To ask the Secretary of State for International Development
(1) what plans his Department has to assist African governments with the implementation of the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Declaration;
(2) what plans he has to discuss the implementation of the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Declaration with the Government of Cameroon; and what steps he is taking to assist the implementation of the indicative actions relating to bushmeat;
(3) what plans his Department has to combat illegal logging in (a) Ghana and (b) Cameroon in the next 12 months;
(4) what discussions he has had with the World Bank concerning the implementation of the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Declaration;
(5) if he will discuss the implementation of the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Declaration with the Government of Ghana; and what plans he has to assist the implementation of the indicative actions relating to the issue of bushmeat.
Mr. Gareth Thomas:
The Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG) Conference was held in Cameroon in October 2003. The Declaration commits timber producing and consuming countries to tackle illegal logging and associated trade. It includes an extensive list of "indicative actions". The Declaration suggested that the World Bank finance a meeting of regional representatives of the AFLEG process and decide on the next steps and the next meeting of the United Nations Forum on Forests, in Geneva in May, is the most suitable occasion for this follow-up and we are in discussion with the World Bank about this. We have also discussed with the World Bank a review of the effects of economic reform programmes on forest law enforcement and governance, as called for in the Declaration.
The UK's support to the AFLEG declaration will be delivered through the EU and through the programmes of the Department for International Development (DFID). The UK is working with the European Commission and member states on the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. The Action Plan provides for Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between the EU and timber producing countries. Initial discussions with Cameroon and Ghana on VPAs took place in London in December. Further discussions will be organised by the European Commission and member states with these and other African countries in the coming months.
At the London meeting in December officials from Cameroon explained that they would incorporate AFLEG follow-up actions within their sector reform programme (the Forest and Environment Sector Programme). This Programme spans forest and wildlife management. It aims to improve governance and will emphasise the involvement of local communities in management. DFID has, with other development agencies, supported the development of this Programme and is currently in discussion with the Government of Cameroon about their future support. Our support will be to the programme as a whole and not to any particular elements of it. In addition to this, over the next twelve months we will continue our support to independent monitoring of timber harvesting by Global Witness.
In Ghana DFID has been supporting a broad programme of forest and wildlife sector reform over many years. This has radically changed the institutions and the way natural resources are managed, promoting better governance and greater accountability. Over the next 12 months the new timber concession system will be implemented which includes better environmental standards and social responsibility agreements with forest fringe communities. In addition, DFID is supporting two new initiatives to improve the involvement and oversight of civil society and Parliament in forest and wildlife management.
The list of "indicative actions" included in the AFLEG Declaration is not a plan of action. We have not singled out support to any "indicative actions" related to bushmeat. Our support to sector reforms in both Ghana and Cameroon does, however, aim to strengthen the capacity of those countries to deal with wildlife and poverty issues. It is for the governments concerned to prioritise actions within their sector reform programmes.