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VNGO-EVFTA Network Kick-off Meeting

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One of the driving forces behind the aspects of sustainability in recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) is the participation of civil society organisations (CSOs). For such participation to be truly effective, member organisations must be closely knit. Recognising the importance of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) implementation, with a focus on timber trade and the environment, the Network of Vietnamese non-government organisations on Europe-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (VNGO-EVFTA) was officially established. The activity was approved in the last VNGO-EVFTA Network Kick-off Meeting on November 16, 2020, at the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD).

The meeting, which was held both online and offline, was attended by representatives of Vietnamese NGOs, members of the Associations of Timber and Forest Products. Chairing the meeting were the Management Team of SRD and project officers, including Mrs Vu Thi Bich Hop – Executive Director of SRD, Mr Nguyen Phu Hung - Deputy Director of SRD cum EVFTA Project Manager. Members of SRD’s Board of Trustees, Mr Nguyen Ba Ngai - Former Deputy Director of the General Department of Forestry, current Vice Chairman of the Forest Owners Association, and Mr Vu Van Trieu - Former Chief Representative of IUCN, were also in attendance.

 

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Mrs Vu Thi Bich Hop – SRD's Executive Director

 

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 Mr Nguyen Phu Hung - Deputy Director of SRD cum EVFTA Project Manager

 

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 Mr Nguyen Ba Ngai - Former Deputy Director of the General Department of Forestry, current Vice Chairman of the Forest Owners Association, and Mr Vu Van Trieu - Former Chief Representative of IUCN

 

Following the 3rd Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Sustainable Forest Governance and Timber Trade on October 21, 2020, the Network Kick-off Meeting was held to announce the establishment of the VNGO-EVFTA network. At the same time, members discussed the regulations and proposed future plans for the network. 

To start the meeting, Mrs Vu Thi Bich Hop gave her opening speech, stating the purpose of the event and the importance of CSOs participation in the implementation of EVFTA.

 

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 Mrs Vu Thi Bich Hop starting the meeting

 

In his speech, Mr Nguyen Phu Hung emphasised the considerable influence of EVFTA on forestry sectors, timber trade in particular, and assessed the linkages between CSOs in the EVFTA implementation process. 

 

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 Mr Nguyen Phu Hung giving his speech in the meeting

 

Mr Nguyen Thanh Hien - Research Quality Controller of SRD presented an assessment report on the capacity of organisations under the VNGO-FLEGT and other organisations that are interested in VPA/FLEGT and EVFTA. The report summarised the results, the opportunities and challenges that members would face in the future.

 

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 Mr Nguyen Thanh Hien presenting the assessment report on capacity of organisations under the VNGO-FLEGT

 

Next, Mrs Le Hong Lien - Coordinator of the EVFTA Project - presented the draft regulations and strategy for the VNGO-EVFTA network and the first-year network action plan.  

 

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 Mrs Le Hong Lien presenting the first-year network action plan

 

After the presentations, the attendees discussed issues related to the network's organisational structure and operating mechanism. In which, comments on how to operate the network have been received positively. At the end of the meeting, the members nominated and agreed on the list of the network's Executive Board.  

 

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 An overview of the meeting

 

The VNGO-EVFTA Network Kick-off Meeting promised to be the starting point for a series of activities to increase the engagement of CSOs in the implementation of EVFTA, related to forestry and timber trade. Following the meeting, the members will continue to improve the organisational structure and the regulations and build the network's operational plan.

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