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The Congo Basin in the spotlight at the « Forest Legality Week » (Washington, WRI)

09.11.2018

The ATIBT was invited by WRI to take part in the second « Forest Legality Week » held in Washington from 23 to 25 October 2018.

Forest Legality Week is intended to enable dialogue and inspire action and partnerships to more effectively implement and monitor timber trade legality and due diligence measures. During this 3-day conference, the issues of forest legality were addressed through a session dedicated to the Congo Basin.

ATIBT spoke in the first panel, which aim was  » Shifting Dynamics in the Private Sector » and was dedicated to the private sector. Caroline Duhesme opened this panel by drawing a portrait of the context of the tropical timber industry in the Congo Basin, and presented the highlights of recent years. The crisis facing the sector has been tackled with the difficulties of certified European historical companies, the increasing presence of Asian operators and the potential impacts of these changes on forest legality and sustainable management. It also tackled ways to support the dynamics and change in place in this region, particularly through the projects implemented by ATIBT (FLEGT-REDD and FLEGT IP projects, PPECF, FAO project, Dynafor, P3FAC, the development of the Fair & Precious brand, etc.).

This presentation was followed by an intervention by the representative of the Nkok Special Economic Zone (GSEZ), Mr. Theophile Ogandaga, who explained how this initiative will accelerate the timber processing sector for achieving 660 M USD exports of wood products by 2021.

Then Stephane Glanaz, Chief Commercial Officer of Precious Woods Holding Ltd, shared a reflection on the innovative business model applied by Precious Woods to preserve tropical forests, and address the problem of profitability of operators applying the strictest environmental and social standards. This approach aims to avoid deforestation by transforming environmental performance into income by promoting the use of products from certified forests. It needs to identify and prove some benefits units of values (ecological, social, etc.) to monetize ecological services according to their contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to encourage investments.

Finally, Nicolas Pillet, CSR manager in Le Commerce du Bois (LCB), explained what major changes in the subregion impact the members of LCB (French importers and traders) in the application of due diligence. These include difficulties in obtaining information from producers of Asian origin and ensuring the traceability of African products when they are processed in Asia.

The audience, drawing stakeholders from governments, the private sector, civil society, the scientific community, and service providers such as timber certification bodies, welcomed very positively these presentations which aroused very interesting exchanges.

The second panel was devoted to the future of independent monitoring in the Congo Basin, and took the form of a discussion with questions and answers. It consisted of representatives of IM organizations (OGF in DRC, FLAG in Cameroon, REM in the UK), the private sector (LCB), and the EIA. Various topics were discussed, such as the different types of IMs (mandated and non-mandated), the actors involved in these activities, the improvements in the functioning of these bodies, the challenges to be met, and the future of these initiatives which should be based on good governance, professionalisation and standardization of these bodies.

The event includes also panels about:

  • the use of blockchain technologies for supply chain management and how it could create transparency in the forestry sector;
  • forest landscape restoration and legality concerns in Latin America;
  • early warning remote sensing systems for illegal logging;
  • shifting source countries for wood products, the related risks, and the implications for due diligence;
  • and illegalities in Eastern European timber supplies.

The minutes and presentations will soon be available on the WRI website (lien : https://www.wri.org/events/2018/10/washington-forest-legality-week-2018).

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