Aiming to be one of the world’s leading processing centers of export timber, Việt Nam is striving to establish legal timber, where raw materials are legally sourced and traded throughout the entire value chain.
By doing so, the country could enhance the reputation of its domestic timber processing industry in the global market and lay the foundation for sustainable forestry development in Việt Nam, according to the industry experts.
The goal is to protect the world’s forests from illegal deforestation. In 2018, the project “Support to the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process in Vietnam: towards legal timber supply chains between VPA countries” was signed to enshrine this common goal between the EU and Việt Nam.
Over the past four years of operation, the project has made significant contributions to accelerating the implementation of FLEGT VPA in Việt Nam through improving the policy framework and strengthening the capacity of relevant individuals and institutions.
Upon signing the VPA, VNFOREST has strengthened forestry policies, especially in the traceability of forest products through the Việt Nam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS).
Speaking at the workshop "Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process in Vietnam: towards legal timber supply chains between VPA countries” on Friday, Nguyễn Hữu Thiện, Vice Director of the Việt Nam's Forest Protection Department, said: “The project has actively participated and significantly contributed to the development of the legal framework and legal documents related to the VNTLAS.”
Santiago Alonso-Rodriguez, First Counsellor, Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, said: “Germany will continue to work together with Việt Nam to ensure the full implementation of the FLEGT VPA.”
He added: “A strong TLAS in Việt Nam will surely also foster trust in the Vietnamese timber processing sector. This includes, for example, to address the current concern in Europe that all timber importers must respect the current ban on products from Russia. This includes timber products. The TLAS can provide the necessary guarantee and confidence for European buyers of products from Việt Nam."
Considering Việt Nam was a global hub of timber processing, Julia Falconer, Senior Forest Policy Advisor at Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, said: “I hope that Việt Nam will play a leading role in future international discussion around sustainable timber supply chains, drawing from your practical experience. I look forward to continuing our work with Vietnamese stakeholders and international partners, including Germany and the EU.”
In addition, the role of controlling imported timber and ensuring the legal timber supply chain as required by the FLEGT VPA and VNTLAS will be a key task for the verification agencies of the Forest Protection Department and Customs and the due diligence system.
At the closing workshop, Anja Barth, Chief Technical Advisor of the Project, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), said: “Capacity building for stakeholders is a critical mission to strengthen the verification mechanism and accompanying enforcement procedures.”
The project has supported training course participation about controlling imported timber from 47 provinces and cities, 406 forest rangers, and customs officers. Additionally, 209 participants from enterprises and timber associations across the country partook in due diligence training.
According to GIZ, it has helped promote dialogue among import and export countries’ enterprises toward sustainable supply chains, adding that the dialogue has expanded opportunities for various actors along the timber value chain to exchange their experiences on the implementation of FLEGT VPA with other countries in the EU and the world.
Within the framework of the project, training materials, information on regulatory requirements in harvesting countries, and supporting documents identifying tropical timber species were also developed, published and shared with various stakeholders, said GIZ experts, adding the shared wealth of knowledge was exhibited during the closing workshop and remains publicly available for future use.
The project was commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), co-funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and jointly implemented by VNFOREST and GIZ.
The workshop said Việt Nam and Germany continue in their cooperation to support Việt Nam in the full implementation of the FLEGT VPA.
An ongoing technical cooperation project, “Support to the implementation of the FLEGT VPA in Việt Nam,” funded by BMZ, was initiated one year ago. It aims at supporting the stakeholders in Việt Nam to implement the jointly agreed-upon actions for realising the objectives of the VPA, building on what has already been achieved. This includes improving legal, institutional, and operational conditions to align the TLAS of Việt Nam with the requirements outlined in the FLEGT VPA. —
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