VPA focal points
Most partner-country governments establish a national focal point to coordinate the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process. The focal point may be an individual or a structure, either within or outside an existing government agency. Governments may identify focal points during or before VPA negotiations. Focal points may continue to coordinate a VPA process during the implementation phase:
- In the Central African Republic, the government appointed a civil servant in the environment ministry as the focal point to function as the secretariat for the VPA National Coordinating Committee. The civil servant handled the administrative and logistical aspects of the process and had one assistant.
- In Ghana, the government appointed a civil servant in the Forestry Commission as a focal point in addition to existing duties.
- In Indonesia, before formal VPA negotiations began, the Ministry of Forestry formally identified a group of 12 civil servants to serve as the focal point. The group conducted activities to raise awareness and deliberate on the VPA both in the ministry and in other relevant government agencies. The group also developed material to support the Indonesian position, coordinated activities among government and other stakeholders, and organised the multistakeholder workshops that led to the decision to start negotiations.
- Laos established a focal point early in the pre-negotiation phase. The multistakeholder structure involved three ministries, the private sector and civil society.
- Liberia established an independent four-person technical secretariat to facilitate the VPA process. When negotiations ended, the government tasked the technical secretariat with coordinating VPA pre-implementation activities during the interim period between negotiations ending and ratification. Following ratification, the joint implementation committee became operational.