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Back global Accord for tropical forests, COP26 urged

Sep 20, 2021 | FLEGT Market News, News

Political leaders at the COP26 Climate Change Conference will be urged to safeguard  the future of tropical forests with a renewed global commitment to reinforce forest industry and international forest product trade governance.

The UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF), together with European Woodworking Industries Confederation CEI-Bois, is running a six week World of Wood Festival (WOW) in London from October 25 to December 3 to coincide with the UN Conference in Glasgow. Comprising an exhibition and events, a key focus will be the UK/EU FLEGT initiative and its role in aligning forest industry law enforcement and legality assurance in FLEGT VPA tropical supplier countries with trade and wider economic, social and environmental benefit.

The TTF in association with trade body partners worldwide, including in FLEGT VPA countries, will also launch a Tropical Timber Accord during COP26.  This will call for a new, wider international accord to support and incentivise  strengthening of tropical forest industry and forest products supply chain governance, with enhanced global market access for those tropical countries which commit to reform and enforcement.

The TTF and UK government have been among the foremost advocates and supporters of FLEGT from its outset. Since 2018, it has run a dedicated FLEGT promotion and awareness raising programme, which has been funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under its Forest Governance, Markets and Climate Programme.

“The TTF strongly supports the growth and evolution of the FLEGT initiative,” said TTF FLEGT Communications Executive Lucy Bedry. “We’ve secured further funding from the FCDO, taking our communications campaign to December 2022 and enabling it to expand its focus from the UK, Indonesia, Ghana and China to include Vietnam and Gabon too.”

Following the success of its Momentto design competition for architectural use of FLEGT-licensed timber in 2019, it last year ran a further contest for use of timber from FLEGT VPA countries, Conversations about Climate Change. Entrants were challenged to develop products showcasing the technical and aesthetic performance of tropical hardwoods. These ‘conversation pieces’ also had to stimulate discussion around the role of forests and timber in mitigating climate change and the contribution of FLEGT in ensuring legal and sustainable forestry and timber supply.

The World of Wood Festival will underline the key role of forests and wood use, particularly in construction, in carbon storage and climate regulation. The importance of forest and forest product trade governance will also be a key highlight. There will be a display of the Conversations about Climate Change competition winners and messaging on FLEGT and the linkage between establishing legal forest sector frameworks and attracting investment.

Devised and coordinated by the UK TTF and CEI-Bois, WOW is also backed by an alliance of over 40  associations, organisations, businesses and campaigns ‘representing global forest growth and development’, plus engineered mass timber and wood-based products sectors from Indonesia to the Congo Basin, Australia, North America and China.

The Tropical Timber Accord will acknowledge the value of the FLEGT initiative, but highlight that, for maximum leverage in securing the future of tropical forest, a wider legality, governance and trade framework is needed backed by consumer markets worldwide.

Such a framework would have its own international secretariat. Among its objectives would be to encourage consumer markets to promote forest products trade with countries which have strong governance systems and discourage it with those that don’t. It would effectively incentivise legality and governance reform by offering tropical producer countries ‘green lane’ preferential access to international markets and trade in return.  Furthermore, says the TTF, this would attract greater international investment in legal and sustainable tropical forest product industries, add value to standing timber and disincentivise illegal tropical timber trade and tropical forest conversion to other uses.

“Following the European Commission’s FLEGT and EU Timber Regulation Fitness check, we want to see FLEGT given added impetus that favours a transition to a forest governance, legality and sustainability programme with a global outreach and buy-in,” said Ms Bedry. 

The WOW Festival will be supported by an event website and a WOW mobile augmented reality app. It will also be backed by wider digital communication, with COP26 delegates among key targets.