Ecocare Ghana Launches Atumpan Project to Communicate FLEGT
EcoCare Ghana on Thursday 17th October launched the Atumpan projet (communicating FLEGT) at the Forestry Commission Auditorium. The purpose of the project is to effectively communicate Ghana’s FLEGT-VPA processes, milestones and outcomes towards EU market actors and other stakeholder, in preparation towards FLEGT licensing.
The project is being funded by FAO-EU-FLEGT PROGRAMME (Food and Agricultural Organisation-European Union- Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade). The project is expected to last 12 months.
The launch brought together stakeholders from government (FORESTRY COMMISSION), private sector (Timber Industry), civil society organizations and the media.
As Ghana gets closer to issuing Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses, it has been established that there is the need for strong and clear precursory information to the trade destinations, particularly the European Union, to be aware of the products that will be delivered and the national overarching system behind the issuance of FLEGT licenses.
The Atumpan project therefore addresses the need for effective information sharing on Ghana’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreements (FLEGT-VPA), which is a priority area for Ghana as the country gets closer to issuing FLEGT licenses.
The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, sorts to promote the implementation of the FLEGT Action Plan by improving forest governance, providing technical assistance, and building capacity through funding projects in eligible countries. In pursuit of these objectives, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has agreed to support the project entitled “Atumpan” – The Talking Drum.
Proceedings of the Meeting.
The meeting kick started at 9:30am and ended around 1:30pm. Mr. Samuel Mawuto facilitated the programme and introduced the chair persons for the program. Mr. Abu Juam, the Technical Director at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, chaired and moderated the meeting. Mr. Chris Beeko, the Director for the Timber Validation Department, delivered the main presentation to set the context for the project. Nana Tawiah Okyere, the Acting Board Chairman of EcoCare Ghana, welcomed participants to the event, thanking them for making time to be part of the project launch. He also encouraged participants to continue to work with EcoCare as they continue to use new approaches to work in the Forest Sector.
There were 2 solidarity messages from private sector (Timber industry) and Civil Society. (Alex Dadzie spoke on behalf of the Ghana Timber Federation and Doreen Yeboah on behalf of Civil Society. Both messages stressed on the importance of communicating the process, effects and outcomes of FLEGT-VPA on our domestic market, economy and foreign market. Their messages targeted the expected effect and outcome the messages should have on both local and international consumers. During their speech, both speakers expressed their support and prospects for the Atumpan project.
Status of the Ghana VPA and the need for Communication – Presentation
Mr. Chris Beeko delivered the main presentation on the subject, Current status of the VPA, and the need to communicate the impact and progress of the process to all relevant audiences. His presentation touched on three areas. The first touched the present state of readiness and the next action steps for Ghana before the declaration of systems readiness. The second touched on essential milestones achieved in the FLEGT-VPA process emphasizing the advancements made in law enforcement and governance reform. The third and final section touched on the present communication challenges and feedback from the recent European Policy tour.
On the system readiness, Chris Beeko mentioned five categories of issues that need to be pushed for system readiness and licensing to go. They include
Issues with the modification of the Ghana wood tracking system to address the identified gaps.
- Addressing issues that can be fixed with clarifying existing text and practice and consistency with practices
- Addressing capacity of the public and private sector to apply for licenses
- Addressing the long-standing problem of extant timber rights and leases
He also highlighted significant advances in law enforcement, forest conditions, and governance reforms and trade processes.
His third segment of the presentation touched on the emerging challenge in the European Community that present challenges to FLEGT license generally. Those mentioned include the following.
To address these emerging challenges, Mr. Beeko highlighted three significant actions. The first being the need for multi-stakeholder approaches in communicating about FLEGT-VPA. The second, unpacking the definition of legality to show that FLEGT is more than legality, and lastly, an advised joint approach and response by VPA countries. The full presentation is attached to this report.
A significant discussion point from the presentation was the need for regular interaction between the Ghanaian stakeholders and the EU timber industry players. It was mentioned that the field trip by the EU Timber Federation members to Ghana in 2017 provided them a useful and first-hand insight into how the GhLAS is working and the different roles of the stakeholders. As such, such engagements need to be strengthened and deepened going forward. This would also need to be extended to the Competent Authorities so that they can understand better timber and wood products from Ghana.
Mr. Samuel Mawutor, Co-campaigner at EcoCare Ghana, gave the overview of the project and elaborated the project objective, expected outcomes, planned activities, and the project’s theory of change.
At the concluding hour of the meeting, the Chairman named the project Steering Committee. The committee encompassed 4 individuals with a good number of experience in the FLEGT-VPA process. All members of the committee agreed to the call of the invitation to serve on the committee and the draft terms of reference. Mr. Chris Beeko spoke on behalf of the committee, he pledged his support and strength together with other members to work diligently to see the project become successful. The committee members are as follows:
- Chris Beeko – TVD
- Chris Ackon – EUD
- Joyce Ofori-Kwafo – Forestry Commission
- Richard Nysenkyire – Ghana Timber Federation
- Doreen Yeboah – Civil Society
- Benjamin Adjei – FAO Regional Office.
The inception meeting brought together participants from the government sector, private sector, civil society, lawyers, the media just to mention a few.