To strengthen due diligence implementation in Vietnam, Preferred by Nature and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have launched a free e-training course with a focus on timber imports into Vietnam.
The online course has been well received by the target audiences. Nearly 250 Vietnamese and international participants joined the online launch event in September when the two partners, GIZ and Preferred by Nature first introduced the course. Many of them were from regulating agencies, the private sector, training and research institutes and civil-social organisations.
Participants at the event launching the e-training course
“We are pleased to share our knowledge and experience in the development of this course. Preferred by Nature has a good track record in supporting the timber industry in Vietnam and we are committed to building the awareness of and knowledge on crucial issues related to timber legality, such as the need for a robust due diligence system (DDS) as well as identifying and mitigating legality risks”, said Ho Van Cu, Preferred by Nature’s Country Manager in Vietnam.
The course covers the principles of due diligence and its application in timber operators’ business activities. It is a combination of theory and exercises developed based on real-life cases and the requirements from the VPA/FLEGT (Volunteer Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) that the Government of Vietnam has engaged with.
Responsible approach to timber supply chains
“Many countries, including Vietnam, require enterprises to exercise due diligence. Due diligence requires enterprises to be responsible for their timber supply chains and to respect legality requirements. Taking the DDS e-training course will enable participants to learn about the Vietnam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS)”, said Anja Barth, Project Coordinator and Chief Technical Advisor of the GIZ/MARD ‘Support to VPA process in Vietnam’ Project.
However, due to various reasons, when it comes to DDS application, many timber businesses are facing various challenges. That is why this course was built to “gives participants practical insights on how to set up due diligence systems for their own enterprises”, added Anja.
As the representative of the timber industry, the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFOREST) is supporting the government to build capacity for timber enterprises, helping them to meet international standards on sustainable development.
“By signing the VPA/FLEGT, the Government of Vietnam has committed to eliminating illegal timber. Each Vietnamese enterprise should be well equipped to practice due diligence for the sake of their own survival and of the timber community in Vietnam,” stated Ngo Sy Hoai, Vice-chairman and Secretary General of VIFOREST.
Collective effort to improve timber legality
Earlier in 2014, Preferred by Nature carried out a three-year project funded by the European Commission to build awareness on FLEGT and develop free a free due diligence toolkit for small and medium-sized enterprises and civil society organisations. All the tools focus on helping timber companies to tackle FLEGT criteria for legality assurance. This was a preparation for the private sector for the later phase when the VPA/FLEGT was signed.
Several Vietnamese timber associations and companies have committed to contributing to the development of more sustainable timber industry. Photo: Anh Luu / Preferred by Nature
In June 2019, the VPA/FLEGT between Vietnam and the EU became effective. Since then, the Vietnamese Government has carried out various activities to enhance timber legality in the supply chain.
The issuance of Decree 102/2020/ND-CP on the Vietnam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS) in October 2020 was a crucial milestone of the VPA process in Vietnam. It is expected to improve the reputation of Vietnamese timber products in the international markets while promoting the industry’s development. However, implementation of the Decree is facing challenges due to new requirements under the VNTLAS and the VPA.
GIZ is collaborating with the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to support Vietnamese stakeholders through various capacity-building activities. From December 2020 to April 2021, GIZ and VIFOREST organised five pilot training modules on due diligence for more than 200 participants from timber enterprises and associations in key timber processing hubs, such as Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Dinh, and Nghe An. Based on the participants’ feedback, the training modules were improved and converted into this free DDS e-training course, which is accessible to anyone interested in the timber trade.
Not only for timber operators
The free online course offers an effective capacity-building solution to a wide range of timber operators and other stakeholders. Verification agencies, including forest protection departments and customs authorities, could also benefit from this course. Their active participation in enforcing the legal compliance of timber importers is an integral part of the VPA process in Vietnam.
The DDS e-training course is developed under the “Support to VPA process in Vietnam” project, which is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-financed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom.
The project is implemented by GIZ, the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) and Preferred by Nature.
Preferred by Nature's Sourcing Hub provides free information for sourcing companies on the key risks and mitigation actions for timber and other forest impact commodities, covering various aspects including harvesting, trade or transport laws for more than 60 countries.