As part of the joint review of the VPA started in March 2019 by the two main signatory parties (Cameroon and the European Union), two important workshops, one to validate the assessment of the VPA since its signature in 2011 (held from 17 to 18 April 2019) and the other to develop a roadmap (17 to 20 June 2019), allowed the various stakeholders in the implementation of the process to share a better common vision and set the necessary guidelines for its effective implementation in Cameroon.
Following the national workshop for exchanges and synthesis with stakeholders on the progress and challenges of the VPA held in Mfou (Yaoundé) on 17 and 18 April 2019, the joint review roadmap included a final workshop to jointly develop a more realistic action plan for the implementation of the VPA.
This last workshop, held in Mbankomo (Yaoundé) from 17 to 20 June 2019, was attended by some forty representatives of the Cameroonian administrations concerned (PM, MINFOF, MINREX, MINEPDED, MINTSS, MINEPAT, MINJUSTICE, MINCOMMERCE, MINFI, MINDCAF, MINIMIDT), Cameroonian anti-corruption bodies (CLCC, CONAC, ANIF), civil society organizations (TRAFFIC, FERN, CED, FODER, SAILD, CEFAID, AJESH, CJAD, ASBAK,….), research institutions (CIFOR, CIDT, UDS, CERAD, IIED,…), forest and wood private sector (GFBC, AEFNC, FECAPROBOIS, ACFCAM/CTFC, Community forests) and technical and financial partners (EC, DUE, GIZ, FAO)
One of the key objectives of the workshop was to share a common vision of the process among the different stakeholders involved in the implementation of the VPA, in particular regarding (1) the State of Cameroon (including decentralized territorial authorities), (2) the International Community (including Technical and Financial Partners), (3) the National and International Private Sector, (4) Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC).
The vision of the FLEGT VPA process shared by all participants at the end of the workshop is expressed in terms of impacts and changes to be operated by the main beneficiaries. In summary, it is question that by 2030, the exploitation and marketing of Cameroon’s legal timber could generate the following impacts (in relation to each identified beneficiary):
1. the increase in the sustained contribution of the forestry sector to GDP (Cameroonian State);
2. maintenance of forest cover and sustainable management (for the international community);
3. improving the competitiveness of Cameroon’s legal timber in all markets (private sector);
4. the improvement of the living conditions of the riparian IPLC (Indigenous peoples and local communities).
About ten major changes will have to be operate to implement these impacts:
1. Operators in the supply chain must be able to acquire, produce and sell timber and timber products in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements;
2. Purchasers and users of timber and timber products at national and international level should be able to require legal timber;
3. The private sector and the administration must work together to make legal timber available and accessible on the domestic market;
4. The active participation of the IPLC in the monitoring of forest management and revenues must be effective;
5. Decentralized Territorial Communities, in collaboration with the IPLC, must be able to effectively collect revenues and use them for local development;
6. The State, with the support of the Technical and Financial Partners, must be able to ensure the implementation of a land use plan, rigorous planning of timber resource extraction and the maintenance of a permanent forest cover of at least to 30%;
7. The State must be able to review its regulatory and institutional legal framework to improve access to forest resources for all and to simplify procedures for verifying legality;
8. The State must be able to regularly adjust forest taxation to ensure the collection and redistribution of taxes in an equitable way, encourage legality and promote the competitiveness of all private actors;
9. All stakeholders must be able to make information accessible to all actors in an appropriate way;
10. The dissuasive application of sanctions to indelicate actors must be effective.
The roadmap to be developed should focus on this common vision to set priorities for action and a chronogram to guide efforts to effectively implement the VPA-FLEGT over the next 7 years.