On July 30, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kate Konschnik of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division made the plenary opening remarks for the 24th meeting of the Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT). EGILAT focuses on promoting trade in legally harvested forest products and combatting illegal logging and associated trade.
In her remarks, Konschnik emphasized the promotion of legal trade and sustainable use of forests to combat climate change and protect biodiversity, and to prevent the illegal trade of forest products from contributing to other issues.
“As the Asia-Pacific region and the world continue to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is ever more important to ensure that the illegal trade of forest products does not undermine this recovery, nor threaten the livelihoods of those participating in the legal supply chain,” Konschnik said. “We must recommit to ensuring the global forest products market does not become a financial playground to criminal elements who use illegally harvested forest products to drive other transnational crimes, perpetuate civil unrest, threaten global security, and fund terrorist organizations.”
Konschnik discussed U.S. initiatives consistent with the EGILAT mandate, including efforts to conserve critical rainforests around the world, the creation of the Timber Interdiction Membership Board and Enforcement Resources (TIMBER) Working Group and expanding efforts to tackle timber trafficking. She closed by emphasizing the importance of bilateral and regional collaborations in achieving EGILAT’s goal and highlighting the unique place EGILAT has in the global effort to promote the trade of legally harvested forest products and combat illegal logging and associated trade.
As part of the broader EGILAT meeting, the economies discussed activities in support of the policy theme “Advancing the Trade and Distribution of Legally Harvested Forest Products: Navigating to Legal Timber.” Members had opportunities to participate in field trips, including one to view the National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Mobile Lab, which can identify illegally traded timber from endangered species. EGILAT also planned to host a technology workshop with members joining six other work groups in a half-day meeting on Policy Partnership on Food Security.
EGILAT was created in 2011 by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is a regional economic forum of 21 members, including the U.S. APEC was established in 1989 with the aim to promote prosperity in the region through sustainable, innovative, and secure growth. The United States is the 2023 host of APEC.