Not letting the FLEGT conversation flag

26 April 2021

The TTF has big ambitions for its campaign to communicate the FLEGT timber legality assurance initiative, with COP26 a key focus, says FLEGT communications executive Lucy Bedry

With 2021 declared the new ‘Super Year for Nature’, the TTF FLEGT communications campaign will continue its efforts to enhance customer and specifiers awareness to the benefits of FLEGT-licensed timber as a safe, legal, and responsible method of timber use.

Ahead of the rescheduled COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November, we wanted to create a platform to highlight environmental concerns through design, inviting discussion on the role of forests in averting the climate emergency.

Conversations about Climate Change is a design competition, exhibition, and event series, showcasing thought-provoking designs using responsibly sourced tropical timber. The virtual exhibition at the London Building Centre can be accessed online (https:// climate-change-the-virtual-exhibition), and we hope the in-person exhibition will still be available to visit once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

The TTF FLEGT project works to tackle stereotypes around tropical timber, educating audiences on the benefits of specifying and including FLEGT in procurement policies as a holistic approach to responsible, sustainable timber. Engaging with designers, architects, and craftspeople on the benefits of FLEGT-licensing has been really well received.

When it comes to communicating complex conversations, we took the approach that the best mechanism is to start designing with it – to showcase the beauty and unique properties of tropical hardwoods, the encompassing benefits to countries engaging in FLEGT, and to trace the story back from there.

The EU/UK FLEGT initiative helps combat illegal logging, subsequent illegal timber trade and deforestation. In return for aid and technical support, tropical forest countries can progress through the vital stages of VPAs (Voluntary Partnership Agreements), which support the overhaul of their legal and regulatory governance frameworks. In return FLEGT-licensed countries receive a ‘green lane’ into Europe/UK.

With further Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office government funding, our TTF FLEGT Project has big ambitions. We are planning a further design initiative, with an exhibition to coincide with COP26 in November, promoting FLEGT and highlighting the environmental significance of forests and timber.

We have also begun plans for the construction of a timber pavilion at COP26 and the creation of an holistic programme with other FCDO grantees, bringing together all willing VPA FLEGT countries to develop a joint tropical timber manifesto and agenda. This will focus on FLEGT and tropical hardwoods and will include advocacy of zero tariffs for FLEGT-licensed products.

Communications will continue after COP26 to ensure changes initiated remain on the climate agenda, with enhanced promotion of FLEGT to specifiers in Europe and the UK. Further educational work includes additional e-learning modules for national associations on FLEGT, sustainable forest management and timber legality/ sustainability.

Forests are our greatest tool in the climate emergency. We must not falter in increasing sustainable timber usage, investment through supply chains and procurement to grow and protect our forests around the world.

To find out more, email [email protected]

Lucy Bedry