Representatives of the EU and Liberia have identified ways to boost implementation of their Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to address illegal logging, improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber products.
The 5th meeting of the EU-Liberia VPA Joint Implementation Committee took place in Monrovia on 5-7 April. It focused on reviewing progress in setting up Liberia’s system to systematically verify timber legality, meeting other VPA requirements on transparency and impact monitoring, and improving the capacities of government agencies, the private sector, civil society and communities.
Liberia’s Forest Development Authority agreed to engage with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning as soon as possible to ensure the sustainability of finances for VPA implementation.
The parties also discussed ways to intensify VPA implementation through more effective use of the joint planning tool they use to monitor progress, identify obstacles and propose and develop solutions.
The meeting’s participants included stakeholders from Liberian government agencies, as well as representatives of the private sector, civil society and communities.
Other topics they discussed included how Liberia can better communicate about progress in forest-sector governance to help inform national and external stakeholders that are looking closely at the sector. The meeting also included sessions on Liberia’s regulatory framework, community forestry or chainsaw milling.
Prior to the meeting, participants went on a field trip to visit a youth training centre, whose USD 46,000 cost was funded by the National Benefit Sharing Trust Fund following a proposal from the Community Forest Development Committee.
The Fund was created after civil society groups used the VPA process to urge the government to pay communities the share of logging fees they were owed. The government agreed to redistribute the community share of funds to the National Benefit Sharing Trust, as foreseen in the national forestry reform law. It has now paid the first USD 1 million into the trust.
Participants also met representatives of logging companies to learn about their concerns and priorities and observe timber production activities