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— programme aims to empower VPA agencies with the tools to support capacity building programmes
The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) with aid from the European Union (EU) through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) under its FAO EU FLEGT Programme on March 4, 2021 launched a project that targets the improvement of forestry training institutions’ capacities to provide updated and relevant training that meets the current needs of the sector.
Titled “Enhancing the capacity of training institutions in the Forestry Sector to support the effective implementation of the Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS),” the project also aims at empowering agencies such as National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Ministry of Labour (MoL) among others with the tools to support capacity building programmes.
Accotrding to a Guyana Forestry Commission release, the FAO EU FLEGT programme is part of a global effort that is funded by the EU to implement the FLEGT Action Plan, adopted in 2003 by the EU member states in response to the global environmental, economic and social consequences of illegal timber trade. The Action Plan outlines a series of supply and demand side measures to improve the enforcement of forest laws, strengthen governance and trade, and ultimately ensure sustainable forest management practices. Guyana’s reasons for entering a VPA exceeds the provision of a greater market share in Europe, which the issuing of FLEGT licenses would create. Improved governance, improved systems of tracking and tracing timber and timber products, improving the country’s image as a producer of legal timber and improved product development and marketing are a few of the other main reasons.
After six years of negotiations Guyana and EU initialled the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement in November 2018. This lead to the development of a strategic multi-annual planning tool, Joint Implementation Framework (JIF), which instructs the implementation of the VPA provisions until licensing. The JIF is meant to put in place all elements of the GTLAS one such including capacity building before FLEGT Licensing can start to operate.
In this regard, Natural Resources Specialist, Veetal Rajkumar, delivering the feature address on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Vickram Bharrat, thanked the EU and FAO for their financial and technical support to the forestry sector in Guyana. He noted that the Government of Guyana will advance its work on the GTLAS, a requirement under the EU FLEGT VPA programme. Further, he disclosed that, “The VPA will be tabled in Parliament within the second half of 2021 to officially conclude the initiation phase of the agreement; which in itself will help create greater access to more lucrative opportunities for Guyana’s forest products in the EU and other markets through a licensing process which is anticipated to become effective in 2022.”
Dr Gillian Smith, Representative of FAO Guyana highlighted that through the collaborative efforts with the EU, the FAO EU FLEGT Programme more than USD 800,000 was committed to fourteen projects in Guyana. Dr Smith further committed the support of FAO in advancing efforts towards SFM and commended the GFC for successfully leading the process and progress of the EU FLEGT VPA in Guyana especially given the challenges of the global pandemic. Similarly, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Guyana, Karel Lizerot thanked the FAO for being the EU’s implementing partner for the EU FLEGT initiative. He disclosed that EU’s work in Guyana will advance through its programmatic arrangement, forest partnership which will see Guyana obtaining support under the thematic areas: forest governance, sustainable livelihood, and protection of mangroves.
In bringing the curtains down on the event, Chairwoman of GFC Board of Directors, Vanessa Benn noted her satisfaction that the project would be able to: replicate the contributions of the international partners, strengthen collaboration among VPA agencies, and enable and enhance the capacity of stakeholders to improve timber legality.
The project will see the development of a GTLAS training manual and a cadre of forty (40) staff of Forestry Training Centre Incorporated (FTCI) and VPA agencies receiving training to use the manual. The virtual project launch was attended by thirty-five (35) stakeholders representing all categories of Forest Sector Operators, VPA agencies, and donor agencies.