On 15 December, the European Union and the Government of Guyana signed a legally binding trade agreement to promote sustainable trade of legal timber to the EU. The signing of this deal, known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), took place at the 15 Biodiversity COP in Montreal.
The VPA will give EU-based timber buyers assurance that timber products from Guyana are legal. It will help improve forest governance, tackle illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products. Through the implementation of the VPA, the country will improve market access for law-abiding businesses, as well as modernise its forestry sector, create jobs, promote sustainable development and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
Under the VPA, Guyana commits to developing a timber legality assurance system to assess that timber products – for all stages of the supply chain – have been produced in accordance with national legislation. When this system is operational, Guyana can issue verified legal timber products with FLEGT licences. The licence certifies that the timber or timber products exported under that licence are legal.
Guyana is the first country in the Amazon region and the second in the Americas – following Honduras – to sign a VPA on forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) with the European Union. The signature marks the end of a 10-year negotiation process, and consolidates Guyana’s position as a frontrunner in the protection, restoration, and sustainable management of forests.
Following the signing of the deal, Guyana and the EU each need to ratify the VPA, according to their respective procedures. Forest stakeholders as the private sector, indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society, have all been closely involved in the negotiation of the agreement, alongside with the Government and EU representatives. They will continue to play a key role throughout the implementation phase.
In parallel to the VPA, Guyana is also one of the first five countries worldwide that signed a Forest Partnership with the EU. The aim of such a partnership is to strengthen cooperation on forests and make an important contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including addressing the challenges of climate change.