On 10 March 2022, representatives of Guyana and the European Union agreed on a detailed roadmap implementing the Guyana-EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve forest governance and verify the trade in legal timber.
“Through the implementation of the VPA, Guyana is further reducing illegal timber trade, modernising timber operations and ensuring forestry brings employment in the formal economy,” said Honorable Vickram Bharrat, MP Minister of Natural Resources. “During our earlier negotiations, Guyana has already addressed key objectives such as the revision of the National Forest Policy and the alignment of the VPA to Guyana’s Constitution as well as international legal texts, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
EU Ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Fernando Ponz Canto, further stated that “timber and timber products covered by valid FLEGT licences automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation. Once Guyana’s Timber Legality Assurance System is fully operational, the EU will allow imports of FLEGT-licensed timber from Guyana to enter the EU market without due diligence checks under the EU Timber Regulation”. The Roadmap agreed will provide significant benefits for Guyana, the Ambassador added: “this is a major step towards more inclusive and sustainable use of Guyana’s formidable forest resources, and a further increase in EU-Guyana trade”.
These achievements show that Guyana is strengthening forest governance through the VPA and other related initiatives and is advancing toward FLEGT licensing. Good governance of Guyana’s forests is crucial to sustainable development. Moreover, it helps both Guyana and the EU contribute to achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals, mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.
During the meeting, the Parties also discussed the establishment of the Guyana-EU VPA Joint Monitoring and Review Committee (JMRC), which will oversee the implementation of the Agreement and includes representatives of all stakeholder groups.
The Parties considered the next steps in the VPA signature and ratification process, which is anticipated to be completed before the end of the year. Representatives of private sector and civil society, including Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations, presented the issues they would like further discussion on. The Parties re-iterated that all forest stakeholders will be involved in the VPA implementation process. Guyana committed to make funds available to support the implementation of the VPA. The EU has already been providing highly significant financial support and is planning to continue to do so in line with the Joint implementation framework both Parties have agreed upon at the pre-JMRC. Additional support is provided by the Norway and the UK.
The next meeting of the Parties is foreseen to take place before the end of 2022.