Members of the NGO Coalition of Liberia have once again reaffirmed their unflinching support and commitment to the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) amidst effort to stay the course of the process.
The NGO Coalition of Liberia is a conglomeration of local non-governmental organizations working alongside government and international partners to ensure the prudent management of Liberia’s natural resources including its forests.
The VPA between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Liberia (GoL) is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU. It aims to ensure that all timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country such as Liberia, comply with the laws of that country.
The NGO Coalition in a release said the VPA is providing a much-needed technical support to Liberia’s Forestry Sector.
It noted that the Coalition’s reaffirmation to the VPA comes in the wake of a revision of progress during the 6th Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) Forum held in June 2018, which has resulted into the signing of an aide memoire base on noticeable lapses for the past five years (September 2013-September 2018).
“The need for commitment to this process is reviewed by an annual Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) forum and sealed by an aide memoire. In spite of completion and publication of the aide memoire, the NGO Coalition of Liberia believes that partners should recommit, engage and collaborate on the VPA, which aims to support the prudent management and fair distribution of revenues from natural resources,” said the release.
The organization pointed out that the first JIC review this year initially ended in a deadlock on June 14, 2018, due to the EU and GoL failure to concur on certain key issues that were believed to be very crucial to the process.
However, after a month-long debate, which led to clarifications and declaration of positions at the level of the VPA, the aide memoire was finally signed on July 10.
“The NGO Coalition, like another other patriotic organization, fully understands the challenges and constraints the Pro-Poor government is experiencing in terms of accessing funding for national development. And this, the Coalition must acknowledge that it stands with government in its drive to attract financials resources to carry out the much-needed development,” the group indicated.
“The Coalition believes such effort must not undermine ongoing reform process in forest governance by the European Union and other international partners, which is intended to safeguard the remaining forests and empower community’s members on how to negotiate social agreements,” the Coalition urged.
Among other things, the NGO coalition of Liberia added that its members implore the Liberian government to remain committed and ensure continuance of the VPA as it brings immense benefits and immeasurable impacts that have been assessed so far.