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First West & Central Africa ‘Responsible Trade’ Summit for wood product industry

Libreville, June 18th 2018. Today, for the first time, representatives of national and regional associations representing the wood product industries across West and Central Africa are convening to examine the shared challenges and opportunities of responsible trade and to build their capacity to respond.

The Global Timber Forum’s Summit brings together 80 representatives from 10 countries from the West & Central Africa region together with a visiting delegation of industry representatives from major timber consuming regions including the US and the EU.

The Summit will be addressed by His Excellency Mr Jacques Denis Tsanga, Ministre des Eaux et Forêts, chargé de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable, Gabon, with opening remarks from Mr. Helder Muteia, Subregional Coordinator for Central Africa and FAO Representative in Gabon, FAO Subregional Office.

At the start of 2018, GTF conducted research with associations in West & Central Africa and the findings have helped to shape the two-day Summit’s agenda. These results demonstrated that there is a clear opportunity for associations to work with their members directly on the responsible trade agenda and thereby improve social and environmental outcomes. However, associations face the challenges of a sector dominated by micro enterprises with limited access to finance or information on market trends.

These challenges combined with evolving international trade requirements mean it is critical that associations build their own capacity to drive change and engage in a fast evolving multi-stakeholder environment.

The Summit will also be reviewing successes in responsible trade in the region, many of which were achieved by governments, communities and business working together. These include the work done in Ghana to prepare for the FLEGT licence.

The Summit is organised by GTF with local support from UFIGA and Nature and Development Foundation of Ghana with funding through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) EU FLEGT Programme.

Commenting on today’s opening of the Summit the Executive Director of Global Timber Forum, Rachel Butler said: “Given the realities of engaging with small businesses across complex supply chains it is only by convening together that their associations will strengthen their role in working towards a viable tropical forest trade.”

In his keynote address to the Summit, His Excellency Mr Jacques Denis Tsanga, Ministre des Eaux et Forêts, chargé de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable, Gabon stated “I aim to encourage the move from a buyer-driven timber industry to one that is supplier-driven and we will achieve this by continuing to promote ‘value-add’ in the sector. The industry we work in today is part of a complex international supply chain and I therefore want to thank the Global Timber Forum for initiating this Summit as it provides a unique opportunity for the sector associations of the region to work better as individual organisations and collaborate nationally, regionally and globally.”

Helder Muteia, Subregional Coordinator for Central Africa and FAO Representative in Gabon, FAO Subregional Office said “FAO is committed to strengthening the development of responsible agriculture and natural resource use through the adoption of best practices, sound intersectoral policies, and legal frameworks. We recognize the essential role that the private sector plays in achieving these goals, generating livelihoods, and providing stewardship of the forest resources for the future. We are encouraged to see so many representatives from the African timber industry gathered here for this event, to share experiences and learn from each other.”

Speaking at the start of the Summit, Francoise van de Ven, Secretary General of Union des Forestiers Industriel du Gabon et Aménagisteslocal organiser commented “This Summit has come at a perfect time, the industry is keen to play its part and we are delighted to host this in Gabon.”

Glen Asomaning, Operations Director of Nature & Development Foundation (NDF) stated “Only multi- stakeholder processes will ensure long-term viability for forest management and it is important that we create these spaces for groups to consider their solutions.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Summit is organised by Global Timber Forum (GTF) with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through the FAO EU FLEGT Program “Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade” “(FLEGT) funded by the European Union, the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom and FAO.

About the organisers

Global Timber Forum grows responsible trade through initiating research-led and expert interventions that will build knowledge and capabilities in the forest and wood-based sector

The FAO and European Union (EU) Programme on Enforcement of Forest Laws, Governance and Trade (FLEGT FAO-EU Program) seeks to reduce and eventually, eliminate illegal logging to improve forest governance. The program is funded by the EU, the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom and FAO.

For further information please contact:

For GTF:

Andrew Escott
andrewescott@gtf-info.com

For FAO:

Daphne Hewitt
Daphne.hewitt@fao.org

Levy Bouassa
Levy.bouassa@fao.org