October 21, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The adoption of the Paris Agreement in 12 December 2015 created a momentum across the world for more ambition and cooperation to address climate change. At present, countries are undergoing their domestic processes for the ratification of the Paris Agreement and moving towards implementation of respective nationally determined contributions (NDCs). As a region, the greater challenge however is for ASEAN Member States to turn these contributions into public policies and investment plans for mitigation and adaptation while taking into consideration other pressing frameworks and strategies such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the ASEAN Vision on Food, Agriculture and Forests.
So far, despite the recognition of social forestry in the region, there is no systematic and coordinated process to link and include social forestry targets and goals in national climate change actions plans and NDCs of ASEAN Member States. While social forestry in the ASEAN region may take different modalities which vary from country to country, it is apt to say that “social forestry is not new to the region” and with its long history comes a list of successes, failures, and lessons, said Dr. Doris Capistrano. Global platforms such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and particularly the progressions in the ASEAN region are compelling calls “to see social forestry with a slightly different lens.”
Forester Ricardo Calderon, Director of the Forest Management Bureau, shared how the perspective of social forestry in the Philippines has changed through the years – from a transactional livelihoods-based view to one that is slowly progressing as essential to building people and forest resilience. Coming from a successful country-level workshop, the Philippines, through Forester Orlando Panganiban, puts on the regional table key learnings and recommendations made by the group. Workshop participants from Cambodia, Laos PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia also shared actual experiences from social forestry and how this is being linked to climate change agenda in their respective countries.
The participants were given the space to initiate, develop, and strengthen operational guidelines and roll into the prospective social forestry integration within bigger national climate change plans effectively. By putting together information on existing systems, best practices, and necessary capacity building and technical and tool support, the workshop aims to forward the premise of synergy in their respective countries.
Efforts have been made at the national level in integrating social forestry and other sectors to national forestry programs and/or national climate change plans and actions. To name a few, Myanmar, Philippines, and Indonesia are among the countries in the region with initial progress.
Workshop participants were presented with key portions of their INDCs and have been given a set of questions on integrating social forestry, identifying capacity needs and challenges in integrating social forestry in their identified and proposed forestry actions. A facilitated discussion among workshop participants and invited CC and forestry experts followed.
“Social forestry is a clear response to pressing concerns around the climate change issue” – in pushing for the recognition of the successes and potentials of social forestry, it is inevitable that we also push for the securing of rights on land water and forest, sustainable and resilient technologies, and the strengthening of cooperatives. However, these plans still remain at the level of aspiration. Key issues relating to land tenure and meaningful participation have been around for many years already, and yet the situation hasn’t changed that much. Now that the opportunity to push the opportunity has presented itself to the region, we need more ways to ensure that they get into the agenda.