FLEGT-licensed Indonesian Timber Products in the UK

FLEGT-licensed Indonesian Timber Products in the UK

ARTICLE · By Lucy Bedry, FLEGT Communications Executive · 31 May 2022

Timber Development took part in a roundtable discussion on FLEGT-licensed Indonesian timber products in the UK on the 29th of March 2022 with the Indonesian Ambassador to the UK, Ireland and International Maritime Organisation, a small group of UK industry representatives, Indonesian trade associations and Indonesian Ministries. 

On the 29 March 2022, Timber Development UK took part in a roundtable discussion on FLEGT-licensed Indonesian timber products in the UK.

The discussion was hosted by the Indonesian Ambassador to the UK, Ireland and the International Maritime Organisation, His Excellency Desra Percaya with a small group of nine company representatives from the UK industry, Indonesian trade associations and Indonesian Ministries. The meeting was hosted in collaboration with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and was chaired by Efeca, technical experts on forest and agricultural commodities.

The session aimed to take stock of the last few years, the challenges and opportunities that have arisen, capture lessons learned, acknowledge where the market is moving and discuss ways to capitalise on this in the coming years.

Representatives discussed how the UK market access for legally sourced Indonesian timber products can be improved, learning from the implementation and benefits of Indonesia-UK FLEGT VPA to date, and whether there is a way to market Indonesian products more effectively. SVLK – Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system – was noted as needing greater market recognition for the verification of legality and commitment to sustainability it gives.

Advantages of SVLK were outlined as improving market confidence and access to international markets, improved forest governance, reduced forest degradation and deforestation, and assurance for importers of sustainability, legality and traceability.

The meeting enabled stakeholders to explore how the inclusion of a sustainability aspect in the SVLK could be beneficial for Indonesian timber products in the UK market. In addition, it was accounted for what next steps would need to be taken by upstream and downstream supply chain actors to continue increasing the availability and use of legally sourced timber products.

Agreements at COP26 held in Glasgow in November 2021 were recognised, following an elevation in bilateral relations between the UK and Indonesia.

The Indonesian government is committed to contributing by ensuring the legality and sustainability of timber products, including by strengthening existing standards and systems. Our commitment at COP26 is sending a clear message that collaboration between Government and private sector is a must,” His Excellency Desra Percaya.

Dr Agus Justianto, Director General of Sustainable Forest Management of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, provided an update on SVLK and the state of the Indonesian forestry sector. Deforestation in Indonesia has dropped by over 75% in the past decade, whilst illegal logging has fallen by over 60% since SVLK was established.

In 2021 and presented at COP26, the scope of Indonesia’s SVLK was strengthened to cover verification and commitments to sustainability, transparency, facilitation for SMEs and processes for green procurement. This led to the development of a new SVLK logo to emphasise its sustainability credentials.

The discussion evolved to outline Indonesia’s SVLK which has brought together corrective policies and actions, implemented by a multi-stakeholder approach to drive the best solution to deliver sustainability at scale.

Three fundamental messages arose from the discussion amongst stakeholders:

Developments in demand-side policy measures are a challenge, but also a great opportunity.

Legality and sustainability are market norms globally, which are increasingly supported by legislation and market/trade requirements. The marketing of FLEGT and SVLK licences and products must reflect the movement beyond legality to include assurance of sustainability while giving reassurance of on-the-ground improvements. The development of EU and UK due diligence regulations including the “Regulation to minimise EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation”, also present great opportunities, as Indonesia with the SVLK, is already ahead of the game.

Awareness of FLEGT and SVLK throughout the supply chain is essential.

This needs to be developed to recognise the assurance that they bring to commercial buyers in retail to traders, manufacturers, and end-users. Effective marketing of a simple message is needed to achieve this.

Promotion of products themselves, rather than just their legality and sustainability status, is key to improving market access.

The quality and uniqueness of Indonesian products, such as plywood, fire doors and furniture, is an essential promotional aspect and should be communicated to customers alongside legality and sustainability assurance.

Several steps were outlined when discussing the way forward. Highlighting a few, these consisted of improved recognition and acceptance in broader market settings on an international scale, strengthening of Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) implementation to enhance communication with competent authorities, resolving licensing issues and developing and agreeing upon structures. In addition, encouragement for a harmonised policy and regulation on the demand side, development of incentives for all players and continued capacity building programs and facilitation for SMEs.

As Timber Development UK – the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) – we are bringing together organisations to create the largest, most comprehensive supply chain body in the UK, spanning from sawmill to specifier and all points in between. During the discussion, we outlined that our members see trading with Indonesia – with the green lane that FLGET licences allow – as superior to trading with almost any other tropical country.

We are keen to continue to work closely with Indonesia to develop trade relationships with the UK and communication to be understood by end-users, not just the trade. As we come to the last six months of our FLEGT communications project funded through the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (UK Government), we are looking forward to seeing how we can strengthen messages about “what is behind the label” of FLEGT/SVLK and increasing acceptance of this within procurement policies and design,” David Hopkins, Chief Executive of Timber Development UK.

“This discussion sits within a much wider conversation about people, planet, and prosperity, and bringing the interests and needs of each of these elements into alignment. Indonesia-UK bilateral relations remain strong and are important to future progress in this area. It is clear now that the way forward is through systematic and concrete actions around messaging and narrative, whilst working collaboratively to engage the rest of the market to encourage similar improved practices,” Concluding remarks from His Excellency Desra Percaya.

This text has been edited from the release of Efeca’s: Roundtable discussion on FLEGT-licensed Indonesian timber products in the UK.