Friday, 5 December 2008 1:26 PM

Environmental NGO's push for better deal

Allow me space to highlight an old issue, that is still very important today.

Our country stands as one of those within the region who might benefit from the current Legislative Proposal from the EU Commission for EU market rules on illegal harvested timber and timber products.

This is because regional environment and non- governmental organizations along with Greenpeace are currently putting pressure on the European Union to re-view the current proposals drafted for the legislation.

The Papua New Guinea Eco- Forestry Forum (PNG-EFF) is one of the groups heavily involved in this effort to redefine many of the deficiencies discovered in these proposals.

In a written statement to members of the EU- ACP parliament, PNG-EFF noted that the current proposed legislations do not address many of the major environmental issues as well as the indigenous people's rights, currently faced by all ACP member countries.

One of them is on the legislations made on current restrictive measures to be carried out on the legality of importation, selling and possession of illegal timber products by operators.

Environmental groups and NGO's have been concerned about the current rate and state of illegal and unsustainable logging activities taking place in the region.

Under the new legislation, these groups have opted that there should be an inclusion of a regulatory body or authority established by the EU, that will have the powers to control timber products, investigate crime and alleged infringements, and prosecute offenders.

In their meeting with ACP- EU Parliamentary representatives last week, international environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Pacific Network on Globalization along with PNG-EFF highlighted that these entities should be established, and governments of ACP countries made accountable to up-hold whatever legislation that is passed, in order to protect the forest resources and logging industry of the region.

They called on for good governance and transparency at the government level as a basis for the successful implementation on all their (stated) requirements.

Solomon Islands which earns about a quarter of its government revenue through export taxes levied upon logs exported overseas, might be caught in the middle.

The government has been noted for allowing logging concessions that have been criticized by environmental groups and non- governmental organizations in the past.

With her foremost obligation centered now on enhancing the developmental progress of the nation, her commitment towards sustainable development on environmental resources, might come under scrutiny as the Solomon Islands government is expected to make a stand.

Nevertheless, the proposals put forward by these groups aim to unite the region and to highlight the importance of looking after and managing forest resources.

But more importantly, to push for better deals under the current Economic Partnership Agreement's with EU, in order to negotiate better opportunities for greater economic and sustainable development in the region.

I just hope our current government and responsible authorities are on the same platform as with our regional allies, who are very vocal about the issue.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Uriel Matanani and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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