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Support to VPA stakeholders

In Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) processes to date, development programmes have supported national governments, civil society organisations and/or the private sector. Support has included capacity building, technical advice and logistical assistance during pre-negotiation, negotiation and implementation phases.

FLEGT facilitators

Most VPA processes have benefited from the involvement of a neutral, EU-funded Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) facilitator. The facilitator supports the process, helps ensure the effective engagement of stakeholders and helps stakeholders identify solutions to problems. To date the EU, or an EU member state, has funded the facilitator. However, the facilitator is neutral and works toward a strong VPA, providing support to both the EU and the partner country.

Technical assistants

The government of a timber-exporting country may need additional support in a particular area, such as stakeholder participation or timber traceability.

Development programmes have often provided technical specialists to work in government institutions in partner countries. Several VPA partner countries have requested support from donors for specialists to help them think through and organise inputs to VPA negotiations and/or VPA implementation. In bilateral negotiations, such technical assistants support the timber-exporting country. Technical assistants can also support a VPA process by process by, for instance:

  • Helping a government set up national structures for multistakeholder consultation or participatory approaches to ensure stakeholders have input
  • Identifying capacity needs
  • Providing administrative support to help a government organise key meetings, workshops, negotiations and other activities

International organisations and development agencies

International and development organisations have often set up programmes or provided grants to help national stakeholders:

  • Participate in VPA processes
  • Build capacity to work on forest governance issues
  • Support VPA processes in other ways

In addition to the European Commission, organisations helping national stakeholders include:


The EU FLEGT Facility

The EU FLEGT Facility, hosted by the European Forest Institute, provides technical assistance to government and other stakeholder groups in timber-exporting countries to support the negotiation and implementation of VPAs. The Facility can:

  • Help with information sharing, capacity building and regional collaboration on FLEGT
  • Inform interested countries about the FLEGT Action Plan and VPAs
  • Support national dialogue in interested countries on whether to pursue a VPA
  • Clarify technical aspects of the VPA, such as legality assurance systems, transparency objectives and joint implementation committees
  • Bring lessons learnt from other VPA processes
  • Support countries in developing legality assurance systems
  • Support VPA country stakeholders in planning and implementing activities to meet VPA objectives and commitments
  • Help countries identify capacity needs to meet the requirements set out in a VPA

EU-based nongovernmental organisations

Several EU-based nongovernmental organisations are involved in VPA processes in timber-exporting countries. The activities of NGOs include strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to make effective use of the negotiation space created by a VPA process, and conducting policy-relevant research to support stakeholder advocacy.

Organisations that support civil society groups in timber-exporting countries through capacity building and advocacy activities include:

Non-profit organisations that support private-sector stakeholders in timber-exporting countries include:

Trade associations also provide support. Among other things, they help European importers understand conditions in VPA partner countries so they can ensure that they source legal material. Trade associations include:

  • The European Timber Trade Federation ( and its membership of national timber trade federations in EU member states, such as the UK Timber Trade Federation (
  • The Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (

Community Rights Network

The Community Rights Network is an international network of civil society organisations concerned with forest governance. Many network members are organisations in countries that are negotiating or implementing VPAs. The network meets every two years to share information and develop strategies. The network presents findings and concerns to the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament.

More information

External links

Duffield, L. and Ozinga, S. 2014. Making Forestry Fairer. A Practical Guide for Civil Society Organisations Taking Part in VPA Negotiations. FERN. 68pp. [Download PDF]