Lao Technical Working Groups (TWGs) discuss and agree on how to proceed with monitoring of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA)

VPA monitoring ensures the effective implementation of the Lao Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), aiming to secure the timber legality in all markets with minimal impacts. Four types of monitoring are applied to a VPA : (i) independent evaluation (IE) of the TLAS implementation, (ii) VPA impact assessment to assess and mitigate the potential negative impacts (economic, environmental and social) of VPA implementation, (iii) independent market monitoring to assess quantitative market impacts of the VPA and FLEGT licensed timber, and (iv) independent observation (IO) to observe the TLAS implementation. With the support from the GIZ Project “Protection and sustainable use of forests and biodiversity” (ProFEB), TWGs representing line ministries, the private sector and CSOs discussed IE and IO during several meetings between December 2021 and February 2022.

TWGs discussed the detailed Terms of Reference for IE, which describe, among others, the objectives, scope and mandates for this monitoring type. In addition, TWGs also discussed two options for IO, such as systematic observation and voluntary observation, of which the voluntary observation was agreed by the participants of the TWG to be most suitable in the Lao context.

With the participation of all relevant stakeholders in the consultation process, the proposed methodologies for IE and IO for the Lao TLAS will reflect the reality of the Lao context. The draft Terms of Reference for IE and the proposal for IO will be presented to the national support and development committee (NSDC) for technical approval before presenting and negotiating with the EU in the 5th Joint expert meeting (JEM5).