Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

The 5th ASEAN Civil Society Organizations Forum

June 11, 2016

The ASEAN Social Foresty Network, established in 2005, strives to contribute to the goal of food security through sustainable, efficient and effective use of land, forest, water, and aquatic resources, by minimizing the risks and impacts of climate change. Since its inception, ASFN has significantly played key role in the implementation of the ASEAN Multisectoral Framework on Climate Change: Agriculture and Forestry towards Food Security (AFCC), the Strategic Plan of Actions of the ASEAN Cooperation in Forestry, and the ASEAN Blueprints for ASEAN Community Building, particularly for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), among others.

To support the ASFN in its effective contribution to ASEAN cooperation on forestry, the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership for Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) provides an umbrella program for knowledge sharing, best practice learning in social forestry and climate change mitigation and adaptation, research and policy support, livelihood development and civil society engagement.


The CSO Forum

Started in 2011 through the NGO Open Space at the 2nd ASFN Annual Conference on Social Forestry and 5th ASFN Annual Meeting held in Brunei, the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Forum was formalized in 2012 and garnered its pertinent role of being the platform and avenue of local communities, indigenous people’s organizations, and civil society organizations to distill, consolidate and elevate its important messages to the members of the ASEAN states through the ASFN.

It seeks to provide effective information, facilitate capacity and provide technical support on forest concerns in income generation to forest access and tenure, traditional ecological knowledge systems, and climate change themes such as REDD+. At present, the forum is comprised of a growing number of local communities, civil society organizations, network and membership organizations and indigenous peoples and peoples’ organizations and networks actively working in the ASEAN region on forestry issues. 


Milestones and Achievements

Since its establishment, the forum has continuously engaged the ASFN in advancing measures, strategies and recommendations promoting community forestry interests in ASEAN and in the end provided significant push and achievements. The first CSO Forum in 2012 in Cambodia, had brought together 33 CSO participants from the 8 ASEAN countries and crafted a statement entitled, CSO Proposals for Strengthening CSO Engagement with ASEAN on Social Forestry and Climate Change, focusing on measures to strengthen initiatives in social forestry and to promote concrete, inclusive mechanisms for climate change in the ASEAN region. These proposals had subsequently caught the strong support and attention of the ASEAN Senior Official on Forestry (ASOF) as well as most of the ASEAN member states during the ASFN Conference and 6th Annual Meeting. Its initiatives were sustained in 2013, where 30 CSO forum member representatives developed country roadmaps that defined priority strategic actions to move forward at the country level, the implementation of targets crafted in the CSO Proposals on the themes of (a) Community Economy and Livelihood, (b) Safeguards, (c) Governance Mechanisms, and (d) Tenure & Access Rights. As the result of these actions, the CSO Proposals have once again advanced in the 7th ASFN Meeting in Luang Prabang, evident in the adopted Strategies and Mechanisms of 4th ASFN Conference by the ASOF for ASEAN Cooperation in Forestry.

In 2014-2015, the highlight of the 3rd CSO Forum held in Sabah, Malaysia and the 4th CSO Forum in Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake Myanmar were the following:

  • Selected number of calls raised by the Forum members was again advanced in the succeeding 8th and 9th ASFN Meetings. Some of which are gradually progressing and cooperation among partners are taking place. Among these are (a) review and reform of NTFP policies in the Philippines, (b) increase in support and broader level of understanding on social forestry programs in Indonesia, (c) creation of the Sabah Social Forestry Working Group or SASOF in Malaysia
  • Development and release of the ASFN CSO working papers covering four thematic road maps agreed on by the participating organizations. These working papers were then elevated to various ASFN bodies and proved again to have yielded support from the AMS with several important proposals were adopted by the member states;
  • At the regional level, establishment of value chain programs for SF based SMEs was endorsed by the Forum in 2014 and was later on recommended by the ASFN to the ASOF, which they acknowledged on the same year; and
  • The CSOs have reviewed and scrutinize their country road maps to formulate concrete action plans covering the four core thematic areas of the Forum.
  • Tenure and Access Rights – Establish a sustained dialogue between the ASFN and CSOs with ILC (indigenous and local communities) , on progress in national policy and implementation on forest tenure and access rights issues and operationalize the ASEAN social forestry trust fund
  • Governance Mechanisms – Monitoring the achievement of national CF targets in ASEAN and a clearer definition of social forestry in protected areas/customary forest/land;
  • Safeguards – Develop the FPIC guidelines for IPs and other Forest dependent communities ensuring full and effective participation in decision making


Tenure rights and Governance 

  • The recently concluded Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2016 underscored securing of tenure and tenure rights in all of its stream discussions, recognizing the importance as well as challenges being encountered of each countries on the issue. One of the key recommendations of the event which was raised to the APFC is to strengthen local tenure and rights, and enable and invest in local institutions and capacities.
  • Governance mechanisms play as a pertinent role in securing land tenure.
  • Reiterate 2015 CSO Forum recommendations on Tenure and Governance
  • In light of the recently signed Paris Agreement, greater emphasis on tenure and governance will ensure SF’s impact and contribution to country commitments with enough financial support and favourable policy environment 

As such, that the Non Timber Forest Products-Exchange Programme Asia, through the ASEAN Social Forestry Network-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC), in partnership with the ASFN CSO Forum Regional and Thematic Working Groups, directs its focus for this year’s CSO Forum.

The general theme will focus on the The Role and Importance of Tenure and Governance Mechanisms in Securing SF Contribution to the NDC/AEC.

 Objectives of the 5th CSO Forum

 The 5th Forum aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Improve or contribute to the level of  understanding on recent forestry related policies, trends, updates, best practices and ascertain opportunities for engagement according to CSO Forum themes;
  2. Serve as platform for knowledge sharing and exchange among CSO Forum members on:
    1. Country plan milestones, progress, gaps, and responses, and the regional support needed
    2. Collaboration windows/opportunities
  3. Present and Review, the 2-year thematic action plan for milestones, developments, and challenges in its implementation and identify priority activities for the next 4 years
  4. Prepare and formulate key recommendations for endorsement to the ASFN and develop a roadmap and strategy for potential networking and advocacy opportunities at the regional (e.g. ASFN, ASOF, and AMAF), sub-national and country level

Expected Outputs

By the end of this forum, the following outputs are expected to be achieved;

  1. Country level and regional thematic action plans presented and updated
  2. Members are updated, informed on milestones and challenges of the Forum in terms of implementing targeted activities, programs
  3. Increased and enhanced knowledge of Forum members/participants on forestry related policies, updates, and specific updates on CSO Forum themes
  4. A vision and strategic plan of action for the next 4 years has been developed
  5. Forum key recommendations formulated for endorsement to the ASFN Secretariat