Indonesian and EU efforts to tackle illegal logging
Indonesia has become a leader in the global fight against illegal logging. In 2001, it hosted a regional conference, which concluded with the Bali Declaration on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance. This helped to make illegal logging an issue of global concern.
Indonesia’s efforts to tackle illegal logging therefore pre-dated and influenced the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan of 2003, which aims to address illegal logging through both demand and supply side action, including VPAs.
By 2003, Indonesia had launched a multistakeholder process to design a timber legality assurance system. The goal of the system is to ensure that timber and timber products harvested, imported and processed in Indonesia originate from legal sources and that companies producing and processing timber products comply with relevant Indonesian laws and regulations.
VPA negotiations between Indonesia and the EU began in 2007 and concluded with the signature of the agreement in 2013. The following year, Indonesia became the first Asian country to ratify a VPA. Indonesia is now one of the eight tropical countries that are implementing VPAs with the EU. On 15 November 2016, it became the first VPA country to deliver FLEGT licensed timber.
Through progress on VPAs, the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and dialogues with other important timber market, including China, the EU and its VPA partner countries are contributing to a growing global movement to stop trade in illegal timber and timber products. Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea also seek to restrict the placing of illegal timber on their markets through their respective national regulations. FLEGT licences may therefore help Indonesia and other VPA partner countries meet the legality requirements of markets beyond the EU.
- 2001: Indonesia hosts regional conference on forest law enforcement and governance
- 2003: Efforts to define timber legality begin in Indonesia
- 2003: EU launches Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan
- 2007: Indonesia-EU VPA negotiations begin
- 2009: Indonesia adopts SVLK Regulation
- 2010: Indonesia revises SVLK Regulation
- 2011: Indonesia-EU VPA negotiations end
- 2012: Indonesia and EU test systems for handling FLEGT-licensed timber
- 2013: EU Timber Regulation enters into force
- 2013: SVLK begins to issues V-Legal documents (a precursor to FLEGT licensing)
- 2013: Indonesia and EU sign the VPA
- 2013: Indonesia-EU joint evaluation of SVLK against the VPA begins
- 2013: Indonesia and EU launch joint action plan on VPA implementation
- 2014: Indonesia and EU ratify VPA and form Joint Implementation Committee
- 2014: Indonesia revises SVLK Regulation
- 2015: Indonesia and EU update joint action plan on VPA implementation and revise three VPA annexes
- 2015: Indonesia and EU establish a joint multistakeholder working group to monitor VPA implementation
- 2016: Indonesia revises SVLK Regulation
- 2016: Indonesia and the EU announce that Indonesia has met the final major VPA requirement ahead of FLEGT licensing
- 2016: Indonesia began FLEGT licensing on 15 November 2016
- 2017: Indonesia and the EU celebrate one year of FLEGT licensing with event in Jakarta
- 2018: The Joint Implementation Committee publishes the first independent assessment of VPA implementation, the Periodic Evaluation
- 2019: Indonesia and the EU meet for the 7th Joint Implementation Committee and publish the second Periodic Evaluation
- 2019: Indonesia passess the 100 000 mark of FLEGT licences issued for export to the EU
- 2020: Indonesia revises one trade regulation creating a dispute with the EU
- 2020: Indonesia revises trade and SVLK regulations, re-instaling compliance with the VPA
Indonesia’s VPA process and key elements
Indonesia and the EU negotiated the terms of the VPA through a cooperative process: both parties share the goals of eliminating illegality and fostering good forest governance.
The VPA negotiations involved representatives of Indonesian civil society organisations, the private sector and different government ministries and agencies. Significant national ownership and stakeholder engagement was achieved. The VPA therefore reflects a broad consensus among stakeholders.
Key elements of the VPA are described in its main text and annexes. They include:
- A timber legality assurance system which issues verified legal timber products with ‘FLEGT’ licences (see below)
- Commitments to public disclosure of information and other improvements to forest governance
- A framework for overseeing, monitoring and evaluating implementation of the VPA and its economic, social and environmental impacts
In addition, to these agreed commitments, the VPA process itself has fostered multistakeholder participation, transparency, legislative clarity, legal reforms and other aspects of good governance (see Improved forest governance). Since its implementation in 2014, three VPA annexes have been revised (in 2015) to reflect the changes in policy developments.
An Indonesia-EU Joint Implementation Committee oversees the implementation of the VPA. It has published and regularly updates action plans to guide this work. The committee is supported by a secretariat, led by both parties, and located in Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry. EU-Indonesian exchanges take place at least three times per year in the form of joint expert meetings and the Join Implementation Committee that occurs once per year. In addition, multiple thematic, coordination, and policy related meetings take place as needed. JEM and JIC meetings invite all relevant stakeholders. Records of discussions from JICs are made public.
The Joint Implementation Committee, the Government of Indonesia and the EU respond to any concerns about problems in implementation as they arise. Implementation therefore improves as it proceeds. The Joint Implementation Committee will be regularly informed by an independent auditor (called a periodic evaluator, see below), which is a third-party organisation that assesses the overall performance of the timber legality assurance system and reports on any detected failures.