Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

2019 Annual Report

October 8, 2020

NTFP-EP’s role at the regional level has been more emphasized this year in order to better amplify the voices of indigenous and local communities. NTFP-EP members, staff and partners deem it useful to divide their roles more appropriately and to make better use of their capacities and positions locally, nationally and beyond, to bring voices from the ground more effectively.

The Asia Pacific Forestry Commission report from their 28th session reflected in their conclusions at the close of the meeting, key messages that resonate with NTFP-EP. For example, the APFC recommended providing greater support for community forestry programmes and community enterprise development, and to continue to expand efforts to support climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. The role of promoting and valuing forest products and low carbon-emitting forest-based livelihood strategies was recognized and seen to contribute to building resilience and addressing climate change.

The ASEAN Member States in 2019 also began the mid-term review of their priorities and strategic plan of action for forestry cooperation to 2025. Enhancing forest product trade and forestry and agriculture contributing significantly to addressing climate change and achieving food security and poverty reduction come up as one of the priorities. NTFP-EP and CSO partners are monitoring this closely to ensure that this priority is pushed not at the expense of indigenous and local forest-dependent communities, instead, trade in forestry and agriculture, serves community needs and safeguards community rights.

The ASEAN Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) in which NTFP-EP is a partner, shall draw to a close after nine (9) years by February 2020. This year the partnership facilitated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder discussions in order to help set the scene of the nexus of social forestry with biodiversity, environment, climate action and food security. We maintained clear messaging that forestry for the benefit of people and future generations must hold primacy.

Member States accept the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a standard or benchmark of sustainable development. 3 out of the 6 countries where NTFP-EP works have submitted national voluntary reports on their progress towards 2030 on their contribution to the fulfillment of the SDGs. Sustaining climate action resonate among these countries, and so with inclusion, sustainability, and poverty reduction. However, Malaysia, India and Vietnam have not submitted reports.

Besides the SDGs, the road to a new global biodiversity framework and progress around the global climate action agreement are relevant to NTFP-EP’s current work and future advocacy strategies. National governments are taking positions about these and NTFP-EP with partners are putting more attention to the position and claims of achievements of their national governments. NTFP-EP and partners in networks and as part of regional alliances are demanding accountability and start to ask questions.

The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem service of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2019 further validates the state of decline of the environment and biodiversity globally. The message of this widespread decline must send alarm signals, particularly so that the drivers of this decline are mainly anthropogenic. Furthermore, the state of global human rights interlinks with the state of the environment and of biodiversity. Global Witness’ report in 2019 showed serious setbacks on human rights conditions and the state of security of environmental defenders with one of our priority countries, the Philippines, ranking second globally on the killing of environmental defenders.

It is important to note that the drivers of attacks against environmental defenders are the same drivers of resources and biodiversity decline: large scale agriculture, mining and logging – primarily related to the loss of precious forests and natural resources globally and in particular happening at alarming rates in South and Southeast Asia. NTFP-EP realizes that it must also be ready and responsive to support and protect partners against these real threats.

The example of Greta Thurnberg and the wave of youth action against climate change and demanding accountability from our governments and calls for multilateral action have been widely felt. We saw significant disruptions in 2019 – alarming messages of global level analysis and citizen, women and youth activism that provides NTFP-EP and its partners with inspiration and useful triggers to consider the strategic importance of affecting more transformative changes in policies and practice. The depth and breadth of the problems of “business as usual” will require NTFP-EP to be more innovative and consciously transformational in its interventions and strategies.