In September, Fern’s civil society partners from the Congo Basin, West Africa and South East Asia came to Brussels to talk with policymakers about deforestation’s impact - on landscapes as well as people.
More specifically, they shared their expertise on how the EU can tackle its responsibility for destroying forests around the world, and to highlight the potential ramifications of its proposed Regulation on deforestation-free products.
These partners have worked for years strengthening forest governance in their countries and the timber trade deals that their countries have signed with the EU have helped them do just that. To varying degrees, Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) have given them, and forest communities, a seat at the policy-making table for the first time.
This newsletter distills some of our partners’ messages, and features articles by Christian Mounzéo from Congo, Bakary Traoré from Cote d’Ivoire and Justin Kamga from Cameroon. While the picture in their homelands vary, strikingly common themes emerged in their assessments of the EU’s draft Regulation.
All welcome the legislation and the EU’s effort to stop imports of deforestation-risk commodities. Yet all also call for clarity on the impact it will have on VPAs and ongoing forest governance reforms.
For the Regulation to succeed, it is essential that civil society is consulted and involved in the long run.
These articles also outline other shortcomings, which if implemented are likely to thwart the aim of ending the deforestation embedded in imports, while at the same time undermining - perhaps fatally - the inclusive, multi-stakeholder processes that have enabled VPAs to improve transparency and accountability.
The overarching message is simple: dialogue with those on the ground is essential and urgent. We hope EU decisionmakers heed this as they embark on the long road to implement the Regulation on deforestation-free products.