The project explored synergies between processes to develop a FLEGT Voluntary Partner Agreement (VPA) timber legality definition and REDD+ safeguards in Vietnam. The development of a VPA timber legality definition and REDD+ safeguards in countries involved in both FLEGT VPA and REDD+ processes, such as Vietnam, creates opportunities for complementarities.
The objective of the project was to explore complementarities between processes for developing REDD+ safeguards and a VPA legality definition in Vietnam, a country that is involved in both. Safeguards built into the international REDD+ framework minimise social and environmental risks from REDD+ and enhance benefits. Developing safeguards involves analysing and improving national policies, laws and regulations. The FLEGT VPA process requires similar analyses to develop a VPA timber legality definition.
In 2013, Vietnam embarked on formulating safeguards for REDD+ according to a road map agreed through a multi-stakeholder process. The objective was to meet UNFCCC REDD+ obligations for safeguards. The sub-technical working group on REDD+ safeguards, established under the National REDD+ Network and co-chaired by the Vietnam Forest Administration (VNFOREST) and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), undertook a comprehensive gap analysis of relevant national policies, laws and regulations.
The legality definition is narrower in scope compared to the environmental and social sustainability aspects of the REDD+ safeguards.
In parallel, Vietnam engaged in negotiations for a FLEGT VPA with the EU. The VPA requires the development of a timber legality assurance system (TLAS) and a definition of what constitutes legal timber.
The timber legality definition and the UNFCCC REDD+ safeguards are structurally mismatched. Although potentially dealing with aspects related to the allocation of forest titles, forest tenure and rights to use forests, the main purpose of the timber legality definition is to verify the legality of timber along the value chain. The legality definition is thus narrower in scope compared to the environmental and social sustainability aspects of the REDD+ safeguards.
At the time of the study, the processes in Vietnam to develop a VPA legality definition and REDD+ safeguards were at different stages. The challenge was to find immediate opportunities for synergies between the two processes. This meant exploring, for example, whether analyses of gaps in existing policies, laws and regulations for the draft legality definition could also inform the development of REDD+ safeguards.
The EU REDD Facility worked with the co-chair of the Vietnam National REDD+ Network sub-technical working group on safeguards to explore interactions and the potential for synergies between the processes for developing REDD+ safeguards and the FLEGT VPA in Vietnam.