Ghana, European Union affirm commitment towards Voluntary Partnership Agreement

The Government of Ghana and the European Union (EU) have reaffirmed their commitment towards an effective implementation of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

A statement issued by the EU Delegation in Ghana in Accra on Monday said this was announced at the Fourth meeting of the VPA Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM) in Accra.

The Ghana-EU JMRM ensures an effective development of systems needed to implement the agreement and to follow up on commitments of both parties.

The meeting provided the parties with the opportunity to have a firsthand discussion on how to develop a framework for monitoring the impacts of the Agreement.

Ghana became the first timber-producing country to sign a VPA with the EU in November 2009.

Following Ghana’s lead, five other countries have also concluded VPAs, and many more are currently in a process of VPA negotiations.

Both parties are fully committed to taking all necessary measures for the issuance of FLEGT licenses by March 2013, when a new EU regulation requiring importers to carry out due diligence to assure the legality of timber products, comes into effect.

The statement said during the meeting, the parties discussed progress on implementation of the Agreement.

Updates were provided on the components of the Legality Assurance System (LAS) – in particular the progress on the wood tracking system, the legality verification protocols and the independent monitoring of the system, the policy and legislative review, and on the progress on the domestic market policy.

The working rules of procedure for the JMRM as well as further elaboration of rules of arbitration have been agreed.

In the update, Ghana highlighted advances in the development of a workable system for verifying the legality of timber and will soon contract an Independent Monitor.

The 2010 and 2011 Annual Reports on the VPA implementation will be published by the end of April 2012.

At the meeting Mr Henry Ford Kamel, Member of Parliament for Buem and out-going Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, expressed appreciation for the continued partnership with the EU to enhance transparency and good governance in the forestry sector.

He stressed commitment of Government to implement the VPA, and outlined progress in the review of the Ghanaian forest laws, and in the introduction of a procurement policy for wood on the domestic market.

Mr Kamel reiterated the good political will of the Government, and emphasised the commitment to inject the needed efforts to speed implementation according to the timelines.

EU Ambassador Claude Maerten said he was encouraged by the crucial steps being taken on the Wood Tracking System, the Independent Monitor and on the domestic market.

He stressed that it was important to remain focused on tackling challenges of illegality in the domestic market as it would undermine forest governance.

“Addressing the supply of legally harvested timber in the domestic market is essential to dealing with deforestation and forest degradation.”

Mr Maerten said the linkages of deforestation with climate change and loss of fiscal revenue.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.