FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

Collaboration key to strengthening forest governance


As countries step up their efforts to fulfill commitments made under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and Agenda 2030, the cross-cutting theme of improved forest governance is at the centre of efforts to halt deforestation and forest degradation as well as action to achieve Nationally Determined Contributions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking during a panel discussion of the European Commission’s high-level conference “Our Forests, our Future, sustainable forest management to address societal challenges”, Tiina Vähänen, Chief of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Forestry Policy and Resources Division, spelled out FAO’s well-established commitment to address forest loss and forest degradation. The conference, convened under the initiative of the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, gathered stakeholders to analyse and discuss opportunities to increase coherence in forest-related policy issues and the associated challenges.

FAO’s support to countries to strengthen forest governance encompasses a number of activities,  including the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme (FLEGT) and initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), such as the United Nations REDD UN-REDD Programme, a joint programme of FAO, the United Nations Development Programme, and United Nations Environment Programme, the Central African Forest Initiative and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

 “While tackling the issue from different angles, the combined action of FAO’s FLEGT and REDD+ programmes can address the drivers of forest loss in tropical countries, as well as increase in-country coordination and implementation between various programmes. The resulting synergies can support national forest governance reforms and strengthen multi-stakeholder engagement,” said Vähänen, who is also ad interim coordinator of the FAO REDD+/National Forest Monitoring cluster.

Vähänen illustrated the benefits of coordinated action between REDD+ and FLEGT to curb illegal timber trade. Both programmes facilitate inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue, clarify forest tenure, support legal and policy reform, increase transparency and incentivize the private sector to adopt sustainable forest management practices.

“While there are many localized joint efforts, increased coordination between programmes can also help develop a systematic approach to address forest and land governance issues,” Vähänen said.

Vähänen cited several examples of successful FAO-EU FLEGT and REDD+ collaboration. In Côte d'Ivoire, the two programmes supported the government in convening a multi-stakeholder national legal working group, identifying inconsistencies across sectoral legislation and developing forest law implementing decrees in order to address timber legality and deforestation and degradation challenges. In Colombia the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme was designed along the lines of a community forestry model, in alignment with the national REDD+ strategy and subsequently developed with support from UN-REDD, to strengthen forest monitoring and timber traceability systems. Working with the government in Viet Nam, FAO developed five provincial REDD+ action plans and provided technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of smallholders, state-owned forest companies and forest management boards to pursue sustainable forest management and certification, particularly for plantation forests, and assisted small- and medium-sized enterprises and smallholders to meet timber legality requirements.

The development of web portals by REDD+, such as Open Foris Toolkit, SEPAL forest monitoring platform and The Open Timber Portal, have also helped increase the transparency of forest operations by making previously inaccessible information available to the public. Better data and monitoringas well as public access to information on forest products, improved on-the- ground management practices and national timber legality compliance inscribed by FLEGT are also key factors of successful forest governance.


FAO-EU FLEGT Programme (http://www.fao.org/in-action/eu-fao-flegt-programme)

REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (http://www.fao.org/redd/en/)

Our Forests, Our Future - sustainable forest management to address societal challenges (https://ec.europa.eu/info/events/forestry-conference-2019-apr-25_en)