Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG)
Field Legality Advisory Group
The Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG) is a new non-governmental organisation, based in Cameroon, started up by a group of Cameroonians who have been supporting independent forest monitoring work in the Congo Basin for the past 10 years. The founders all formerly worked with Resource Extraction Monitoring, an international organisation that stopped activities in the Congo Basin in June 2013. FLAG was established in 2012 as a result of a long term strategy implemented by REM to handover Independent Monitoring projects to civil society organisations in the region.
The overall vision of FLAG is to see an African society in which the principles of good governance are applied to the management of forest resources. Its particular purpose over the next three years is aimed at promoting the respect of legal frameworks and transparency, in particular in the Congo Basin. Its main objective around legality is to ensure that the laws that relate to forest management are understood and analysed, and that their application is observed by all actors in the forestry sector. In terms of the objective around transparency, FLAG aims to ensure that information relevant to forest management is centralised, analysed and shared in relevant formats with different actors involved in the forestry sector, at the national and regional levels.
As FLAG establishes itself in the region, the bulk of its work will be focused on providing technical, legal and practical support to national-level civil society organisations that are doing independent monitoring of forest management: this can be either ‘external monitoring,’ or formal independent monitoring processes linked to Voluntary Partnership Agreements in certain countries. FLAG will also function as a coordinating mechanism – to collect information coming out of monitoring projects in the various countries, and then to collate and analyse this information to pull out trends and to produce reports for various audiences. This will be done to improve on information exchange, learning and strategising at a sub-regional level.
The members of the core team who are setting up FLAG are technical and legal experts who have a lot of experience managing projects, overseeing teams, and participating in multi-stakeholder dialogues around forest governance. However, none of them have previously started up a new organisation. Their current internal priority is therefore to put in place the systems and structures necessary to get the organisation up and running, as well as to secure funding for work planned to take place in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
In mid-2012, FLAG started working with Well Grounded to get some support around its organisational set-up and strategy. To date, this collaboration has involved providing support to the founders of FLAG to reflect on and define their priorities for the development of the organisation from a holistic perspective. The first step has been to facilitate a strategic planning process to help clarify their vision, mission, values, global objectives and added value. We have also been supporting fundraising efforts by linking FLAG with potential donors and providing feedback on proposals and budgets.