Guyana’s implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) goes far beyond giving the country access to export timber to a lucrative market.
The VPA is a critical component of the Forest Law and Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. It would ensure that timber from Guyana is EU-certified in a manner that follows best practices in sustainable forest management, before it is exported to any of the 27 EU Member States.
This was disclosed by Head of the Guyana Forestry Commission’s FLEGT Secretariat, Mr. Kenny David, during an interview with the DPI.
“What the VPA is bringing for us is not just access to a market but an improved way of doing business in the country, improving systems, improving connectivity, building capacity and so it is more than just the market. It is actually working with the sector to improve the products that we are actually bringing to the market,” Mr. David stated.
The recent four-day virtual learning and networking event “The Markets, Technologies and Communities: Lessons and Experiences for the Forest and Wood Product Sector in Guyana,” played a critical role in that effort, Mr. David said.
The event was used to allow Guyana and its stakeholders to learn from the experiences of other countries, which are ahead of Guyana in the implementation of the VPA.
One of the key takeaways, Mr. David said, is that “it is critical to have stakeholders involved. A few of the countries shared very clearly that they needed to have stakeholders always involved in the process and kept close because you want that ownership. Whatever you are developing, it helps if your stakeholders are involved every step of the way, so at the end, they feel like they have accomplished something rather than to have the Forestry Commission forcing something on them.”
Another key takeaway was how the Commission could use technology to manage and track its timber from the time it is cut to when it is exported. This will help Guyana to move away from the paper trail process.
Additionally, Mr. David said, the event also helped Guyana to realign its focus on the type of timber it will export, targeting a specific market.
In December 2012, Guyana and the EU initiated conversation on the VPA. Once the VPA is formally implemented, Guyana will be able to issue FLEGT licences to verified legal timber products for export.