World Rainforest Movement

Invitation to join Forest Forum to influence European Union’s aid policies and practices

What follows is a letter circulated by Fern, explaining the objectives of the EU Forest Forum and inviting interested organizations to join:

Dear friends,

As most of you know, we have been involved in monitoring and influencing EU policies in relation to forest aid and trade for the last five years. Although we have decreased our work on aid related policies in favor of trade related policies in the last two years, we now intend to work on EC (European Community) aid issues in a more structured manner, through the creation of an EC Forest Forum. This e-mail is to ask you whether you are interested in participating. It will not cost much time, will increase your knowledge about the world’s largest aid donor –after the World Bank– and, we hope, will dramatically improve the quality of EC aid. So please join!

With this EC Forest Forum we want to:

– Support NGOs and IPOs –specifically from the South and East– to present their issues, problems, solutions and ideas to EC Commission Officials and MEPs in Brussels;

– Facilitate on the ground feedback to EC Commission Officials and MEPs from people affected by EC aid policies and practices and people knowledgeable about the situation in their country;

– Provide a platform to discuss topical issues –to be decided among ourselves– between NGOs, IPOs and Commission Officials and MEPs and thereby influencing EC aid (and trade) policies.

– Provide joint NGO IPO comments to draft EC policies and practices.

There is very little information about the EU’s policies and how the EU works. We often get questions from you about EC funding possibilities; policies or problems with EC funded projects. We also often get requests from you to help organise or fund a visit to Brussels. Over the past five years we have also drafted and co-ordinated countless joint NGO comments to EC aid related policies, some of which had some impact, some of which have not. We hope that by the creation of this EC Forest Forum, together with you, we can improve all these activities and thereby have a larger impact on EC policies and practices.

What does participation mean?

– We will keep you informed about EC forest related policies and practices, briefing notes on funding possibilities etc;

– We want you to read, comment on and if possible sign on to joint NGO statements in relation to EC aid policies and practices;

– We will support you at project and policy level by getting your message to the relevant people in the EU. If possible and needed, we will support you in presenting your case to the Brussels level;

– If relevant –depending on the agenda– we want you to participate in the forum meeting. We plan to have 2 relatively small meetings a year at which Commission Officials meet with NGOs and IPOs. At these meetings topical and/or regional issues will be discussed.

Of course we will continue to provide general information and want to continue to respond as far as possible to requests for help etc, but we hope that by creating an EC Forest Forum we can jointly increase our impact on EC policies and practices. We therefore hope that many of you want to join!

Just in a few lines why EC aid is important:

– The EC spends about 9 billion Euro every year on development aid, including CEEC countries and Russia, making the EC the second largest multi-lateral donor of development co-operation;

– More than 2/3 of all grants world-wide comes from the EC;

– Numerous evaluations of EC aid, internal and external, have shown that the quality is very poor;

– There is virtually no participation of civil society in the development or implementation of EC aid policies and projects.

If you want to join us please send us an email : info@fern.org or saskia@gn.apc.org. If you have any questions please contact us at the UK or Brussels office.

Best wishes,

Saskia Ozinga, Chantal Marijnisses, Berenice Muraille