Latest summary of the state of Republic of Congo’s VPA negotiations for Forestwatch Special, VPA update – from December 2015
Official VPA status: implementation since 2013
The VPA Joint Technical Group continues to meet regularly to ensure effective implementation of the VPA workplan. Work on the development of a Legality Assurance System (LAS) is making progress with international and local technical experts developing software that can soon be launched. The Independent Auditor’s activities have commenced with an initial mandate of assessing how robust Congo’s VPA process is at this stage. Adoption of the new Forestry Code is still pending, although at the most recent Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) in November the government reiterated its commitment to make progress on this. Civil society is worried that the adoption of the code will be considerably delayed while other reforms and processes such as REDD are picking up pace without proper civil society oversight.
The Plateforme de Gestion Durable des Forêts (PGDF) is finalising a set of proposals related to the Forest Code and working to strengthen its participation in the VPA process through renewed structures and an updated strategy. The PGDF hopes that the political unrest linked to the upcoming referendum will only be brief so that their activities can go back to normal. However, the process for further developing the forest decrees is not yet clear, and the recent involvement of the World Bank does not help to clarify this. CSOs are asking for initial proposals to be taken forward and have called on the Minister of Forestry Economy to ensure that further consultations are held. Azur Développement and FGDH, Fern’s local partners will soon launch a civil society monitoring project with funding from the EU. The project will monitor implementation of VPA social indicators and REDD+ safeguards and feed recommendations to the government on improving governance of the country’s forests.