The work of a partnership of organizations in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia led by Tropenbos International and Tropenbos Ghana, to increase the contribution of non-state actors, related to the EU’s FLEGT initiative, and REDD+ has resulted in a range of outcomes.
NGOs, CBOs, CSOs, researchers, educators and journalists, collectively called ‘non-state actors’, play an important role in forest policy processes. But their capacity to do so is limited by a lack of resources, training and organization.
Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) are international initiatives to control illegal logging and conserve forests, contributing to climate change mitigation. The EU leads the promotion of FLEGT through VPAs with timber-producing developing countries, recognising that involving local people is critical for sustainable and accountable forest resource management.
To support this, the EU funded the ‘Strengthening the capacity of non-state actors to improve FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa’ (2017-20) in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia (the EU NSA project), coordinated by Tropenbos International.
In Côte d’Ivoire, this project helped to organize small enterprises into associations, including charcoal makers, woodworkers and timber traders. They committed to stopping the use of illegal timber, lobbied for tax reductions, improved negotiation power with government agencies and financial institutions, and are now involved in policy discussions related to illegal timber (FLEGT) and climate change mitigation (REDD+).
In Ghana, the project increased local involvement in monitoring illegal forest activities, establishing an independent forest monitoring system with CSOs and the Forestry Commission. It built trust, streamlined activities, and stimulated development of joint strategies, with 500 people trained to watch their forests through ForestLink on their mobile phones and report infractions to the Forestry Commission.
In Liberia, a group of investigative journalists reporting on illegal forest practices were supported in the establishment of Liberia Forest Media Watch, and the weekly Forest Hour radio show. This presents a range of issues including illegal logging, poor labour practices, social responsibilities and corruption, and has exposed many issues that have forced authorities to respond and take action.
Originally published on Tropenbos website. The opinions and views expressed are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the opinions and views of the European Union.