Project launching workshop “Ensuring timber legality and promoting the use of legal and sustainable timber in Viet Nam”

On October 2nd, 2020, Center for Education and Development organized project planning and launching Workshop “Ensuring timber legality and promoting the use of legal and sustainable timber in Viet Nam” funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The objectives of the workshop included inviting comments and contributing ideas for the report about awareness, attitudes, and practices of purchasing and using timber and timber products of Vietnamese consumers currently and in the future; Discussing the plan and cooperation opportunities among the parties in the project activities.

There were more than 20 representatives that participated, who came from timber associations, non-governmental organizations, social organizations, implementing projects related to FLEGT/VPA, and other related agencies.

The meeting took place over 3 hours with the following agenda: Introduction of project activities, sharing the report and survey results, discussion of the project plan, and cooperation opportunities among the parties. The workshop agenda is enclosed in the report.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ms. To Kim Lien, Director of the Center for Education and Development, introduced the project’s activities, implemented activities, and the implementation plan of the upcoming project activities. Ms. Pham Thi Hai Yen then shared the survey results on awareness, attitudes, and practices of purchasing and using timber and timber products of Vietnamese consumers currently and in the future.

For details of project activities and survey results

Through meeting, we collected many comment from participants’ discussion as below:

Feedback from one of the delegates: “The survey report is very detailed. This is the first time there is a survey on legal timber usages in the country. The report shows that young people are concerned about the legal issue of timber, but the use of timber relates to older groups. So the question is whether CED will build its communication strategy targeting the young or the old? If it targets young people with good awareness like students or young people working in an organization (especially young people working in the state agencies nowadays, there is a law banning illegal use of timber), who can CED focus its communication on to maximize results with limited resources for the project?”.

Feedback from one of the delegates: “Vietnamese media are currently providing information about those who use rare and endangered timber to show their wealth. However, it is advisable to promote communication on plantation timber, which is now considered to have a lower quality than natural timber, to encourage responsible treatment of the environment, and to form a habit and a culture of using timber legally. Furthermore, there is a need to strongly promote communication directed at young people, including young journalists, in order to change attitudes and perceptions about using precious timbers. If everything is implemented as planned, CED will be going in the right direction, and the results will show in the long term”.

Feedback from one of the delegates: “The project’s goal is to change the perception of the market to be sustainable because businesses will follow the market trend instead of following the law. If you want to replace products from nature or precious timber, you will need to change consumers’ habit of using handicrafts. Current handicraft products are divided into three levels: the high-end, the middle-class, and the low-end. The high-end timber is equivalent to the first group. If you change the habit of using intricately carved products, it will reduce the need for precious timber”.

According to representatives of some business associations, the project has focused on the right target, which are young people (from 25-40). This target group is very important because they usually have the highest demand for furniture in their family. We need to apply the current rules. The first is the 80/20 rule, where we use 80% of the project’s resources to focus on the objective. The second is to apply the law of supply and demand, whereby the project should influence demand. According to the survey results, as well as information shared by some organizations, most of the respondents’ concerns are of quality and price. The project should develop a comparison table between industrial/plantation forests and natural timber. The comparison table focuses on 5 aspects: First is the law, the second is the environment and society, the third is quality (in which the emphasis on current science and technology handles all kinds of industrial and plantation timbers), 4th is convenience, and 5th is the price. Then, the project should be uploaded to the network so that consumers can compare it. When consumers have clear and transparent information, they will likely change their attitudes and perceptions regarding industrial and plantation timber products, leading to an increase in buying and using plantation timber. When demand changes, there will be an impact on supply also. Therefore, we should aim to influence the supply group by 80% to achieve the best results and reduce the cost of the design team.