Vietnam marks progress in negotiations, technical elements and assessment of livelihood impacts

Lead VPA negotiators for Vietnam and the EU assessed their progress in negotiations during a videoconference in June. Work is progressing on most annexes of the VPA and technical discussions are supporting the development of key elements of the timber legality assurance system. Political discussions have begun to make inroads on the issue of verifying the legality of origin of imported timber.

In September, the Vietnam Forest Administration (VNFOREST) invited stakeholders to comment on drafts of the timber legality definition and the timber legality assurance system by 1 October 2013. These drafts are available in Vietnamese here, together with a report on the consultation and development of the legality definition.

Members of the Vietnamese NGO FLEGT Network continued work on a livelihoods impact assessment with a workshop where researchers shared initial findings and analyses of the potential impacts of the VPA on three vulnerable groups. The first phase of the livelihoods impact assessment will conclude in November. In the second phase, network members will develop strategies for mitigating the potential negative impacts on vulnerable groups in consultation with local authorities and communities that are dependent on forests.

Two timber legality verification handbooks, one for verification agencies and the other for operators, are being conceptualised with support from GIZ. Work on the handbooks will commence once the concept has been agreed. These handbooks are intended as an important tool during implementation of the VPA, helping operators understand compliance requirements, and helping government officials conduct verification work.

VNFOREST will hold two meetings in the last quarter of 2013, with the support of theEU FAO FLEGT Programme. The first meeting will be a bilateral policy dialogue between Vietnam and Laos on timber trade and legality assurance. The second will be a national stakeholder consultation workshop on the main elements of the draft VPA.