Achieving zero-deforestation commitments: Lessons from FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements

Public and private-sector zero-deforestation initiatives must address forest and land-use governance challenges, and build on ongoing governance reforms in commodity-producing countries. This paper extracts lessons from Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) developed under the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, and underlines the importance of actions that go beyond supply chains.

Key messages

  • Lessons from FLEGT VPA experiences can assist efforts to define the enabling environment stakeholders need to put in place to make zero-deforestation production and related trade a reality.
  • VPA experiences show that market access and trade provide strong incentives for commodity producers to comply with demand-side requirements — including environmental, social and governance criteria — and can trigger forest and land-use governance reforms.
  • Dialogue and cooperation among public and private stakeholders in commodity-producing countries is critical to foster mutual understanding, broad consensus and effective implementation of zero-deforestation commitments.
  • It is necessary to define ‘zero-deforestation’ at the national or jurisdictional level and also to clarify legal and institutional frameworks, as they enable stakeholders to understand rights, responsibilities and obligations.
  • Approaches that focus on compliance with existing legal frameworks at national or jurisdictional level, such as FLEGT VPAs or zero illegal deforestation approaches, respect commodity producing countries’ own forest and land-use decisions.