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.