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"Tackling deforestation and illegal logging conference: Progress made and opportunities for future action", 21-23 June 2017

Addressing the global challenges of illegal logging and deforestation have been and continues to remain a priority for the European Union (EU) especially in the light of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Following the recent reviews of its flagship initiative to address illegal logging and the associated trade - the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade ("FLEGT Action Plan") - the European Commission has been working towards the development of a work plan to guide strategic management, planning and monitoring for FLEGT implementation. At the same time, the European Commission is also considering the feasibility of options to step up EU action to combat deforestation and forest degradation as a follow-up to the 7th Environment Action Programme and the 2013 EU Forest Strategy.

In this context, the European Commission (EC) invited stakeholders on 21-23 June 2017 to take stock of progress, achievements and challenges as well as to explore opportunities for enhancing implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan, as well as for potential further EU action against deforestation. The conference, co-organised by DG DEVCO and DG ENV in Brussels, gathered more than 250 representatives from timber producer and consumer countries, private sector and civil society, indigenous and local communities, European Union Member States, and international organisations. It was organised in two parts: the first part focused on illegal logging, in particular on future implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan and the second part on the challenges of deforestation. The full agenda of the conference is available here. Presentations can be downloaded by clicking on the respective speaker.

On FLEGT, the conference confirmed the strong commitment to the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan and served as a useful platform to obtain stakeholders' input on the draft working paper for FLEGT implementation prepared by the EC. On the issue of deforestation, the conference demonstrated the strong interest from a wide range of stakeholders on stepping up EU action and provided an opportunity to present preliminary findings of the ongoing feasibility study and obtain initial input to inform the completion of the study.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said in his opening speech that the conference was a major opportunity for international partners and stakeholders to exchange views and provide input to shape future EU action to tackle illegal logging and wider deforestation challenges. Stefano Manservisi, Director-General for International Cooperation and Development said in his opening speech that forests are a global public good and the EU’s efforts to address the challenges forests face — including through the FLEGT Action Plan — are part of the wider agenda for development.

Frances Seymour who after several years at the Center for Global Development in Washington recently re-joined the World Resources Institute offered her facilitation skills in guiding the panels and the audience through the conference.

Simultaneous interpretation from and to English, French and Spanish was available while the conference was streamed live on the web and a hashtag (#TDIL) was introduced on Twitter allowing for an even wider participation and expression of views. For more detailed information please consult the full report of the illegal logging and deforestation part of the conference.