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A busy trip in the EU of SRD’s Executive Director in June 2017

After more than six years with a series of negotiation sessions (starting from January 2010) , Vietnam and EU finally agree in principle on a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT/VPA), officially signed by the two sides in Brussels (Belgium) in May 2017. During this long tough process, civil society organizations in Vietnam, in which VNGO-FLEGT Network as a largest network with more than 61 organization members throughout Vietnam, have played an important role in the success of the negotiation outcome with meaningful engagement in order to provide inputs for the contents of VPA basing on practical experience directly working in grassroots level and field-based research. Within five years of its operation, VNGO-FLEGT Network has implemented a wide range of specific activities, including: consultations with forest planting households and enterprises regarding the related contents of the VPA; Research on potential impacts of VPA to the vulnerable community groups (forest-dependent households, local communities involved in protecting forests and small-scale timber processing businesses); Research on the adaptation capacity of small-scale enterprises and households towards VPA/FLEGT requirements; Development of baseline impact indicators and database for monitoring the implementation of the VPA later, etc.

In July 2017, Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop, SRD's Executive Director cum Chair of the VNGO-FLEGT Network, had a series of activities in EU in the role of VNGO-FLEGT Network's representative:
(1) 27th Illegal Logging Update and Stakeholder Consultation meeting from June 19-20, 2017 in Chatham House (London, UK)
(2) Conference on "Tackling illegal logging and deforestation: progress made and opportunities for future action" from June 21-23, 2017 in Brussels (Belgium)
(3) Meeting with FERN – technical and funding partner of VNGO-FLEGT Network and SRD within last five years - to discuss the cooperation plan in the coming years, focusing on the preparation and implementation of VPA in Vietnam, June 26, 2017 in Belgium
(4) Meeting with representatives of The Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission (DG Trade) to discuss about the opportunities and possibilities of VNGO-FLEGT Network and SRD in participating on the consultation process of the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), June 27, 2017 in Belgium
(5) Workshop on "Corruption Is Destroying Forests: What Can and Should the EU Do?" conducted by European Parliament on June 28, 2017 in Belgium.

During the time in Chatham House (London, UK), Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop, together with representatives of VNFOREST and private sectors from Vietnam, delivered three presentations reflecting different perspectives regarding the contents of the meeting, as well as responding various questions from international participants, in which the potential for CSOs' engagement in independent monitoring of VPA implementation in Vietnam attracted much attention. In Brussels (Belgium), Mrs. Hop and two representatives from VNFOREST actively participated in several discussion sessions, high level meetings, side events, and many other networking activities with participants from nations involving in VPA/FLEGT. Answering the interview of Chatham House's correspondent, MRS. Hop emphasized that: "We need civil society to be involved in the process". In the European Parliament, Mrs. Hop raised her viewpoint from the Vietnamese CSOs' perspectives, in which she mentioned about the importance of citizen's participation as a third-party independent monitoring mechanism in the process of VPA's implementation in Vietnam.

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Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop and representatives from Vietnam participated in the meeting in Chatham House, London, UK

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Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop delivered a presentation in Chatham House, London, UK

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The conference on "Tackling illegal logging and deforestation: progress made and opportunities for future action" from June 21-23, 2017 in Brussels (Belgium)

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Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop worked with the representatives of DG Trade in Belgium

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Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop attended the conference in European Parliament

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Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop actively networked with international participants in Belgium

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