Negotiations of a FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Côte d’Ivoire and the European Union (EU) are advancing at a good pace and scheduled to conclude in April 2022. This Agreement aims to improve Ivorian forest governance and ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU are legal. In this context, field tests have been carried out to assess certain key VPA elements and to suggest improvements.
To ensure the legality of timber and timber products exported to the EU, the VPA defines this legality. The legality definition identifies the economic, environmental and social regulatory requirements to be respected by operators and authorities involved in the timber sector.
Before negotiations conclude, stakeholders are assessing the suitability of the legality definition on the ground. In February, a team consisting of representatives of the various stakeholders involved in the negotiations and an international consultant conducted a series of field tests.
The team visited several wood processing units to check that the legal conditions related to workers’ rights were applicable at all stages of the supply chain.
The team also discussed with forestry administrations and local communities to what extent the legal requirements recently adopted to implement the Ivorian Forest Code are being applied on the ground, and whether any difficulties were encountered.
The test report, expected by the end of February, will identify areas for improvement. It will also include recommendations, enabling stakeholders to negotiate an Agreement that is more realistic, applicable and adapted to the Ivorian reality.