Strengthening Press and Media Relations for the Guyana-European Union Voluntary Partnership Agreement

The Guyana Forestry Commission, with support from the Food and Agricultural Organisation -European Union (FAO-EU) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme, hosted a one-day Press Field Day with local media personnel on October 27, 2020. It brought together media representatives from the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Guyana Chronicle, Stabroek News, the Guyana Times and News Room Guyana.

The intention of the field day, organised by the Guyana-EU FLEGT Secretariat, was to sensitise the media on the Joint Implementation Framework (JIF) for the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Guyana and the EU. Another objective of the event was to provide the press with journalistic approaches that will strengthen their reporting efforts on the JIF process and to discuss their role in the flow of information.

Members of the Press and FLEGT Secretariat Staff and FLEGT Facilitator

Members of the Press and FLEGT Secretariat Staff and FLEGT Facilitator

The event reinforced the VPA’s commitment to transparency, accountability, awareness. It also affirmed Guyana’s willingness to improve trust in the VPA process by building a good relationship with the media that ensures regular access to, and exchange of, information for public release.

A priority action of the JIF, which guides and monitors the implementation of the VPA, is the continuous and consistent dissemination of information. The VPA establishes that local press sessions are necessary to provide updates on the advances and milestones of the VPA implementation to communicate the results and impacts of the Guyana-EU Agreement effectively. The media are also considered principal intermediaries among the VPA’s diverse country stakeholders and an integral part of Guyana’s EU FLEGT VPA journey.

In his opening remarks, the Head of the FLEGT Secretariat Kenny David said that the media’s role is fundamental for enhancing stakeholder communication. He said that the press has the power to disseminate and develop messages that support Guyana’s efforts in the JIF process and builds public confidence. He also recognised the press’s ability to translate the VPA into a language that effectively conveys messages for the public to understand and appreciate.

The event commenced with a background on the JIF, including its strategic objectives, priority actions and support mechanisms followed with a presentation on Multi-Stakeholder Coordination by the FLEGT Facilitator, Lawrence Lachmansingh. The final presentation, a reporting guide, outlined how the information will flow to the press and how GFC intends to connect with the media to increase public awareness. The press were also encouraged to provide feedback on the event to improve cooperation and dialogue for the future.

FLEGT Secretariat Communications Specialist, Tanika Jones, extended gratitude to the media for their support. She emphasised that GFC, through the FAO-EU FLEGT programme, remains devoted to developing effective and strong press relations throughout this process.

In November 2018, Guyana and the EU concluded negotiations towards the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which once ratified would commit both parties to trade only legal timber and timber products. As part of this process, the GFC, through the National Technical Working Group and the FLEGT Secretariat, is actively working to promote awareness of FLEGT throughout Guyana.

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