Independent evaluation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan



About the Evaluation

In July 2014 the European Commission started an evaluation of the first 11 years of implementation (2003-2014) of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. The evaluation was based on a wide-ranging consultation process that included an independent evaluation undertaken by an external consultant, surveys, single and multi-stakeholder workshops, targeted interviews, as well as unsolicited inputs from stakeholders. The evaluation process concluded with the release of a Commission's Staff Working Document. 

The evaluation had three main objectives:

  1. To assess and document progress, achievements, shortcomings and gaps
  2. To assess and analyse changes in the global context
  3. To draw lessons learnt and formulate recommendations that could guide future EU efforts on forest law enforcement, governance and trade

The evaluation covered 2003-2014, the first 11 years of implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. It included in its scope all actions undertaken by EU institutions, EU Member States and partner countries, including efforts of non-state actors and international organisations. It covered the EU FLEGT Action Plan’s seven action areas and their interrelationships.

The evaluation report comprises two volumes: Volume 1 is the main report, Volume 2 provides supporting documentation. 

Release of the Evaluation report

The European Commission published on 4 May 2016 a report that the global FLEGT community has long-anticipated: The Independent Evaluation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. The evaluation covers the first eleven years of our community’s work, assessing progress in implementation and making recommendations for future action. Download the report

The report concludes that the EU FLEGT Action Plan is a relevant and innovative response to the challenge of illegal logging and that it has improved forest governance in all target countries. The report says the EU FLEGT Action Plan has been effective in terms of raising awareness of the problem of illegal logging at all levels, contributing to improved forest governance globally and particularly in partner producer countries, and has helped reduce demand for illegal timber in the EU. 

The findings and recommendations will guide the European Commission in improving the efficiency, effectiveness and value-for-money of work undertaken to further implement the EU FLEGT Action Plan. The report will also guide the EC in assessing policies to address the broader drivers of deforestation, and in linking action under FLEGT to the international climate change and Sustainable Development Goals agendas.

Evaluation’s key messages

The report’s executive summary has 10 key messages:

  1. The EU FLEGT Action Plan continues to be fully relevant but needs to address new challenges, in particular with regard to deforestation and forest conversion.
  2. The overall design is innovative, comprehensive and future-proof, but objectives and intervention logics need to be clarified. Main pillars and action areas should be retained, but FLEGT support to producing countries should be delivered in a more demand-driven and flexible manner, while bottlenecks affecting VPAs should be addressed and the private sector more involved.
  3. The Action Plan has not been implemented in a sufficiently balanced manner; strategic direction and monitoring of FLEGT Action should be improved; management and outcome monitoring also need strengthening and require corresponding human and financial resources.
  4. Communication has initially not been commensurate to the importance of the EU FLEGT Action Plan as an innovative and experimental policy initiative. More attention should be given to internal and external FLEGT communication at all levels.
  5. While the Action Plan contributes to its specific objectives, effectiveness across action areas varies widely. Shifts in priorities and approaches within and between actions areas are required, notably with regard to VPA and EUTR implementation and private sector engagement.
  6. While the direct FLEGT objective of decreased EU imports of illegal wood is being achieved, a shift in geographical focus to non-VPA countries and focus on international coalitions is required - if global illegal logging and trade is to be addressed.
  7. The EU FLEGT Action Plan is resulting in improved forest governance in all targeted countries, both VPA and non-VPA. However, fundamental governance challenges persist, slow down progress and need more effective tackling.
  8. FLEGT’s contribution to the higher objective of Sustainable Forest Management is unclear and needs to be made more explicit. FLEGT has proven to have potential to make an important contribution to poverty reduction, but this requires more attention for domestic timber markets and support for the actors operating in them.
  9. FLEGT is largely coherent with EU and international policies. While the principle of basing VPAs primarily on national legislation should be maintained, due attention should be given to obligations deriving from international conventions as well.
  10. The FLEGT Action Plan has clear EU added-value through its market leverage and increased political weight. However, effective implementation requires broader political and financial support and promotion across EU Member States, as well as enhanced coordination.

Next steps

Based on the results provided by the consultants, the EC will consider, jointly with EU Member States and all concerned stakeholders, possible measures to improve the overall effectiveness of the EU FLEGT Action Plan’s implementation, as well as on options to address identified challenges and shortcomings.

This reflection starts with the preparation by the Commission services of a Staff Working Document on the Evaluation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. It also draws upon the results of the EC’s recent review of the EU Timber Regulation as well as the results of the performance audit carried out by the European Court of Auditors in 2015.

Consideration by the Commission on strengthening action against illegal logging will advance in parallel with the reflections on a more coherent EU international forest approach to combat deforestation and forest degradation. To feed this reflection, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment has contracted a feasibility study, aiming at defining and assessing policy options to increase EU action on global deforestation and forest degradation. The study is expected to be completed in September 2016.

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