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Ramon A. Razal, Anna Floresca F. Firmalino, and Maria Cristina S. Guerrero
The study reviews the impacts (both positive and negative) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community as well as the opportunities that may lend themselves to the integration of social forestry stakeholders into the mainstream of the ASEAN regional economy. It was funded through the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) with support from the ASEAN Swiss Partnership for Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC). It forms part of the second phase of ASFCC’s three-year project that commenced in 2014, when the full integration of ASEAN into one community looms large on the horizon as a significant factor that will bear on regional developments in social forestry.
By 31 December 2015, it is envisioned that the ASEAN region will become one ASEAN Community that is founded on strong economic, political, and socio-cultural partnerships among the ASEAN member states (AMSs) comprising Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic (hereinafter referred to as "Lao PDR"), the Federation of Malaysia, the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), as one of its pillars alongside the Political-Security Community (APSC) and the Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), seeks to transform the region into a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy. The economic aspects of integration will entail liberalization of trade among the AMSs including measures that will eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers, enhance interconnectivity, and such other measures that will allow free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labor.DOWNLOAD PDF
The year saw 196 nations coming together and signing the Paris Climate Accord, a commitment to cut the rise in global temperatures by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases in their respective countries. While commitments are non-binding, the agreement can bring green issues into greater focus within country development plans, particularly for developing Asian countries which are directly affected by the effects of climate change.
2015 is also the year when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) came into effect. Covering over 622 million people with diverse cultures, the region translates to a market of US$ 2.6 trillion annually, although the actual impact of the AEC remains to be seen. Meanwhile, growth in Asia maintained a steady pace with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 6.1%. As the region’s second largest economy, India’s performance, together with most members of the ASEAN, helped to balance the gradual deceleration of China’s economy.
In the face of these global and regional developments, NTFP-EP through its mission, renewed its commitment to give voice to the forest communities, and catalyze their empowerment by organizing and participating in various network activities. The 3rd Madhu Duniya or Forest Honey Festival was held in late April in Cambodia and brought together the largest gathering of Asian forest honey producers, specialists and enthusiasts from Indonesia, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines to share knowledge, updates, and success stories. The 5-day event included an exhibit and field visit, as well as the launch of the Forest Harvest Collective Mark (FHCM), a joint initiative to uphold the high standards and protocols of honey harvesting.
NTFP-EP also actively participated in the World Forestry Congress held last September in Durban, South Africa througha side event which highlighted forest products, foods and fashion, and crafted the pre-congress joint statement “Building momentum for community-based forestry, and forest and farm producer organizations.” This statement contributed to the Durban Declaration 2050 which carried the message that forests are critical for the food security of the people, and that investing in both the forests and people will ultimately achieve sustainable development, mitigate climate change and address food insecurity and poverty.
The beginning of the year was a time to work on a new strategic plan for the next four years. Held in Vietnam, participants came from all the countries where the network operates. 2015 also saw a new Executive Director and Operations Director for the Asia office, and new Programme, Finance and Enterprise Coordinators for the Cambodia office. One of the founding Trustees, and former Chairperson, Ms. Snehlata Nath stepped down from the Board, and we welcomed a new member to the Board of Trustees. NTFP-EP Asia’s Executive Committee and Fundraising Committee were activated, and soon an Advisory Group will be established. NTFP-EP Philippines greeted the new year as a legally registered organization with its own board of trustees. The Indonesia and Malaysia offices, also moved to larger offices in Bogor and Miri respectively, in order to address the requirements for more strategic and spacious facilities to accommodate the growing number of staff. At the same time we also welcomed two new additions into the NTFP-EP Malaysia Board of Trustees.DOWNLOAD PDF