Participatory decision making
The level of stakeholder participation and the influence stakeholders exert in Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) processes is unprecedented. VPA processes foster participation, both in the process itself, and as a result of the commitments parties make in the VPA text and annexes.
VPAs are the first trade agreements developed through inclusive multistakeholder processes that have had impacts on decision making in the forest sector.
Participation not only enables stakeholders to influence decision-making processes that will affect them. Participation also brings benefits to decision-making processes. Decisions made through participatory processes are likely to be practical, equitable, credible and effective, and to reflect a broad consensus among stakeholders.
Without inclusive multistakeholder processes, a VPA would lack credibility. For that reason, the EU expects broad stakeholder participation in both the negotiation and implementation phases of a VPA process.
To read more about the ways VPA processes foster participation and the benefits that have resulted in different countries, see the section of VPA Unpacked on how a VPA can increase participation.
Viewpoint: Saskia Ozinga on the depth of VPA consultations
Saskia Ozinga, campaign coordinator at NGO FERN, former senior forestry advisor at the UK Department for International Development / Source: Jeffree, M. 2014. FLEGT forest power to the people. Timber Trades Journal Online October 2014 48–49.
Related sections of VPA Unpacked
Canby, K. 2013. Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) or How to do effective consultation for national policies. Forest Trends PowerPoint presentation. [Download PDF]