On 27 October 2022, representatives of Guyana and the European Union met to discuss the implementation of their Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The Agreement will help improve forest governance and sustainable forestry, and verify the trade in legal timber.
According to René Van Nes, Ambassador of the European Union to Guyana, “the VPA spearheads Guyana as a global pioneer of sustainable forest management.”
During the meeting, the Parties indicated they will endeavour to sign the Agreement before the end of 2022. The VPA will raise industry standards and living conditions of the sector. After Guyana and the EU sign and ratify the VPA, its commitments will become legally binding. The Parties intend to give high international visibility to such an important milestone, noting the groundbreaking and innovative nature of the Agreement.
The signature and subsequent ratification will mark the end of a 10-year negotiation process. Guyana will thereupon join a selected group of Asian, African and American countries committed to the protection of their forests. Guyana will become the first VPA country in the Amazon region, and the second in the Americas, after Honduras; making it a frontrunner in sustainable forest management, adhering to the highest international standards.
Through the VPA’s implementation, Guyana will further strengthen the sustainable use of its forest resources, reduce illegal timber trade and better modernise timber operations, thereby ensuring that forestry brings green jobs in the formal economy. The VPA also includes commitments to improve transparency, accountability, legislative clarity and other aspects of governance.
The Honorable Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Vickram Bharat, stated that “the Pre-JMRC meetings continue to highlight Guyana’s continued commitment to the VPA process and the broader initiatives to improve forest governance. He further stated that the VPA and the agreements reached are all part of the Government’s commitment under the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 aimed at promoting a green economy”
Good governance of Guyana’s forests is crucial to sustainable development. Moreover, it helps both Guyana and the EU contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including by mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.
The Parties agreed to focus their efforts on the further development and implementation of strengthened operational procedures for the sector, and a robust paper-based and digital traceability system of logs and timber that meets the VPA’s requirements. To ensure these priorities will be met in time, Guyana and the EU agreed on a detailed workplan.
The Parties also discussed how they will continue to engage with national and international stakeholders interested in VPA implementation. They committed to putting in place a range of tools to ensure that interested audiences can follow the developments and impacts of VPA implementation.
Representatives of the private sector and civil society, including indigenous peoples’ organisations, presented the issues they would like to bring to the table. Guyana and the EU also discussed next steps in the development of an approach to protect the traditional rights of Amerindian peoples.
The next meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Review Committee, which reviews progress of the implementation of the Guyana-EU FLEGT VPA, is scheduled to take place in May 2023.
• Mr. Kenny David – Head of FLEGT Secretariat +592 227 5595
• Mr. Javin Singh – Press and information officer of the EU Degelation to Guyana +592 226 4004
Notes to editors
Guyana and the EU negotiated the terms of the VPA through a cooperative process: both Parties share the goal of fostering good forest governance and addressing illegality.
The VPA negotiations began in December 2012. They involved the private sector, Government ministries and agencies, and indigenous peoples. Through wide participation, the process aimed to foster significant national ownership, stakeholder engagement and a broad consensus that would promote effective VPA implementation.
Guyana and the EU concluded VPA negotiations in 2018 and initialled the VPA in November. After Guyana and the EU sign and ratify the VPA, its commitments will become legally binding. A Guyana-EU joint body will oversee the implementation of the VPA and respond to concerns as they arise. VPA implementation can therefore improve as it proceeds.
Under the VPA, Guyana commits to developing a timber legality assurance system so it can issue verified legal timber products with FLEGT licences.
A FLEGT licence is an export licence issued by a VPA partner country for timber or timber products destined for the EU market. The licence certifies that the timber or timber products exported under that licence are legal. Timber and timber products covered by valid FLEGT licences automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). The EUTR prohibits the placing onto the EU market of illegally harvested timber and timber products derived from such timber. It requires operators who place timber or timber products on the market for the first time to exercise due diligence to make sure that timber and timber products are legal. FLEGT licensed timber will not be subject to due diligence checks.
Once Guyana’s timber legality assurance system is operational, Guyana commits to export to the EU only FLEGT-licensed timber products. The EU commits to allow imports of FLEGT-licensed timber from Guyana to enter the EU market without due diligence checks.
Guyana’s representatives on the Joint Monitoring and Review Committee (JMRC) are drawn from government institutions as well as from the private sector and civil society. The European Union is represented by the EU Delegation to Guyana and officials from the European Commission in Brussels.
More details of the JMRC discussions can be found in the meeting’s summary (aide-memoire), which will be published on the website of the Forestry Commission of Guyana.
More information on the Guyana–EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement
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