Defra meet with the Spanish counterparts
On Thursday 21st February 2008, Defra officials visited Madrid to meet counterparts in the Spanish Ministry for Environment, Spanish Greenpeace and WWF and the Spanish Association of Timber Importers.
The visit followed Defra Minister Joan Ruddock’s bilateral discussion with Spanish Minister Antonio Serrano at a Business and Biodiversity Conference in November 2007 and was a first stage in a UK/Spanish dialogue on timber procurement policies. The Spanish government highlighted that timber is part of their recently presented Green Procurement Plan, and they are trying to ensure that timber purchased by the government should be from legal and sustainable sources. Officials were keen to work with the UK on developing the detail of the policy and building on this dialogue, and both Member States agreed the value of contributing to a wider EU discussion.
Spanish WWF and Greenpeace expressed their concern with implementation of the Spanish timber procurement policy at the regional and local government level. This is similar to the situation in the UK, where central government departments in England are mandated by the UK policy but local authorities are not. Officials agreed the importance of encouraging the wider public sector to adopt a timber procurement policy and discussed the UK's implementation strategy aimed at raising awareness, and increasing monitoring and reporting across the central and local government estate.
This meeting was followed by a discussion with the Spanish Association of Timber Importers which represents 165 companies and has developed a code of conduct promoting sustainable forest management. Twenty four members have signed up to this code of conduct which was ratified by the Rainforest Alliance in 2006. The Spanish Association of Timber Importers were interested to hear about the work that the UK government and TTF have been doing to promote sustainable forest management.
The three meetings with government, civil society and trade were a very promising first step in developing a dialogue with Spain.