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Civil society organisations share livelihoods impact assessment results of Vietnam’s VPA

The VNGO FLEGT Network shared the results of its livelihoods impact assessment of the VPA in Vietnam, which it carried out in 2013. This is the first time an ex ante livelihoods impact assessment designed to assess the potential effect a VPA would have on vulnerable stakeholder groups has been conducted during VPA negotiations. As a result, the researchers recommend an effort be made to level the effects of the stricter regulations that are expected to come with an Vietnam-EU VPA on small-scale and large-scale timber growers and manufacturing enterprises alike.

The assessment focused on three potentially vulnerable groups in Vietnam: farmers who grow and harvest timber without land tenure certificates, ethnic minorities who depend on forests and small-scale wood processing households. 

The researchers adapted the poverty and social impact assessment methods in their work. They organised research workshops and made analytical studies to understand the ways in which stronger law enforcement and tighter export licence requirements could affect the livelihoods of small-scale domestic timber producers and wood processors. They developed theories of change and strategies to help ensure that the outcomes are positive, and they came up with a concept for a monitoring plan with appropriate indicators.

The assessment predicts that the VPA will have both positive and negative effects. The findings indicate that there will be a transitional period as timber producers and wood processors adapt to comply with the legality requirements and strengthen their capacity to adjust to the new market environment. Large-scale processors and exporters are likely to benefit from a regulation that eases export to European markets. But small-scale timber growers and processers could find the cost of compliance reduces their income and makes them more vulnerable. 

The findings of the assessment are being shared during stakeholder consultations organised by the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) to inform VPA negotiations on aspects such as data and information gaps, public information strategies and social safeguards. The VNGO FLEGT Network's research was supported by Forest Trends and FERN. This year, the network also plans to assess new locations and to deepen the analysis of the initial study. 

For more information, contact Vu Thi Bich Hop, VNGO FLEGT Network, Centre for Sustainable Rural Development at hop(@)srd.org.vn.