On 19 October 2022, the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire concluded negotiations for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The Agreement will help improve forest governance, fight against illegal logging and support Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to improve the management of its natural resources.
The conclusion of the negotiations celebrated on 19 October materialises with the initialling, an administrative procedure that confirms that both parties adhere to the content of the Agreement. The next step for Côte d’Ivoire and the EU will be to sign and then ratify the VPA, thus making its commitments legally binding.
Initiated in 2013, the VPA negotiations have been very participatory, including representatives of civil society organisations, the private sector, Ivorian ministries and government agencies, and traditional chiefs.
So far, these negotiations have helped Côte d’Ivoire to implement important legal and policy reforms in the forest sector. This includes recognising the property rights of farmers and landowners, and strengthening requirements for forest planning, management and traceability. The VPA also contributes to a better integration of women in forest resources management.
With the signature in sight, the emphasis will shift to implementing the Agreement. The VPA will put in place a traceability system to ensure that all timber traded on the Ivorian domestic market, as well as international markets, is legal. This includes trade with the EU, but also regional timber trade.
Besides forest governance and timber legality, the VPA will also contribute to better forest management, transparency and accountability in the sector. This will help in the fight against climate change and increase the Ivorian state’s revenue from a more competitive forestry industry.