World Policy Paper Release: Trade and Governance Policies Can Save the Earth’s Forests

World Policy Paper: Trade and Governance Policies Can Save the Earth’s Forests

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Kate Maloff
212.481.5005 x464

(NEW YORK, July 25) A new report by the World Policy Institute, in partnership with Demos, calls for countries to coordinate regionally and strengthen national laws to protect forests through trade and procurement policies tied to the monitoring and enforcement of illegal logging. In particular, it cites the need for China to adopt sustainable forestry policies and practices.
Each year, 12 million hectares of timber are lost to logging, both legal and illegal. Reducing this rate through responsible management of the world’s forest stock has the power to reduce poverty, conflict, and greenhouse gases. The European Union, the United States, and a number of developing countries have already put in place some policies to promote forest sustainability, though much more remains to be done.
The new report, “FAIRLY TRADING THE WORLD’S TIMBER: Lessons on Global Forest Governance and Trade from Europe and Liberia,” by William Powers and Andrea Wong, details experiences to date with policy initiatives to discourage illegal logging and promote legal, sustainable timber harvesting. It also makes recommendations on how countries can make those policies more effective.
The EU Timber Regulation and the US Lacey Act both prohibit illegal timber. The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are innovative bilateral agreements that facilitate enforcement by timber-exporting nations. The FLEGT agreements engage civil society, the private sector, and governments. “FAIRLY TRADING THE WORLD’S TIMBER: Lessons on Global Forest Governance and Trade from Europe and Liberia” details the genesis of FLEGT and similar initiatives around the world; the implications of such policies through a case study of the logging situation in the West African country of Liberia; and comprehensive proposals for future action.  The new paper provides experts and non-experts alike with the necessary information for encouraging and facilitating sustainable forestry. As the report notes, the need for coordination, compliance, and reform is urgent: investment in responsible management of timber resources can not only have an immense impact on climate change mitigation efforts, but also foster global economic prosperity.

Among the report's key recommendations:

  • Use trade policy to create clear market signals. All countries that import wood need to send the market signal, by way of select trade preferences, that trade in illegal timber is no longer acceptable.
  • Address opportunity cost. Bilateral agreements can provide financial incentives for developing countries to create a legal, sustainable supply of timber.
  • Use procurement policies to drive demand. Government purchasing of sustainable wood has the power to increase demand and stimulate the market for legal timber.
  • Involve stakeholders in the beginning, middle, and end. Including country governments, private sectors, and local stakeholders as full partners results in shared prosperity that will lead to a globalization resistant to shocks.
  • Build producer country capacity. Investments must be made to increase governments’ ability to establish clear policies for timber extraction and export, and then to monitor the trade in a transparent manner.
  • Coordinate regionally and globally. Increased participation as a result of regional bodies pushing for FLEGT standards in their jurisdictions will further refine, strengthen, and standardize FLEGT principles.

Major consumers of timber have a particular responsibility to adopt and provide support for forestry management practices. Accordingly, the policy paper also includes country-specific recommendations for China, Japan, and the United States, including:

  • China and other growing manufacturing and consuming nations should enact an EU Timber Regulation/Lacey Act style prohibition on commerce in illegally sourced wood material.
  • China should also adopt a FLEGT VPA process beginning in Russia, Ghana, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
  • The US should use its buying power clout to press China on the above recommendation and, in a parallel process, strengthen the Lacey Act to include FLEGT capacity building and participation practices.
  • In addition to stepping up to enact a ban on illegally sourced wood, Japan should provide FLEGT capacity building support to its major suppliers, Indonesia and Malaysia, and come into sync with the EU’s efforts with those two important countries’ threatened forests.

This new policy paper is part of the World Policy Institute’s Global Environment and Energy Project.

FAIRLY TRADING THE WORLD’S TIMBER: Lessons on Global Forest Governance and Trade from Europe and Liberia,” by William Powers and Andrea Wong, New York: World Policy Institute and Demos, July 2011

About World Policy Institute

The World Policy Institute engages fresh ideas and new voices from around the world to address critical shared challenges. We provide a forum for solution-focused policy analysis and public debate toward an inclusive and sustainable global market economy, effective and fair governance, and collaborative approaches to security.

About Demos

Demos is a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization founded in 2000. Headquartered in New York City, Demos works with advocates and policymakers around the country in pursuit of four overarching goals: a more equitable economy with widely shared prosperity and opportunity; a vibrant and inclusive democracy with high levels of voting and civic engagement; an empowered public sector that works for the common good; and responsible U.S. engagement in an interdependent world.

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