In the ongoing global effort to combat illegal logging and promote sustainable trade in forest products, the 24th meeting of the Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT) took place on July 30. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kate Konschnik of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division delivered the plenary opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of legal trade and the sustainable use of forests to address climate change and protect biodiversity. This article discusses the key points from the meeting and the initiatives presented to achieve EGILAT’s goals.
Safeguarding Recovery and Livelihoods:
As the world continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to ensure that illegal trade in forest products does not hinder the recovery process or jeopardize the livelihoods of those involved in the legal supply chain. Konschnik highlighted the need to prevent the illegal trade of forest products from funding criminal elements and perpetuating civil unrest, global security threats, and even terrorist organizations.
U.S. Initiatives in Line with EGILAT Mandate:
Konschnik shed light on various U.S. initiatives that align with EGILAT’s goals. These initiatives include the conservation of critical rainforests globally, the establishment of the Timber Interdiction Membership Board and Enforcement Resources (TIMBER) Working Group, and the expansion of efforts to combat timber trafficking.
EGILAT recognizes the significance of bilateral and regional collaborations in achieving its objectives. Cooperation among different economies is crucial in promoting the trade of legally harvested forest products while curbing illegal logging and associated trade. These collaborations play a vital role in fostering sustainable practices and safeguarding the environment.
Supporting Policy Theme: “Advancing the Trade and Distribution of Legally Harvested Forest Products: Navigating to Legal Timber”
The meeting participants discussed activities supporting this policy theme, which emphasizes the importance of legal timber trade. They engaged in field trips and workshops to gain practical insights and knowledge on identifying illegally traded timber and combating timber trafficking.
EGILAT’s Unique Role:
EGILAT, founded in 2011 by APEC, plays a unique role in promoting legal trade in forest products and fighting against illegal logging worldwide. The regional economic forum, APEC, comprising 21 members, including the U.S., aims to foster prosperity through sustainable, innovative, and secure growth. With the United States hosting APEC in 2023, EGILAT’s role gains more prominence on the global stage.
The 24th EGILAT meeting emphasized the importance of promoting legal trade and sustainable use of forests to combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and support global recovery efforts. By addressing illegal logging and associated trade, EGILAT plays a crucial role in preserving the environment, securing livelihoods, and fostering regional collaboration in the pursuit of a sustainable future for our planet.