Ivory Coast and the European Union agree to join efforts to fight illegal logging of forests
On December 21, 2012, M. Daniel Kablan DUNCAN, Prime Minister of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire wrote to EU Development Commisionner Andris Piebalgs to request the opening of negotiation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (VPA FLEGT). This request follows a long preparatory phase during which information dissemination and consultation took place, in Abidjan and in the regions, with the participation of a broad range of stakeholders from Government, local authorities, civil society organizations, local communities and the private sector. In his letter, the Prime Minister highlights that "Ivory Coast is aware of the role that forests play in the national economy (150,000 m3 of timber exported per year), in ecological processes and in environment protection. Ivory Coast is equally concerned by the reduction of the forest cover that has shrunk from 12 million ha in 1960 to 2.5 million ha today. The country spares no effort to improve forest management and ensure a sustainable economic and social balance. It is engaged with determination in a reforestation policy aiming at rehabilitating a forest cover in constant degradation. The FLEGT process could help to consolidate such a policy. (…) In the medium term, this process should allow Ivory Coast to address the great challenge of good forest governance, which will contribute to the country's emergence by 2020, according to the vision of the President of the Republic, his Excellency Alassane Ouattara."
In his response, Andris Piebalgs, the EU Commissioner for Development, expressed his delight to see Ivory Coast formally engaging in the FLEGT VPA process. "This initiative emphasizes your Government's commitment to a healthy and performing forest industry that contributes to the sustainable management of ecosystems and meets the challenges of a harmonious development of the country. Sustainable forest management and good forest governance are important questions for Europe. The FLEGT VPA process will establish a partnership between the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and the European Union to join efforts to combat illegal logging. (…) I have therefore requested my staff to formally launch the negotiation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, governance and trade between the EU and Ivory Coast."
Ivory Coast is one of the main tropical timber exporters to the EU market. It is an important partner of the European Union and its Member States in West Africa, bordered by two countries that have concluded VPA negotiations: Liberia and Ghana. Both Parties are actively preparing the first negotiation session.
The Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) is the EU response to the illegal logging of forests and its devastating impacts on forest communities, on the environment and on the economy of developing countries. The Action Plan combines measures in timber producer countries (supply side) with measures in consumer countries (demand side). Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) are at the core of FLEGT implementation. VPAs are bilateral trade agreements between the EU and tropical wood exporting countries, which aim to improve forest governance and guarantee that the wood imported into the EU is from legal sources.
FLEGT program is managed by DEVCO Unit C2 – Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources and Water.