As decision makers in the European Union (EU) and timber producing countries consider the future of the FLEGT Action Plan, and its Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA), civil society organisations and platforms from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Honduras, Indonesia, Republic of the Congo, Vietnam, and Europe have issued Making VPAs work for forests, people and the climate a new briefing with recommendations for how to strengthen and upgrade the VPAs.
The briefing reflects on progress after a decade of implementation including looking at multi stakeholder participation, increased transparency and reduced illegal deforestation. It suggests concrete ways to address challenges and step up current efforts including increased enforcement of just laws, enhanced policy coherence, and inclusive decision making. If the proposed changes are taken on board, VPAs will continue to effectively contribute to governance improvements, forest protection and sustainable local livelihoods.
With growing recognition of the importance of forests for delivering climate and development goals, the EU and partner countries must refocus their efforts on VPAs. They are a unique experiment in working with all parties to tackle the underlying drives of deforestation such as over consumption and poor land rights. Now is the time to ensure that VPAs deliver on their promise and are ready to respond to the rapidly changing global environment.