Lobbying for forest justice? Transnational dimensions of forest justice advocacy in the European Union’s (EU's) Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs)

01 November 2019 → 02 December 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Development studies
    • Environmental politics
    • European union politics
    • Interest group politics
forest justice
Project description

The Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) form the external leg of the Forest Legality Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, an ambitious plan to bring an end to world-wide trade in illegally logged timber. Through the VPAs, the EU negotiates with timber-producing countries on forest management reforms related to ecological and social sustainability, in return for market access for verified legal timber products. These reforms are subject to extensive multi-stakeholder dialogues. An often-heard argument in favour of the VPAs is their potential to make forests more socially just by institutionalising rights and empowering marginalised actors. More critical scholars contest these arguments by pointing to the VPAs’ inability to counter structural power imbalances. This PhD examines to what extent and how the VPAs effectively influence justice advocacy in the forest sector by researching (1) the organisation and content of justice advocacy in the VPA processes, (2) the transnational dimensions of justice advocacy in the VPA processes and (3) the influence of transnational cooperation processes on the (non-)emergence and travel of forest justice norms. This will be achieved through the in-depth case study of two VPA processes. The research will combine multiple innovative qualitative research methods, including elite interviewing and Qualitative Network Analysis (QNA).