Happy New Year
Phil Woolas Minister of State for the Environment gave his first key note speech at the international illegal logging meeting organised by Chatham House held in January. A wide audience from all sectors listened to Phil outline the Government’s commitment to climate change and to addressing issues of illegal logging. He spoke of the historic Bali conference and how he hopes that this will progress in the future, while also highlighting how 2008 will be a promising year for forests. The Japanese G8 presidency, further developments with the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreements and the role of the PM’s special envoys will all play a major part in efforts to tackle illegal logging in the coming months.
Things always seem quiet over the Christmas period – but there has been a lot of back room activity. With the impending implementation of the new policy in April 2009, we have been drafting new guidance. Discussions were held with the Reference Board at the end of last year based on comments received through the stakeholder meetings and written submissions. Ministers are now reviewing the recommendations on implementation and we hope to have some decisions very soon.
So what do we have planned for 2008? One of the big activities this year will be the 3rd review of certification schemes. This is planned to commence in May and be finalised by September. This will focus on how the schemes have changed over the two year period since the last review.
Another key activity identified as part of the implementation strategy is encouraging other non-mandated public bodies to adopt the policy, particularly local authorities. Ministers recognise that the public sector should lead the way as consumers of timber and this has prompted both Phil Woolas MP (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Gareth Thomas MP (Department for International Development) to co-author press articles on why the policy is such as important part of the Government’s climate change and development agendas.
At the end of last year the Reference Board welcomed two new members. John White of the TTF replaced Andy Roby. He has gone to pastures new, working on developing the FLEGT programme in Indonesia – we hope to hear of his progress later in the year! The second crucial acquisition to the Board is Hugh Speechly who will represent Dfid – an important addition given the joint Defra/Dfid commitment to the FLEGT process. The next meeting will take place on 12th Feb.
As you can read from one of our articles Sofie has been busy with workshops, visiting Newcastle for two days in December and then Northern Ireland for three in January. We are always keen to present at events so please contact Sofie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the helpline on 01865 243 766 to discuss your requirements.
Following on from the Minister’s keynote speech, I also gave an update on where CPET and Defra are on implementation, progress so far on all activities and what the priorities are for 2008. A report of the Minister’s speech and other presentations at the meeting will be available on www.illegal-logging.info.
Kind regards Raich