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Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in the Mekong Region

Over the past years the Mekong region countries have increased their role in global timber trade and have been a focal point in the global discussion on forest governance and illegal logging. Countries in the region have different and complementing roles in the regional trade but much of the logging in natural forests in the region is still either unsustainable or unauthorized – or both. In all the countries, forest law enforcement and governance (FLEG) has been an actively debated issue.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has made important progress in building regional commitment to improving good governance in the forest sector. The next step would be to develop concrete and substantive local, national and sub-regional forest governance and law enforcement programs and projects to implement the agreed policies in a tangible way.

The objective of the Mekong Project was to build on the political will demonstrated at the FLEG East Asia and Pacific Regional Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia (hosted by the World Bank and Government of Indonesia in September 2001) and in the ASEAN. It aimed to support diagnostics, capacity building, and policy and institutional reforms, through regional and national activities, that would directly address the causes and symptoms of forest crimes and improve forest governance generally.

Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam were the primary focus countries in the region.

The project took a phased approach, first identifying priority areas through multi-stakeholder consultation, and strengthening the knowledge base. Based on the regional consultative process, the next step will be dedicated to preparing and implementing a detailed action plan.

Improving Forest Governance in the Mekong Region, a report outlining options for regional activities improving forest governance in the Mekong region in support of national programs, was published in April 2011. The report is based on a series of workshops and analyses that were conducted in 2009 and 2010, as well as extensive interviews with experts from national and regional programs in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. Representatives from government, civil society, industry and regional bodies such as ASEAN participated in two workshops held in Lao PDR and Vietnam. Analysis was also made on Myanmar to research potential for involvement in regional activities.

  • The first volume presents current FLEG trends in the Mekong region, where countries have taken steps to respond to increased demands for accountability and legality of timber and wood product exports.
  • The second volume identifies 13 areas of potential collaboration in the region. All of them:
    - include regional components that cover issues common to several Mekong countries but would still support national processe
    - utilize existing committees, working groups, forest governance processes and participants rather than establishing new administrative layers
    - increase accountability and transparency in decision-making and access to information, and
    - focus on building capacity to manage systems and processes beyond the term of project activities.

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Author : World Bank and PROFOR
Last Updated : 02-24-2017