On March 1, 2019, the Government of Liberia and the European Union (EU) pledged to end illegal logging in Liberia. The statement was made following the hosting of this year’s Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting which ran from February 25 to March 1, 2019.
The European Union Non-State Actors (NSA) Project in Liberia applauds such intention, especially coming from the Government of Liberia. The project believes that all positive initiatives aimed at improving forest governance in Liberia must receive a big applaud; and that nothing pleases it than to translate those statements into practical reality for the good of forest communities.
The project notes with deep appreciation, ongoing efforts by the Liberian Government and other private regulatory bodies including the EU to revitalize the forestry sector and make it a center of transparency and accountability.
However, the project wants those efforts translated into action now and not limited to words; for too long, authorities have super lip reforms by crafting nice policies without enforcing them.
The statement by the government must be called to action now to ensure marginalized groups, including women and children who continue to suffer the excruciating perils associated with illegal logging and noncompliance to commitments made by logging companies, benefit.
The project, in its recent investigation realized that enough has been said without action and situation continues to remain the same; implying that it may get worst due to change of government.
The growth, survival and development of forest communities continue to be undermined by the lack of political will to prosecute or fast track cases of illegal logging and non compliance to social agreements by logging companies.
As a community focused project, with diverse interest in forest governance, it is excited to show to the world its commitments to advocacy and engagement in the interest of the communities and companies in compliance with Liberian forestry laws and regulations.
Even though some efforts can be seen from the government, the lack of attention from national stakeholders ranging from slow response to reports of illegal logging and non compliance and holistic monitoring of the forest at various levels undermines international reform efforts.
Forest being very important to development and environment, its socio-economic and environmental values is often overlooked, with only mass looting of its valuable substance for selfish gains being displayed in arrogance.
The EU-NSA Project encourages companies doing logging business in Liberia to operate in line with the Volunteer Partnership Agreement, which aims to ensure all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.
Meanwhile, the EU NSA Project in Liberia is calling on the government of Liberia to fast track activities leading to the restoration of the dignity of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), which has been rendered less important due to political influence.
Even though the EU-NSA Project is being funded by the European Union (EU) and Tropenbos International (TBI), all opinions expressed in this commentary do not reflect the views of the EU and TBI. All views expressed in here are solely the views of project staff.
Paul M. Kanneh
Advocacy, Networking & Communication Expert
EU-NSA Project, Liberia