the collapse of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) in New York in May 2005, regional process such as this one are of particular importance.  The results from the two previous FLEG meetings – the Asia FLEG process and the Africa FLEG process – have been up to now disappointing, above all due to the ineffective involvement of civil society and the lack of implementation.  It is important to bear these issues in mind with the ENA-FLEG process and learn from mistakes made.  In the end, the outcome of the meeting will greatly depend on the way comments from all stakeholders, including local civil society, are integrated into the final declaration and on the proposed actions that will follow the Ministerial.


For information on the agenda and how to participate in the process, see the FERN-TRN briefing note Europe and North Asia FLEG: the next steps for civil society (see links below)

ENA-FLEG preparatory conference - Civil society statement http://www.foejapan.org/forest/doc/enafl eg_ngostate.pdf
IISD summary of the preparatory conference http://www.iisd.ca/sd/sdmos/.

World Bank ENA-FLEG website http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/ESSD/ardext.nsf/14ByDocName/ForestGovernanceProgramEuropeandNorthAsiaForestLawEnforcementandGovernance

FERN and TRN briefing notes on the ENA FLEG process
Europe and North Asia FLEG: the next steps for civil society (July 2004)  http://www.fern.org/media/documents/document_1668_1669.pdf . (It will be shortly available in Russian and Chinese)
Europe and North Asia FLEG: a key task for civil society. (December 2004) Available in English at
http://www.fern.org/media/documents/document_241_948.pdf and in Russian at  http://www.fern.org/media/documents/document_241_949.pdf

R e s o u r c e s

8. Understanding EU intricacies: new briefings and publications


Back to the Forest: An evaluation of the EC forest programme in Indonesia and proposals to improve its performance in the future (June 2005): A FERN briefing outlining key reasons for failure under the EC-Indonesia Forest Programme and proposing recommendations to improve the quality of EC aid with the Country. Available at www.fern.org 

Finding solutions to illegal logging: civil society and the FLEGT Support Project (June 2005): A Telapak and FERN briefing explaining the details of the EC-funded project and outlining key practices for a successful outcome. Available in English and Indonesian at www.fern.org 

After the tsunami: the EC, the environment and rebuilding Indonesia (June 2005): A FERN briefing evaluating the EC co-operation plan with the area that was hardest hit by the tsunami: the Indonesia province of Aceh. Available in English at www.fern.org

A Guide to Independent Forest Monitoring (July 2005): A Global Witness publication regarding Independent Forest Monitoring for governments, donors, and NGOs, based on its pioneering work in Cambodia and Cameroon. Available in English at http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00078.html

Forest Law Enforcement in Cameroon. 3rd Summary Report of the Independent Observer: July 2003 February 2005 (April 2005): A Global Witness report outlining the positive impact of three years of Independent Forest Monitoring in Cameroon on forest governance. The report can be downloaded in English http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00072.html and French http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/fr.00072.html.

A Guide to EU funding: Accessing Europes Largest Donor (June 2005): The Euro Citizen Action Service (ECAS) has launched the 11th edition of its Guide to EU funding for NGOs. The guide is an attempt to make EU information accessible for NGOS and to minimise its complexity. It also offers a series of tips and list of contacts designed to help NGOs find their way through the EU 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