Informing NGOs, MEPs, member states, the European Commission and the media. Issue 88, September 2004.
Current Regulation poses serious threat
Recent developments in Indonesia have now highlighted how a lack of safeguards in the draft EU Regulation to curb illegal timber imports into Europe (see FW no.87) could leave Europe effectively condoning the treatment of indigenous communities as criminals in their own forests,¹ and even sanctioning the death penalty.1 1 See: Down to Earth Bulletin, August 2004 at: http// www.dte.gn.apc.org/
Positive steps towards developing a defined Legality Standard for Indonesia (see FW no.86), could be dramatically set back if a new emergency regulation on illegal logging comes into effect in Indonesia.² The latest draft of this Indonesian regulation, which covers felling, transporting, storing, possessing and distributing illegal timber, sets out a system of penalties including: the death penalty or life imprisonment for financing illegal logging; 5-15 year jail terms plus large fines for ordering or carrying out illegal logging; and 5-7 years plus fines for officials who ignore cases of illegal logging.
Crucially, for local people, the regulation reverts to a very narrow definition of legality, excluding respect for customary rights and the requirement for free, prior informed consent – both of which appear in the draft Legality Standard for Indonesia. Since indigenous rights in forest areas are extremely weak under prevailing Indonesian laws, this could seriously limit the rights of indigenous communities in their customary forests.
Ignoring demands from the Council to ensure that land rights and land tenure issues are addressed properly, and that effective participation of local people is guaranteed, the Commission’s draft fails to include these safeguards. It is now up to the Council to rectify this, the Indonesian case showing that without clear safeguards, the current EU Regulation risks legitimising unacceptable practices, including the death penalty.
2 The regulation was announced initially by Forestry Minister Prakosa in March 2004.
EU Forestry Strategy
The Commission has called for comments from all stakeholders on the “Draft for the Preparation of Commission Staff Working Document” on the implementation of the European Forestry Strategy (see FW no.86). This document will provide the basis for the preparation of a Communication on the implementation of the Strategy. The on-line consultation¹ is open until 15 September 2004.
1 See: http://europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/consultations/forestry/index_en.htm
Changes at the EU
Latest changes within the EU institutions will see Greek lawyer Stavros Dimas taking over from Margot Wallström as the Commissioner for the EU environment portfolio, while German MEP Karl Heinz Florenz will succeed Caroline Jackson as chair of the Parliament’s Environment Committee.
A member of the centre right New Democracy Party, with a political background in industrial and economic policy, Dimas has essentially no ministerial experience in environmental policy, prompting some members of the Environment Directorate to predict “five years of holiday” under the new Commissioner.¹ Meanwhile, the EPP’s Mr Florenz, who has a particular interest in waste legislation, is determined to continue Ms Jackson’s quest to improve national implementation of existing envi-ronmental rules (See FW no.87).
1 ENDS Environment Daily 1713, 16.08.04
This month will see the World Bank/WWF Alliance begin testing their new tool for assessing forest certification systems. Beginning in September 2004, and scheduled to run throughout the autumn, the assessment will be based on a questionnaire developed by the Alliance, with the primary objective being to evaluate the questionnaire itself.
The tests, to be carried out by ProForest, will assess the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) in twelve countries in Eastern and Western Europe. The results will be used to improve the questionnaire and to help in identifying best practices and key attributes for developing good national certification standards.
For more information contact Beatrix Richards, WWF (BRichards@wwf.org.uk) or Gerhard Dieterle, the World Bank (firstname.lastname@example.org), or see: http://www.forest-alliance.org
HEADS UP: key issues and events for your campaign agenda
Climate – Sinks
The British Advertising Standards Au-thority (ASA) has accepted a complaint from FERN (see FW no. 85) and a deci-sion by the ASA’s Council is now imminent. The complaint relates to an advert claiming that planting trees will neutralise greenhouse gas emissions from phone calls. Meanwhile, as the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) prepares to announce the final list of projects for registration with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), FERN will step up its calls on PCF investors to drop ‘Plantar’ (the world’s first carbon sink project aiming to sell carbon credits) and will urge governments discussing the post-2012 climate regime to exclude biological carbon accounting from future fossil fuel emission reduction targets.
Certification: As various EU Member States are developing procurement policies which include demands for certified timber, the Commission is preparing to present its “Green Procurement Handbook”. Contributing to the certification debate, FERN will publish a briefing outlining principles for credible certification schemes in November, and is due to carry out a critical review of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) plantation certifications, which will start in September.
Illegal logging: Activities against illegal logging at EU level will almost certainly backfire if there remain no clear minimum requirements for partnership agreements between the EU and producer countries. FERN will develop a discussion paper covering the EU licensing scheme, principles for partnership agreements and detailed comments on the draft EU Regulation to ban illegal imports from partner countries.
Aid, trade and investment
Export Credit Agencies (ECAs): FERN will
co-host a strategy discussion on "ECAs
and transparency" in Brussels in September, and will publish two
briefings – one on the OECD Agreement and one on positive and negative
developments within European ECAs.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Cotonou under review: Agreed inititally in 2000, and neither ratified nor implemented before 2003, the Cotonou Agreement is already under revision. FERN is concerned that some ongoing decisions, concerning responsibilities within certain EU bodies, could empower the Commission to the detriment of others – including the states and civil society of the 77 African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries involved in the agreement. It is anticipated that the current review will be finalised by February 2005, but will civil society be consulted?
ECA campaign launches new website: September 2004 sees the launching of a new website for the Iberian Campaign to reform Export Credit Agencies (ECAs). The website, www.eca-iberia.org, will have information in Spanish and Portuguese on ECAs in general, the Spanish ECA CESCE and its Portuguese counterpart COSEC. It will also cover both individual projects and topical issues, such as ECAs and: environment, human rights, corruption, unproductive expenditure, transpar-ency, renewable energy and debt.
7-10 September: UNFF ad hoc expert group on a legal framework for forests. NY, USA
9 September: FSC meeting on plantations. Bonn, Germany
10-12 September: FSC annual meeting. Bonn, Germany
20-24 September: 7th Taiga Rescue Network Biennial Meeting. Vladivostok, FE Russia
20 October: Council Working Group on illegal logging. Brussels, Belgium
Watch is published by FERN, the forest campaign group focusing on EU
To unsubscribe please send an email to email@example.com requesting removal from our list.
Avenue des Celtes, 1040 Brussels, Belgium. http://www.fern.org/|
Tel: +32 (0)2 742 2436. Fax: +32 (0)2 736 8054. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FERN, 1c Fosseway Business Centre, Stratford Road, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucester, GL56 9NQ, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)1608 652 895. Fax: +44 (0)1608 652 878. E-mail: email@example.com
PHOTO: Kakamega Forest.
Half of Kenya’s only tropical rainforest has already been lost. What is left provides a unique sanctuary for biodiversity and a vital resource for local people, many of whom depend on it for fuel, medicine and food. Credit: A. Arbib.