The FLEG II Steering Committee, the highest decision-making body of the program, met in Chisinau, Moldova, to discuss progress during the second year of the Program, review and approve work plans for the upcoming year, and talk about priorities for the program’s final year.
The meeting brought together representatives from: the European Union, which funds the program; the three implementing organizations World Bank, WWF and IUCN; and the FLEG National Focal Points who represent the seven partner countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine.
Ion Cebanu, Director-General of the Agency Moldsilva, the Moldova government’s forest management agency, noted the importance of ENPI FLEG II Program for Moldova as “it helps solve problems in the forest sector by improving policies, legislation and institutional capacities, and contributes to the conservation and sustainable management of forests”.
Aneil Singh, Head of Operations of the EU Delegation to Moldova, emphasized the practical nature of the program. “This project is trying to help communities create a strong basis for growth and sustainable development. We aim to find practical and tangible solutions for countries involved in this project. It is less about long speeches and more about dealing with real forest issues,” said Mr. Singh.
Bilal Rahill, Director of the Environment & Natural Resources Global Practice at the World Bank, said “we know that forests in your countries play a very important role – they represent more than 20% of global forests. Because of this and the crucial role of forests for climate change mitigation, employment and rural development, and biodiversity conservation, it is extremely important that we focus and continue to work on sound and good forest governance. This regional program is offering exactly that opportunity.” Mr. Rahill listed some of the program’s achievements in the past year, which included training over 1,000 stakeholders in the region to use, manage and govern forests sustainably. Over 1200 householders were surveyed to determine forest income and natural resource value added. Over 50 practitioners in natural resource management have experienced business and management models in EU countries.
The preliminary results of the Program’s Mid-Term Review were presented at the meeting. The review was done by independent consultants and showed that FLEG is helping the participating countries in setting a pathway toward sustainability, and looking at forests from a long-term sustainability perspective, rather than as a resource to be exploited for short-term gain. However, the mid-term review concluded that without continued support and engagement, there is a danger that the impacts will fade over time. According to the review, while the immediate results of FLEG II are highly positive, this may not be sufficient to transform the progress into significant long-term impacts because countervailing forces (socio-political circumstances) remain and may work against progress made.
The program is reaching its final year and therefore the key priorities for the remaining 15 months include consolidating and institutionalizing results achieved, and devising exit strategies that will help maximize the long-term impacts of FLEG II and promote their sustainability. Moreover, as highlighted by Bella Nestorova, representative of the European Commission and FLEG Program manager who co-chaired the meeting, specific efforts need to be made to document and communicate the outcomes of the Program’s activities in an effective way.
In its afternoon session, the Steering Committee Meeting approved country work plans as well as the regional workplan. It was also recognized that country and regional activities may need to be adjusted and discussed with Country National Program Advisory Committees in light with the recommendations of the Mid-Term-Review.
On September 25th a half-day field trip was organized by the Agency Moldsilva to three forest sites, including the National Park Orhei, forest enterprise Orhei and a forest regeneration site.
The regional “European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) East Countries Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) II Program" promotes sustainable forest governance, management, and protection of forests in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.
The program ensures the contribution of the region's forests to climate change adaptation and mitigation, to ecosystems and biodiversity protection, and to sustainable livelihoods and income sources for local populations and national economies.
This program is funded by the European Commission and is implemented by the World Bank in partnership with WWF and IUCN over a four-year period (2013-2016).
The program builds on and further develops initiatives and activities undertaken during implementation of the first ENPI FLEG Program (2008-2012).