The ASEAN Social Forestry Network (ASFN) was established in 2005 to promote social forestry policy and practices in the region. ASFN aims 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. It has been contributing to 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).
With support from all the ASEAN Member States (AMS) as well as ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) Supporting Partner Organizations, ASFN has organized and developed various activities towards the achievement of its goal. One of its flagship activities is the annual ASFN Conference. Gradually increased from previous years, more than 250 participants from ASEAN Countries including representatives from government, civil society organizations (CSOs), dialogue partners, development partners, private sector and academic/research institutions, University Students and Lecturers, have participated in the Conference this year, and have used the conference as a platform to share thoughts, ideas and experiences on social forestry and climate change with the aim to mainstream social forestry and scale up impacts.
This year, for the 5th ASFN Conference, the Government of Malaysia hosted and co-organized the event, together with the ASFN Secretariat and ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) Implementing Partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). The Conference was organized at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia from 24-25 May 2014, and Technical Visits with two (2) Options for Participants to choose from, were held on 26 May 2014 to the Kelawat Forest Reserve, Kota Belud and Tagal Kampung Poturidong, Kiulu (Option 1), and Winokok Native Forest, Bundu Tuhan, Ranau, and Tagal Kampung Luanti Ranau (Option 2). The organization and implementation of the ASFN 5th Conference with the theme “Enhancing Livelihood and Conservation Benefits from Social Forestry towards a Green ASEAN Community” is made possible with funding support from the ASFCC. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Malaysia and the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) provide financial and in-kind support to the organization and implementation of the Conference and the ASFN 8th Annual Meeting that is held on 27-28 May 2014 at the SFD Office in Lokkawi, Kota Kinabalu.
The Dean of the International Tropical Forestry School, Dr. Normah Awang Besar, in representing the Vice-Chancellor of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), attended the Opening Ceremony of the Conference that was officially opened by Ybhg. Datuk Dr. Abdul Rahim Nik, Deputy Secretary General (Environment) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) of Malaysia. The Director of the Sabah State Forestry Department, YBhg Datuk Sam Mannan, the Chairperson of the ASEAN Social Forestry Network (ASFN), Mr. Bounsouane Phongphichith of the Department of Forestry of Lao PDR, and Mr. Patrick Sieber, Representative of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) delivered Remarks during the Opening Ceremony on 24 May 2014.
There was Presentation Ceremony of the jointly developed Permit Occupation from the Director of the Sabah State Forestry Department to the Kelawat Community represented by Forest Villagers. An Evening Reception to officially open the Knowledge Fair and publish the Situation Analysis Report by RECOFTC was held on 24 May 2014, during which Madam Wan Hasmah Wan Mohammad the ASOF & ASFN Leader Malaysia delivered the Welcome Remarks. Dr Juergen Blaser, Representative of the SDC delivered the Opening Remarks during the Welcome Dinner & Knowledge Fair Reception.
2. The Objectives of the Conference are:
The Conference has facilitated the ASEAN Member States (AMS) to:
- Share lessons and experiences on social forestry particularly with respect to climate change, community livelihoods, and sustainable forest management;
- Promote social forestry policy and practices in forest conservation;
- Strengthen dialogue and facilitate concerted action among AMS, civil society, private sector, academia and other stakeholders to enhance the roles and contributions of social forestry in addressing climate change, food security and green economic development.
- Discuss key issues and identify opportunities to enhance social forestry best practices for promoting livelihood development in rural communities and forest conservation;
- Create a common understanding among AMS and other stakeholders of key lessons and experience in addressing those issues and maximize opportunities for cooperation;
- Develop realistic social forestry related recommendations and facilitate a concerted effort among AMS, CSOs and other stakeholders to translate these recommendations into concrete actions and commitments at the national level; and
- Generate social forestry-related recommendations for regional cooperation for AMS consideration and support through higher level meetings for the future ASEAN Agriculture and Forestry Cooperation
Conference Design Principles:
- Provide opportunities for interactive discussions and dialogues;
- Facilitate active involvement of AMSs;
- Aim for realistic recommendations and proposals for actions from AMSs for a New Vision of the ASEAN Cooperation in Forestry beyond 2015 (2015-2020);
- Build upon AMS experiences with support of ASFCC organizational Partners’ expertise
3. The Expected Results/ Outputs from the Conference are:
The expected results/ outputs of this conference include:
- Review of social forestry models within the region to support local livelihood development and forest conservation;
- Sharing of key lessons learned on people’s engagement in forest management and livelihood development and their implications for fostering green economic development;
- Agreed conclusions and recommendations from the AMS and other stakeholders on how to promote and support social forestry nationally and regionally in line with the vision and strategies towards a Green ASEAN Community.
The Key Recommendations from the ASFN 5th Conference on Prioritized Strategic Actions for ASFN and ASEAN are:
- Set and monitor Social Forestry targets at national and regional levels.
- Adopt a rights-based approach to Social Forestry policy formulation, planning and implementation.
- Provide secure tenure to indigenous and other local communities (especially customary forest users, rotational agriculturalists) and access to timber resources.
- Adopt and implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Forest Tenure Reform.
- Adopt or reform national laws and regulations to simplify process of SF registration and remove barriers to SF-based SMEs.
- Establish a regional platform and mechanism for forest-related conflict resolution.
Social Forestry in Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity Conservation:
- Adopt a common methodology for climate change vulnerability assessment and make vulnerability assessments an integral part of social forestry-related national and regional plans.
Community Economy and Livelihood:
- Establish a regional process to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) over local products and knowledge (including copyright protocol, registries) consistent with UNDRIP and other international agreements.
- Include the Creative Industry (cultural products, arts) as a priority sector for ASEAN economic integration.
- Establish, develop guidelines and solicit AMS contributions for a Trust Fund for SF-based SMEs.
- Adopt Voluntary Guidelines on Private Sector engagement and human rights in line with UN Due Diligence guidelines and international agreements.
- Support marketing and consumer campaigns to promoting intra-ASEAN trade in creative/cultural economy products, while ensuring IPR and chain of custody traceability.
- Facilitate sharing of technical expertise through MoUs among centers of excellence in forest products development and research in ASEAN.
- Establish Value Chain support programs for SF-based SMEs with particular attention to:
- Capacity building – planning grants, technology transfer, professionalizing business management, peer learning amongst AMS, benefit sharing at community level.
- Reaching economically viable scale – aggregation and scaling up.
- Connectivity – matchmaking/developing market linkages / benefit sharing in the chain.
- Accessible data information bank, market analysis and intelligence.
- Developing affordable and credible certification systems and branding (local/national/ASEAN).
- Provide incentives to SF-based SMEs and communities through:
- Tax breaks/exemptions and subsidies to promote SME competitiveness (with exit strategy).
- Research and Development support for SF-based SMEs.
- Low interest loans and guarantees from banking sector.
Social Forestry and REDD+:
- Establish mechanism and develop operational guidelines for implementing social and environmental safeguards for social forestry.
- Beyond food security, promote food sovereignty.
- Strengthen institutions for social forestry through support for national level multi-stakeholder mechanisms, effective linkages and decentralization of authority to local bodies.
Publication on “Community Forestry Role in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptaion in Southeast Asia (Situation Analysis 2013)” produced by RECOFTC with inputs from the ASEAN Member States and Partner Organizations and RECOFTC Team was published during the Knowledge Fair Reception on 24 May 2014.
The Overall Programme, the detailed Programme, Administrative Arrangements, Flyer, and the List of Participants of the ASFN 5th Conference held on 24-26 May 2014 at the UMS are made available as part of the ANNEXES of the Report of the 8th ASFN Meeting held on 27-28 May 2014 at the Sabah Forestry Department Office in Lok Kawi, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.