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Lesniewska, Feja and McDermott, Constance L. (2014) 'FLEGT VPAs: Laying a pathway to sustainability via legality lessons from Ghana and Indonesia.' Forest Policy and Economics, 48 (November). pp. 16-23.

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The long-term objective of the 2003 EU FLEGT Action Plan was to ensure a legal trade of timber products within and between countries and, by doing so, clear a pathway towards global sustainability and good governance. Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between the EU and producing countries have emerged as a primary tool for achieving these goals. VPAs combine legality licensing as a market-based approach to stem illegal harvesting and trade with multi-stakeholder processes that seek to address underlying problems of forest governance, including unclear or contradictory forest related laws and weak community rights. We explore whether the EU FLEGT pathway from legality to sustainability is being laid down through VPAs by drawing on case studies of Ghana and Indonesia. These countries are among the first to agree VPAs and are currently working towards the issuance of FLEGT licenses for timber product exports to the EU. The paper uses a critical socio-legal approach that focuses not only on the negotiation of VPA text, but also on the implications of that text for how VPA policies will be interpreted, enacted and contested in their implementation. Our analysis indicates that both countries are adopting a uniform approach driven by the technical verification requirements needed to license timber for export. This overemphasis on timber licensing fails to address the leading role of the agricultural sector in driving forest loss, constrains civil society participation and creates disproportionate market barriers for local producers. We conclude that a more sustainable approach requires balancing trade-based licensing of large industry with other governance models more appropriate for small-scale operators and domestic markets.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
School Research Centres > Law, Environment and Development Centre
ISSN: 13899341
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2015 10:43

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