As part of the national process of revising the VPA FLEGT grids in Cameroon, funded by the EU FAO FLEGT Program, the GFBC was in charge of leading the activities of the project to support the inclusive involvement of the private sector. After nearly eight (8) months of activity in the field, the GFBC is about to start the final sprint in order to propose on time, grids better adapted to the context of the private sector.
The FLEGT VPA is a trade process initiated since 2010 between Cameroon and the European Union that aims to eradicate the trade in illegal timber on European markets. To control the legality of wood produced in Cameroon, legality grids have been defined for each production source (forest titles and processing units). It has to be said that several years later, the process is not fully operational. According to the Joint Council of the VPA, a body that monitors the implementation of the process, appropriate and consensually adopted legality grids would undeniably contribute to the consolidation of the value of timber products and strengthen the credibility of the FLEGT VPA implementation process.
Thus, since February 2019, a national process to review the legality grids has been initiated by three groups of stakeholders involved in the implementation of the FLEGT VPA (Administration, Civil Society and Private Sector of the forest-wood sector) in order to contribute to the operationalization of the FLEGT VPA in Cameroon. For these actors, it is a question of involving the different categories composing their respective groups more closely in the formulation of proposals for legality grids that are better adapted to the legislative and regulatory context and to the specificities of the actors in the forest-wood sector.
For the Private Sector largely composed of industrial timber companies as well as SMEs / SMIs and artisanal wood operators grouped within the Interprofessional Forest Industries Branch (IFFB), the GFBC carried out an extended consultation and adopted an inclusive approach.
As early as April, a consultation between the three groups of project stakeholders enabled the development and adoption of a common methodology with a standard framework for analyzing existing FLEGT legality grids. The GFBC then carried out an analysis of the regulatory provisions (in June 2019) through a review of the provisions of the legal texts applicable to the forestry sector favorable to responsible and profitable logging (148 texts identified and analyzed). To ensure the effective participation of the main categories of private sector actors, the GFBC organized the independent consultation of the representatives of logging companies and industrial processors (workshop from 17 to 20 July in Kribi) and those of SMEs / SMIs and artisan operators (workshop from 6 to 7 November in Ebolowa). At the end of this consultation phase, the GFBC drew up a summary of the diagnoses made by the two categories of stakeholders consulted and took an active part in the pooling of diagnoses of existing grids carried out by the three groups actors carrying projects (workshop from 12 to 14 November in Ebolowa, organized by GIZ).
From the analysis of the 8 legality grids carried out by the three groups of actors, it is clear that 43% of the verifiers were removed from the grids. Just under 57% of the verifiers were selected, 35% of whom need to be reformulated to take into account changes in the regulations, the relevance and availability of audit documents. While about 22% of the auditors were adopted as is, there is also an addition of about 4% of verifiers to take into account the same reasons mentioned above.
At four (4) months from the end of the legality review process, the GFBC still has a long way to go in finalizing the private sector proposals. At this stage of the process, key steps remain to be achieved, including (1) the consensual reformulation of the 35% of verifiers, (2) the carrying out of three field tests of the proposed grids and (3) the holding of three regional workshops to validate the grids, which were revised by all private sector actors. In other words, the marathon is committed so that the GFBC can present the consensual proposals of all private sector actors at the end of the process. In any case, the revised grid proposals made by the three groups of actors respond well to the aspirations of the private sector, which wanted to have lightened grids adapted to the context of the Cameroonian forest-wood sector. By making these more appropriate and applicable grids available, the implementation of the FLEGT VPA will strengthen the contribution of private sector actors in better monitoring forestry and processing activities, improve the competitiveness of Cameroonian timber under FLEGT authorization on the European market, and thus undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of the state’s forest revenues and the well-being of local populations.
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