APEC’s Expert Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT) is one of the newest APEC fora, established in 2011.
EGILAT is committed to:
- Serve as a platform for member economies to strengthen policy dialogue on combating illegal logging and associated trade and promoting trade in legally harvested forest products;
- Consider and share information, where available, on policies that combat illegal logging and associated trade and promote trade in legally harvested forest products, and exchange views on how to learn from successful policies;
- Provide member economies with opportunities to exchange information, views, experiences, and analyses on relevant matters, including on (i) developments in laws, regulations, and other measures relating to combating illegal logging and associated trade, (ii) new technologies designed to assist efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade and promote trade in legally harvested forest products, and (iii) data and other information on production, processing, exports, imports, and consumption of forest products, to the extent available;
- Assist member economies in identifying capacity building needs and developing targeted capacity building assistance;
- Facilitate law enforcement cooperation and information sharing related to combating illegal logging and associated trade, consistent with domestic law and in accordance with applicable international agreements (e.g., by creating sub-groups, exchanging enforcement personnel, holding joint law enforcement meetings and exercises, and participating in and/or establishing law enforcement networks);
- Recognizing APEC’s commitment and activities relating to sustainable forest management and rehabilitation, as well as work on these topics in international and regional forestry organizations, collaborate with those organizations, as appropriate, and endeavor to ensure that its activities complement and do not duplicate activities being carried out in those organizations; and
- Collaborate with industry and civil society to raise awareness and contribute to national and regional efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade and promote trade in legally harvested forest products.
EGILAT’s genesis lies in the APEC Leaders’ meeting in Yokohama in 2010, at which Leaders pledged to enhance cooperation to address concerns with illegal logging and associated trade and to promote sustainable forest management and rehabilitation.
Following Yokohama, in 2011, APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade directed officials to establish an experts group in order to promote trade in legally harvested forest products, combat illegal logging and associated trade, and build capacity. At the APEC Leaders’ meeting in Hawaii in 2011, Leaders committed to work to implement appropriate measures to prohibit trade in illegally harvested forest products and undertake additional activities in APEC to combat illegal logging and associated trade.
APEC’s role in the promotion of legally harvested forest products and combatting illegal logging and associated trade is an important one, given that APEC economies account for approximately 53 percent of the world’s forests, 60 percent of global production of forest products, and 80 percent of global trade in forest products, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. APEC’s forest products trade was valued at over $150 billion in 2010. The United Nations estimates that over 1.6 billion people worldwide depend directly on forests for food, clothing and shelter.
EGILAT came together twice in 2015 to discuss the following: exchange of information on policies, regulations, governance and law enforcement relating to combating illegal logging and promoting trade in legal forest products; the drafting of the EGILAT Timber Legality Guidance Template and the Common Understanding of the Scope of Illegal Logging and Associated Trade; the cooperation with customs, law enforcement authorities, business sector and relevant international/regional organizations in combatting illegal logging and associated trade; the appropriate approach to propose EGILAT projects for capacity building needs; and the regular items such as the update on EGILAT Multi-year Strategic Plan 2013-2017 and the annual Work Plan.
EGILAT also worked with other for a, such as the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) and Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group to share views and discuss future cooperation among forestry, customs and law enforcement authorities in combatting illegal logging and associated trade.
The 3rd Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry, held on 27-29 October 2015 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, tackled the following: 1) supporting sustainable forest management, conservation and forest rehabilitation to mitigate the impact of climate change; 2) policies on plantation for large scale agricultural development and best management practices; 3) challenges in maintaining and strengthening efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade; and 4) mechanisms, policies and best practices to attract and maintain real investment in the development of forests and forest resources. The meeting also discussed the Report on the Assessment of Progress towards the 2020 APEC Forest Cover Goal. And a dialogue between delegates and private sector was held in the afternoon of October 28.
Current challenges to combating illegal logging in the region was the objective of the Training Workshop on Enhancing Forest Governance for the Asia and the Pacific in the Context of Timber Legality Verification was held on 2-13 July 2015 in Kunming, China, jointly with the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet). During the workshop, possible steps for implementing legality verification systems were also discussed.
The EGILAT has endeavored to achieve its goal to enhance the efforts of member economies to take steps to combat illegal logging and associated trade, promote trade in legally harvested forest products, and support capacity building activities in member economies, since its establishment in 2011.
A number of achievements have been made:
- Finalized two milestone documents: the APEC EGILAT Timber Legality Guidance Template and the APEC Common Understanding of the Scope of Illegal Logging and Associated Trade, which paved the way for the mutual understanding of each economy’s laws or regulations relating to identify illegal logging and associated trade. The documents will also provide greater transparency and clarity to members of the private sector and civil society that are engaged in efforts to promote legal wood production and trade;
- Conducted information sharing sessions among members and relevant international/regional organizations during its meetings to learn from each other the policies, regulations, experience and best practices in combatting illegal logging and associated trade;
- Held joint meetings with SCCP and ACTWG to explore areas of common interests and possible approaches for cooperation to synergize the work in combatting illegal logging and associated trade among forestry, customs and law enforcement authorities;
- Engaged the private sector and held private-sector dialogue with forestry industries from a range of APEC and relevant non-APEC economies to discuss about the market responses to legality requirements in the global marketplace, and new technologies and tools for legal trade in forest products;
- Completed a couple of self-funded projects, e.g. the Workshop on Developing Timber Legality Assurance Systems, and the Training Workshop on Enhancing Forest Governance in the Context of Timber Legality Verification, to build capacity in APEC economies to improve the governance and management of the logging industry, and thereby reduce illegal logging and illicit trade.
EGILAT members also worked with the APFNet in conducting the Assessment of Progress towards the 2020 APEC Forest Cover Goal. The report of the assessment is finalized in October 2015 and could be accessed here.
Dr. Ruth TURIA
Director, Forest Policy and Planning
Department of International Cooperation
Papua New Guinea Forest Authority
Susan KULUKULU (Ms)
Senior Export Admin Officer
Project Allocations Directorate
Papua New Guinea Forest Authority
Zhiwei Lu (Mr)