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Session 8a: Civil society perspectives on the future

Mitigating the corruption factor in the AsiaĖPacific region

Lisa Ann Elges1

Degradation of the world's forest resources is one of the most pressing human development challenges facing the planet today. Forest degradation impacts the daily life of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Increasing insecurity of access to forest goods and services impacts the poorest most severely because they rely on such goods and services for their subsistence. Forest degradation also has catastrophic consequences for ecosystems, given that forests are major reservoirs of biological diversity, regulators of the hydrological cycle and storers of carbon.

One of the most important underlying causes of forest degradation is corruption. There are two major consequences of such corruption: (1) It facilitates the illegal extraction, movement and trade in wood and wood products; and (2) it diverts national revenues from both legal and illegally procured wood and wood products from national economies.

Forest-related corruption has many manifestations, ranging from fraudulent logging concessions, to log smuggling and illegal logging, to the laundering of illicit proceeds, fraud, tax evasion and illegal trade. Yet, in a search for global sustainability, corruption remains one of the hardest challenges to address. Researchers and reformers at all levels — national and international, official and non-governmental, public and private — see their efforts to tackle corruption frustrated by lack of political will and lack of information, as well as lack of common methodologies, appropriate analysis tools and concerted action. Combating forest corruption thus urgently requires multiple strategies, multiple stakeholders and multilevel action in order to be successful in the short and long term.

This paper seeks to show the extent to which corruption has impacted forests through facilitating illegal extraction, movement and trade of timber in Asia and the Pacific. An overview of the problem and correlation between corruption and illegal forestry activities is presented. Case studies exemplify how corruption functions. Analysis is provided on why and how corruption persists despite national and regional efforts to desist from illegal logging through legal and punitive means. The paper then questions the future of forests in Asia and the Pacific should the current levels of corruption persist within the region and suggests some remedies to effectively curb corruption in forestry.

Keywords: Asia and the Pacific, corruption, forest law, anticorruption instruments

Context 1: corruption and deforestation

General overview

The future state of forests in Asia and the Pacific will have an impact on global climate change, biodiversity, economic development and trade, human rights, poverty alleviation, timber and wood product industries and consumerism.

In 2005, forest cover in Asia and the Pacific was 30 percent of the total land area. Globally, the region accounts for 18.6 percent of the world's forests (FAO, FRA 2005). Drawing from global deforestation estimates, forest cover has decreased between 30 to 40 percent over the past 50 years (Candell 2002; Sundquist 2007). In Asia and the Pacific, the deforestation rates are similar. In Indonesia, total forest cover has fallen from 162 million hectares to 98 million (Larsen 2007; Barber et al. 2002).

Illegal logging and other illicit forest activities (land clearing, forest degradation) contribute to the high rates of deforestation. Exactly what percentage of total deforestation in the Asia–Pacific region is illegal is difficult to assess given the lack of reliable and consolidated data.2 Some reports suggest that in Indonesia and Lao PDR, approximately 20 percent of deforestation results from illegal logging per se. The figures are likely to be much higher given different interpretations of what constitutes "legal" and "illegal" deforestation. Compounded by corruption, which facilitates and is facilitated by illegal forest activities, the ambit of legality often expands and contracts when public authorities exercise wide discretion and when institutional governance, transparency and accountability are weak.

When considering the potential loss of more natural forests in the Asia–Pacific region as a key indicator of what the forests in the region will look like in 2020, it is essential to examine the impacts on deforestation by illegal logging and illegal forest activities as perpetuated by corruption. Assuming that, for example, all illegal logging and illegal forest activities are facilitated by corruption, corruption itself induces deforestation beyond permissible norms. Assuming that 80 percent of natural forest deforestation is illegal and that deforestation rates continue at the rate experienced between 2000 and 2005 in Southeast Asia, then 2.4 percent of natural forests will be lost by 2020, solely due to illegal and corrupt practices.

Years Forest cover, end of period(ha) Average annual loss(ha) Average annual loss(%)
1980–1990 323 156 000 -4 390 000 -1.20%
1990–2000 297 380 000 -2 577 600 -0.80%
2000–2005 283 127 000 -2 850 600 -0.96%

Addressing corruption in forestry is an integral determinant to the future of forests in the Asia–Pacific region. Measures to reduce corruption in forestry and influence bodies outside the forest sector seek to ensure sustainable forest management and forest governance in the region. Making serious efforts to mitigate corruption and promote transparency and accountability in the forest sector will accrue numerous national and regional benefits to governments, the general public, the environment and business and trade.

This paper discusses the links between the plights of corruption and deforestation across Asia and the Pacific and examines why integrating measures to promote anticorruption, transparency and accountability are key to advancing forest management, law compliance and governance. The paper then addresses ways to tackle weaknesses in governance and corruption, which directly and indirectly influence illegal forest activities in national and transnational contexts. These methods include comprehensive systems and stakeholder analyses, action-based research and preventative measures and deterrents as remedies or strategies. The latter are presented in terms of for whom, by whom, where and by what means the remedies are to be implemented. Here anticorruption instruments relevant to Asia and the Pacific are introduced as viable tools. Multistakeholder and coalition-building processes and active, informed citizen participation are argued to be important elements of an effective anticorruption forest governance strategy. The paper concludes by suggesting some ways which Transparency International (TI) can help to support ongoing initiatives to promote improved sustainable forest management, law compliance and governance, through targeted anticorruption advocacy strategies.

Links between deforestation and corruption

Table 1 shows estimates of forest and primary forest cover and percentages of respective losses between 1990 and 2005 in Asia–Pacific countries. The only marked exception is China, where a massive reforestation programme has led to the increase of plantation forests across the country.

Table 1. Estimates of forest and primary forest cover and percentages of respective losses between 1990 and 2005 in Asia–Pacific countries

Total land area

Total forest cover 2005

Primary forest cover 2005

Total deforestation 1990-2005

Loss of primary forest 1990-2005

%of

%of

%of 1990

% of 1990

Country

(1 000 ha)

(1 000 ha)

total land

(1 000 ha)

total land

forest cover

primary forest cover

Australia

768 230

163 678

21.3

5 233

0.6

-2.5

0

Bangladesh

14 400

871

6.7

-

n/a

-1.2

n/a

Bhutan

4 700

3 195

68

413

8.8

5.3

0

Brunei Darussalan

577

278

52.8

278

48.2

-11.2

-11.2

Cambodia

18 104

10 447

59.2

322

1.8

-19.3

-58.0

China

932 742

197 290

21.2

11 632

1.2

20

0

India

328 726

67 701

22.8

-

n/a

5.9

n/a

Indonesia

190 457

88 495

48.8

48 702

25.6

-24.1

-30.8

Japan

36 450

24 868

68.2

4 591

12.6

-0.3

22

Lao PDR

23 680

16 142

69.9

1 490

6.3

-6.8

0

Malaysia

32 975

20 890

63.6

3 820

11.6

-6.6

0

Maldives

30

1

3

-

n/a

0.0

n/a

Myanmar

67 658

32 222

49

-

n/a

-17.8

n/a

Nepal

14 718

3 636

25.4

349

2.4

-24.5

-10.7

Pakistan

79 610

1 902

2.5

-

n/a

-24.7

n/a

New Zealand

26 799

8 309

31

3 506

13

7.6

0

PNG

45 286

29 437

65

25 211

56

-6.6

-13

Philippines

30 000

7 162

24

829

2.8

-32.3

0.0

Samoa

283

171

60.4

31

Singapore

68

2

3.4

2

2.9

0.0

0.0

Sri Lanka

6 561

1 933

29.9

167

2.5

-17.7

-35.0

Solomon Islands

2 799

2 172

77.6

n/a

n/a

-21.5

n/a

Republic of Korea

9 873

6 265

63.5

n/a

n/a

-1.6

n/a

Thailand

51 312

14 520

28.4

6 451

12.6

-9.1

0.0

Timor-Leste

1 487

798

53.7

n/a -

n/a

-17.4

n/a

Vanuatu

1 219

440

36.1

n/a

n/a

0

n/a

Viet Nam

33 169

12 931

39.7

85

0.3

38.1

-77.9

Significant losses to primary forests and high rates of deforestation.
Overall lower rates of deforestation but remain critical given the ratio of forest coverage to total land area.
Source: FAO, FRA (2005).

Table 2 shows perceived levels of corruption in these countries based on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of TI. With the exception of Malaysia, almost all countries with high rates of deforestation are also perceived to have high levels of corruption. Most of the countries score 3.3 or below indicating corruption is endemic throughout government institutions. Viewing corruption scores over time, positive changes have occurred with respect to China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan. All of these countries except Malaysia have ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. The table likewise shows the perception that corruption has worsened in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Philippines and Thailand and that little or no change has occurred in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

Table 2. Perceived levels of corruption in Asia and the Pacific

Regional

CPI

2005

2000

Country rank

country rank

Country /territory

score 2007

Confidence intervals

Surveys used

Score 2006

CPI sore

CPI core

1

1

New Zealand

9.4

9.2-9.6

6

9.6

9.6

9.1

4

2

Singapore

9.3

9.0-9.5

9

9.4

9.4

9.4

11

3

Australia

8.6

8.1-9.0

8

8.7

8.8

8.3

14

4

Hong Kong S.A.R.

8.3

7.6-8.8

8

8.3

8.3

7.7

17

5

Japan

7.5

7.1-8.0

8

7.6

7.3

6.4

34

6

Macao

5.7

4.7-6.4

4

6.6

n/a

n/a

34

6

Taiwan, Province of China

5.7

5.4-6.1

9

5.9

5.9

5.5

43

8

Malaysia

5.1

4.5-5.7

9

5

5.1

4.8

43

8

Republic of Korea

5.1

4.7-5.5

9

5.1

5

4.0

46

10

Bhutan

5

4.1-5.7

5

6

n/a

n/a

57

11

Samoa

4.5

3.4-5.5

3

n/a

n/a

n/a

72

12

China

3.5

3.0-4.2

9

3.3

3.2

3.1

72

12

India

3.5

3.3-3.7

10

3.3

2.9

2.8

84

14

Maldives

3.3

2.3-4.3

4

n/a

n/a

n/a

84

14

Kiribati

3.3

2.4-3.9

3

n/a

n/a

n/a

84

14

Thailand

3.3

2.9-3.7

9

3.6

3.8

3.2

94

17

Sri Lanka

3.2

2.9-3.5

7

3.1

3.2

n/a

98

18

Vanuatu

3.1

2.4-3.7

3

n/a

n/a

n/a

111

19

Solomon Islands

2.8

2.4-3.1

3

n/a

n/a

n/a

123

20

Viet Nam

2.6

2.4-2.9

9

2.6

2.6

2.5

123

20

Timor-Leste

2.6

2.5-2.6

3

2.6

n/a

n/a

131

22

Nepal

2.5

2.3-2.7

7

2.5

2.5

n/a

131

22

Philippines

2.5

2.3-2.7

9

2.5

2.5

2.8

138

24

Pakistan

2.4

2-2.8

7

2.2

2.1

n/a

143

25

Indonesia

2.3

2.1-2.4

11

2.4

2.2

1.7

162

26

Bangladesh

2

1.8-2.3

7

2

1.7

n/a

162

26

PNG

2

1.7-2.3

6

2.4

2.3

n/a

162

26

Cambodia

2

1.8-2.1

7

2.1

2.3

n/a

168

29

Lao PDR

1.9

1.7-2.2

6

2.6

3.3

n/a

172

30

Afghanistan

1.8

1.4-2.0

4

n/a

n/a

n/a

175

31

Tonga

1.7

1.5-1.8

3

n/a

n/a

n/a

179

32

Myanmar

1.4

1.1-1.7

4

1.9

1.8

n/a

Significant losses to primary forests and high rates of deforestation.
Overall lower rates of deforestation but remain critical given the ratio of forest coverage to total land area.

The 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) also provides further data to assess national environmental performance.3 The following charts were formulated by extracting raw ESI data for environmental governance and graft in Asia–Pacific countries. Chart 1 on graft levels illustrates that countries with negative values are similar to those with low scores on the TI CPI.

Chart 2 shows the overall estimate of environmental governance based on 12 indicators.4 From these charts, it can be seen that there is little discrepancy between corruption measures and overall environmental governance ratings. China's performance appears less satisfactory in relation to other countries in comparison to the TI CPI, perhaps because perceived levels of corruption within China were measured. TI's Briber Payer's Index of 2006 shows conversely the perceived levels of Chinese businesses to bribe overseas. In this index, China ranks 29 out of 30 major exporting countries worldwide.5

Context 2: integrating anticorruption in forest management and governance strategies

Sustainable forest management

Globally, promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) has been a development issue for the past 30 years. Progress in this area has been achieved. Case studies and reports demonstrate SFM successes at local community and national levels. The degree to which SFM has been integrated institutionally across countries in Asia and the Pacific, however, is limited. Chart 3 shows the percentage of forest cover certified for SFM. New Zealand is by far ahead of other countries in certification. Japan, Australia and Sri Lanka have made advances while in Indonesia and the Philippines, there are at least some efforts toward certification. Overall, however, most countries have not certified forests for SFM. The question is to what degree have SFM efforts been frustrated by corruption? While this requires serious study, predominant problems of state capture and corruption in land reforms and in forest concessions/licensing are likely to have impeded SFM successes in a number of areas and to varying degrees.

Forest law compliance and governance

Efforts to promote forest law compliance and more specifically forest governance took shape most concretely following the East Asia Ministerial meeting in 2001 that culminated in the Bali Declaration. The Declaration articulates political commitments to carry out a broad action plan to, inter alia, "intensify national efforts, and to strengthen bilateral, regional and multilateral collaboration to address violations of forest law and forest crime, in particular illegal logging, associated illegal trade and corruption, and their negative effects on the rule of law." It serves as a launching platform for the East Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (EA FLEG) process and as a grounding forum for the EU FLEG and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. In 2006, ASEAN agreed to become the "institutional base" of the EA FLEG and will serve as a repository of voluntary FLEG country reports.

Aside from the EA FLEG process and the developing FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia, other initiatives to promote forest law compliance and governance in the region have also transpired. Bilateral agreements among some countries have been concluded. International organizations such as the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and FAO have made enormous contributions by gathering statistics and information on forest-related issues, developing tools and guidelines for compliance and governance, promoting dialogues and political commitments, raising awareness and developing international standards. NGOs and other civil society-based groups and institutions have likewise increased public awareness and knowledge/research about forest issues.

Combating corruption as a primary facilitator of illegal forest activities, forest crimes and illegal logging, has not been articulated as a strategic priority or programme goal of the institutions, organizations or even governments leading the forest governance, forest law compliance and SFM initiatives in Asia and the Pacific — despite the groundbreaking first provision of the Bali Declaration. The reasons why corruption has been omitted from the agenda can only be speculated.6 What remains clear, however, is that anticorruption efforts and measures to promote greater transparency and accountability of forest actors are essential to a forest law compliance and governance strategy that is to secure the future of forests in Asia and the Pacific.

This sentiment is reflected in some recent milestones. In April 2007, The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice passed Resolution 16/1 on International cooperation in preventing and combating illicit international trafficking in forest products, including timber, wildlife and other forest biological resources for the attention of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The resolution:

Para 2

Strongly encourages Member States to cooperate at bilateral, regional and international levels to prevent, combat and eradicate such illicit international trafficking in forest products, including timber, … through the use of international legal instruments such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the United Nations Convention against Corruption;

Para 3

Encourages Member States to provide information to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regarding their use of the UNTOC and the UNCAC for those purposes and to share that information with interested Member States with a view to identifying the areas and scope of such cooperation;

Para 5

Requests the secretariats of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the United Nations Forum on Forests to exchange relevant information on matters related to forest law enforcement and governance and explore ways, as appropriate, to increase synergies.

Recently, in September 2007, at a multistakeholder regional meeting on Forest Law Compliance and Governance in Asia and the Pacific, a general consensus was achieved that corruption within and outside the forest sector was an obstacle to achieving good forest management and governance. The meeting's Declaration pronounces specific action points to strengthen knowledge and information, institutional capacities and forest laws and policies. In each area, corruption was addressed.

Action: how can corruption be addressed to promote better forest law compliance, governance and management?

Systems' and stakeholder analyses

Over the years, increasing evidence and empirical data from case studies and statistics have revealed how corrupt practices facilitate illegal activities leading to deforestation. Still, a clear analysis of how corruption operates within the forest sector and on influencing bodies outside the sector is lacking. Most of the information relies on intuitive understandings and practical knowledge of how corruption operates in relation to forestry. Competent and effective anticorruption strategies should rely on a systemic understanding of corruption in forestry and incorporate as far as possible a systemic approach to promoting anticorruption, accountability, transparency and good governance in the field.

Such an analysis should map out national, regional and global systems in terms of how corruption occurs, by whom, at what points, to what degree and what social-, environmental-, economic-and governance-related impacts are involved. The analysis should examine actors, institutions, regulatory frameworks, processes and activities.

Existing information, studies and data should be drawn upon and consolidated to form the systems' and stakeholder analyses. The World Bank, FAO and ITTO have done considerable work in this and related areas.

Action research to address the urgency of forest issues

While a systems' analysis and thorough stakeholder analysis are critical to formulating an effective anticorruption strategy for the forest sector, such analyses often take considerable time, depending on available resources, capacities and stakeholder inputs. Through active research and as sufficient information becomes available, targeted activities to address specific problems of corruption in forestry can be envisaged.

In July 2007, TI hosted an open Forestry and Corruption Programme Development Workshop. There were representatives from prominent international organizations and NGOs working on forestry (governance, illegal logging and illegal forest activities) as well as from government agencies, the private sector and donor organizations. The participants shared input in:

The workshop participants identified six critical areas where anticorruption, transparency and accountability measures would be required urgently. These are:

Again, a substantial amount of problem–solution research and analysis of these issue areas, information, knowledge and data should be consolidated as an integral component of active research.

Remedies: preventative measures and deterrents

To develop remedies to prevent and deter corruption in forestry, in particular to address the "problem areas" suggested above, the following variables should be considered:

For whom and by whom are the remedies to be implemented?

In principle, remedies should be formed through multistakeholder processes. The remedies should be designed in part for whom they are intended to assist or "reform". This means involving stakeholders from both anticorruption- and forest management-, law- and governance-related sectors.

Remedies should also be considered as influencing changes within systems. It is important to maintain an overview of how remedies are affecting the system operating within and outside the forest sector, which affect forest law compliance and governance generally.

At present, anticorruption and forest management/governance stakeholders, as discussed hereunder, are working to promote improved governance and law compliance in various ways through numerous projects and programmes. A coordinated effort, as far as possible, is desirable to increase overall results and avoid duplication. Stakeholders having similar goals and objectives and seeing themselves as part of a system seeking systemic changes, should strive to form partnerships, alliances or other cooperative arrangements.

States–governments–timber export countries: States are responsible, inter alia, for protecting, conserving, managing and governing their forests. States are also responsible for preventing, deterring, penalizing and punishing corruption. Such responsibilities derive from municipal laws and treaty obligations. Both responsibilities vary according to the domestic laws and policies of each state. Responsible state bodies include executive agencies, parliaments, law enforcement agencies and courts, forest and customs authorities, state-owned logging companies, national forest certification agencies and others. Insofar as corruption is also to be addressed, this also includes anticorruption agencies and responsible state institutions.

Applying state responsibility, however, can be challenging given the sometimes limited institutional capacity of states to implement, enforce and adjudicate laws. It can also run into problems when responsibilities are legally held by other entities such as in the case of non-state forest ownership and use. While most forests are under ownership of the states, there are some divergences as seen in Chart 4 below. In PNG, for example, 97 percent of forests are under customary landownership. These differences need to be taken into account.

A significant proportion of forests in Asia and the Pacific is under concession or has been licensed to the private sector. In each country, how much land is under concession or licence to whom and what legal agreements are in place, need to be understood in order to clarify responsibility and liability regarding land and forest uses.

States–governments–timber import countries: Governments in timber-importing countries have an important role to play in developing and implementing remedies. They are likewise responsible for ensuring compliance to domestic laws and regulations and treaty obligations. In particular, this entails or should entail responsibility for importing timber and wood products that are legal and from sustainable forest production. This also entails responsibility for the overseas activities of corporations having legal identification within their territories. In many cases, corporations based in importing countries maintain business enterprises in timber-exporting countries. The extent and scope of state responsibilities again depends on the national laws and regulations of the importing countries.

Political parties and political candidates: Political interests play a key role in shaping anticorruption and forest governance laws and policies. Perceiving that state capture is a real problem in some countries, political parties and political candidates need to be involved in developing remedies.

The private sector: Involving the private sector in remedies to promote improved forest management, governance and law compliance is essential. Multinational corporations operating out of demand countries, other investors, international (and even local) logging companies and forest certification ventures may be drivers of significant change. In most cases, invoking the Corporate Social Responsibility of private sector entities is one longer term approach. Legal responsibility is the obvious other form. Corporate compliance to forest laws in the country of operation is desirable, when the laws are enforced according to the rule of law. This condition has limitations. Should forest laws have transnational jurisdiction, the probability for legal compliance would likely increase.

At present, private sector compliance to anticorruption legislation is a viable option for ensuring corporate promotion of good forest management and governance. Most multinational corporations and foreign enterprises have legal personality in states where jurisdiction over acts of corruption extends to overseas operations (extraterritorial jurisdiction). International and regional legal and regulatory frameworks to support mutual legal assistance, law enforcement and adjudication are discussed hereunder. Through these mechanisms, the weight of legal responsibility and rate of compliance are more likely to increase and encourage non-corrupt business behaviour.

Financial institutions: Banks and lending institutions have responsibilities to practise due diligence in granting loans or performing large remittances for suspicious clients. Their roles in contributing to the development and implementation of remedies to promote forest governance and anticorruption and law compliance are likewise significant.

Local forest and indigenous communities: Local forest and indigenous communities play an important role in determining and implementing good forest management, governance and anticorruption law compliance. Their roles, interests and stakes in these processes need to be carefully considered and discussed through their involvement and the assistance of specialized organizations working to support their situations.

Civil society, international organizations and donors: While the roles of civil society, international organizations and donors vary, those working towards improved sustainable forest management and forest law compliance and governance do so through operable and effective approaches including coalition building and multistakeholder consultation processes.

Civil society generally includes local and international NGOs, indigenous groups, churches, media, the academe and research institutions. Civil society is an important constituency in advocating for changes and monitoring progress. Depending on the country, however, civil society operates in diverse political/governance environments. Chart 5 uses data from ESI 2005 to show the degree to which civil liberties are respected in selected countries in Asia and the Pacific, with 1 being the highest/best rating. It also shows the scores estimating the rule of law where positive values indicate greater respect and negative values indicate less. This understanding should be reflected in advocacy strategies.

Where, internationally, regionally, or nationally, and if so, in which countries, are remedies to be introduced, developed and/or implemented?

To promote anticorruption, transparency and accountability as a means to support improved forest management, law compliance and governance, it is necessary to focus on countries where deforestation and corruption occur most frequently and where both have the most critical impacts. Countries with serious deforestation problems are also perceived to be endemically corrupt. Remedies should be focused here to address the supply/production side of the problem.

At the same time, dealing with the demand side of the problem and the phenomenon of illegal trade of timber involves a different set of countries with some overlaps. Many studies have shown the complicity of importing countries in trafficking and laundering of timber. An overview of the timber trade including detailed information on volumes and types of imports/exports and respective import/export laws and regulations can help inform the degree and forms of anticorruption interventions. The following map by Global Timber illustrates the likely trade routes, origins and destinations of suspicious timber and wood product imports/exports using China as an example. A regional mapping of each country's timber-trading activities can help strengthen regional and national forest governance/anticorruption strategies.

What remedies would be appropriate and effective given the understandings generated by the aforementioned questions?

Anticorruption strategies to support improved forest management, law compliance and governance need to be developed to address the relevant weaknesses in governance and particular areas where corruption is problematic.

Earlier, some predominant areas were identified such as: state capture & bribery of foreign public officials, land reforms, forest licensing & concessions, timber laundering (corruption in certification, import and export processes), judicial integrity, unsustainable demand for wood derivatives and policies and practices of lending and transferring institutions. For each of these corruption-prone areas, specific anticorruption strategies/remedies can be developed to address the particular occurrences in each national or bi-/multilateral situation. They should involve internal and external awareness raising, capacity building, reporting, monitoring and benchmarking activities according to widely accepted norms and standards of accountability, transparency and good governance. Such activities can be supported by: (1) anticorruption instruments and standards; (2) multistakeholder/coalition-building processes; and (3) active, informed citizen participation.

Anticorruption instruments and standards

International and regional anticorruption instruments and standards for public and private sectors and civil society can be utilized to assist the anticorruption strategies to promote improved forest management, law compliance and governance. They can be used to supplement or complement existing international, regional, legal or regulatory frameworks to promote SFM and forest governance. Many of the forerunning anticorruption instruments deal specifically with instances of licensing, procurement, financial management, law enforcement and judicial integrity. They address corruption in terms of domestic and foreign bribery, influence peddling, embezzlement, public sector conflicts of interest and money laundering. A synopsis of the applicable anticorruption instruments that can be used as a set of standards for improved governance, transparency and accountability and as a basis for monitoring compliance and progress by all stakeholders is given hereunder.

UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)7

The UNCAC is a comprehensive, global agreement adopted in 2003; it entered into force in 2005. To date, 140 countries have signed the convention and 96 have ratified including Australia, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, PNG, the Philippines and Sri Lanka in Asia and the Pacific. The convention requires that states take preventative measures to ensure public and private sector integrity including through the adoption of codes of conduct, transparency and accountable financial practices. It recognizes the role of civil society as well as the importance of access to information. UNCAC criminalizes bribery, embezzlement and money laundering. Likewise, international cooperation in law enforcement, asset recovery, technical assistance and reporting and monitoring mechanisms are provided for in the convention. These provisions in particular set up a regulatory framework by which all States Parties are obliged to work together to prevent, prosecute and adjudicate crimes of corruption, and in particular when they occur transnationally. The framework is useful in application to corruption that facilitates forest crimes and illegal forest activities including illegal logging and trade in timber. In application to some specific problems related to forest governance, UNCAC Article 12, for example, calls for measures for "Preventing misuse of procedures regulating private entities including procedures regarding subsidies and licences granted by public authorities for commercial activities".

OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions8

The OECD antibribery convention criminalizes specifically the bribery of foreign public officials including acts of intermediaries. It is a legally binding international treaty with 37 States Parties that include Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand, 26 countries in Europe, three in the Americas and one in Africa. While the UNCAC also criminalizes foreign bribery, the OECD antibribery convention is useful in that it has been in force for almost ten years, has an established monitoring framework and includes important States Parties such as Japan and Republic of Korea which have not yet ratified the UNCAC. The convention can be applied specifically to the problem of state capture and foreign bribery that impede forest law compliance and governance. The convention's review mechanisms involve multistakeholder processes, where the views of the private sector and civil society are also taken into account.

OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises9

The OECD guidelines follow from the 1976 Declaration by the Governments of OECD member countries on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. The guidelines, revised in 2000 under the rubric of international investment, are a non-binding but an important set of recommendations to multinational enterprises10 regarding "business ethics, including employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, combating bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition, and taxation." Many of the provisions can be used to strengthen SFM and forest law compliance and governance as well as to reduce influences of corruption obstructing the former. Adhering governments have committed to promoting them among multinational enterprises operating in or from their territories.

The guidelines include implementation mechanisms nationally, through National Contact Points (NCPs), operating out of government offices "charged with promoting the Guidelines and handling enquiries in the national context" and internationally through the Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises (CIME). Both mechanisms provide for multistakeholder processes where operational, advisory and service roles allow for representation and participation of civil society and private sector actors.

ADB OECD Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific11

The Anti-Corruption Action Plan (ACAP) was agreed in 2000 to reflect the commitment of governments across the region to combat corruption through:

Pillar 1: Developing Effective and Transparent Systems for Public Service through Integrity in Public Service and Accountability and Transparency;

Pillar 2: Strengthening Anti-Bribery Actions and Promoting Integrity in Business Operations through Effective Prevention, Investigation and Prosecution and Corporate Responsibility and Accountability;

Pillar 3: Supporting Active Public Involvement including Public Discussion of Corruption, Access to Information and Public Participation.

To date, 27 governments have signed the ACAP including Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hong Kong S.A.R., India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macao, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam.

ACAP provisions address weaknesses in governance and incidences of corruption, which also deter effective forest law compliance and governance. The ACAP provides for fiscal transparency, transparency in procurement, laws and regulations regarding public licences, and sound systems regarding contacts between government officials and businesses including areas of taxation, customs, access to information and reporting requirements. Moreover, the ACAP envisages a multistakeholder process whereby businesses, civil society and other actors can play a role in implementing and monitoring the progress of the ACAP. Although legally non-binding, the ACAP offers a useful framework for the region.

Multistakeholder/coalition-building processes and active, informed citizen participation

To develop sound and effective strategies for improved forest management, law compliance and governance supported by efforts to promote anticorruption, transparency and accountability, a coordinated, multistakeholder approach that includes active and informed citizen participation is essential. This means to align, as far as possible, stakeholders committed to both issues and to bring them into cooperative alliances and partnerships with a view to achieving maximum results. This can take the form of raising awareness about anticorruption laws and standards of forest sector stakeholders. At the same time, the anticorruption camp can focus on using its leverage and tools to promote the goals and objectives of forest sector stakeholders.

Transparency International recognizes the wealth of activities and interventions of international and local organizations, governments and businesses to mitigate illegal forest activities and trade in illegal timber and wood products, in support of varied interests. TI intends to support these efforts by providing anticorruption knowledge and tools. Through joint and consultative processes, TI and TI's National Chapters in the region would be in the position to lead anticorruption and governance for forest sector advocacy strategies. The advocacy strategies should be informed from cross-sectoral learning, strengthened and useful tools and capacity building. Locally, TI could apply operational tools such as the TI Business Principles for Countering Bribery12, the Integrity Pact13 and the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre.14 Globally and regionally, TI could use its expertise to monitor and benchmark the progress of law compliance across the region and at the same time use its leverage to promote relevant forest issues on relevant anticorruption agendas.15 To be clear, the role TI envisages is to support improved forest management, law compliance and governance by specifically addressing corruption challenges that have frustrated the former over the years. Given the urgency predicated by the current and anticipated future state of forests in Asia and the Pacific, TI is committed to addressing corruption factors without delay and in partnership and cooperation with the stakeholders concerned about the future of forests in Asia and the Pacific.

Conclusions

The future state of forests in Asia and the Pacific in the next 12 years will influence and impact the lives of people and the environment across the region, and possibly beyond. Further depletion of natural forests by illegal forest activities, illegal trade in timber and wood products and overconsumption could have catastrophic environmental and human consequences.

Realizing these foreseeable but unwanted outcomes, a wide range of stakeholders have taken measures to promote sustainable forest management and forest law compliance and governance. The success and impact of these measures have contributed to the development of numerous national and regional processes and developments to conserve and protect forests in the region. Time and again, however, these efforts have also been frustrated by persistent and in some cases endemic corruption. Corruption facilitates illegal forest activities and the illegal trade in timber and wood products. Corruption and weaknesses in governance operating within and outside the forest sector have impeded or decelerated movements to improved forest management and governance.

Effective strategies to ensure the sustainability of forests and to preserve natural forests need to be supported by targeted and informed projects and programmes to promote anticorruption, transparency and accountability in forestry. Such strategies should be based on comprehensive systems, stakeholder analyses and action-based research and developed and implemented though multistakeholder processes. Anticorruption instruments can provide agreed standards for transparency and accountability to assist international cooperation in tackling illegal transnational forest activities and to promote legal reforms for improved governance nationally. Transparency International, through its global network and National Chapters in Asia and the Pacific, is committed to addressing corruption factors without delay and in partnership and cooperation with the stakeholders concerned about the future of forests in the region.

Bibliography

Barber, C.V., Matthews, E., Brown, D., Brown, T.H., Curran, L. & Plume, C. 2002. The state of the forest: Indonesia. Global Forest Watch.

Candell, J. 2002. Land use effects on terrestrial carbon sources and sinks. Science in China, Vol. 45 Supp. (Series C) October 2002.

FAO, FRA. 2005. Statistics.

Larsen, J. 2007. Illegal logging threatens ecological and economic stability. Earth Policy Institute. May 2007.

Sundquist, B. 2007. Forest land degradation: a global perspective. The earth's carrying capacity. Some literature reviews and analyses.


1 Senior Programme Coordinator, Transparency International, Asia–Pacific Programme.
2 Numerous reports highlight estimates of timber and wood products from suspicious origin at import e.g. American Forest Product Association (AFPA), Illegal logging and global wood markets: the competitive impacts on the US wood products industry.
3 http://www.yale.edu/esi/
4 Percentage of total land area under protected status; ratio of gasoline price to world average; percentage of variables missing from the Consultative Group on Sustainable Indicators' "Rio to Jo'burg Dashboard"; knowledge creation in environmental science, technology, and policy; IUCN member organizations per million population; local Agenda 21 initiatives per million people; corruption measures; rule of law; civil and political liberties; World Economic Forum Survey on environmental governance; government effectiveness; democracy measure.
5 http://www.transparency.org/news_room/latest_news/press_releases/2006/en_2006_10_04_bpi_2006. Ranks of other Asia–Pacific countries: Australia (3), Japan (11), Hong Kong S.A.R. (18), Republic of Korea (21), Malaysia (25), Taiwan, P.O.C. (26) and India (30).
6 Anticorruption programmes have also only recently focused on sector reforms. "Traditionally" most programmes have sought systemic and institutional changes.
7 http://www.unodc.org/unodc/crime_convention_corruption.htm
8 http://www.oecd.org/document/21/0,3343,en_2649_34859_2017813_1_1_1_1,00.htm
9 http://www.oecd.org/document/28/0,3343,en_2649_34889_2397532_1_1_1_1,00.htm
10 Applicable to OECD member countries and ten non-OECD countries as signatories to the Declaration.
11 http://www1.oecd.org/daf/ASIAcom/ActionPlan.htm#actionplan
12 http://www.transparency.org/global_priorities/private_sector/business_principles
13 http://www.transparency.org/tools/integrity_pacts
14 http://www.transparency.org/regional_pages/europe_central_asia/priority_issues/alac
15 TI's methodology (CRINIS Project) to monitor transparency in political finance could be applied to problems of forest sector money politics. http://www.transparency.org/regional_pages/americas/crinis

The SmartWood programme for verification of legal origin

Christian Sloth,1 Jeffrey Hayward2 and Loy Jones3

Illegal logging's adverse affects and impacts on the environment as well as on the people and economies of primary timber-producing countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia have been receiving increased attention worldwide. As a response to the problems imposed by illegal logging a number of international, governmental, NGO and private sector initiatives have been initiated, most of which build on voluntary agreements. To lend credibility to these voluntary processes, the SmartWood programme of the Rainforest Alliance has introduced an independent auditing programme for Verification of Legal Origin (VLO) of timber and wood products.

Keywords: illegal logging, independent auditing, verified legal origin, verified legal right to harvest

Background

The persistence of illegal logging throughout the world's forests is undermining initiatives to promote social equity, environmental conservation, sustainable forest management and sustainable economic growth in many nations (World Bank 2005). While the nature of illegal logging impedes accurate calculation of the magnitude of the problem, estimates in some countries indicate that illegally harvested timber exceeds that of legally harvested timber (FAO/ ITTO 2005). At a global level, conservative estimates are that 10 percent of industrial roundwood production (approximately 4 percent of softwood and 15 percent of hardwood) is of questionable legality, resulting in inequitable competition for legal producers (Seneca/WRI 2004). In developing countries alone, illegal logging generates losses in assets and revenue in excess of US$10 billion annually (World Bank 2006). The social impact of illegal logging is significant, contributing to poverty, resource inequity and negative impact on rural livelihoods by jeopardizing the natural resources that many people rely on (Kaimowitz 2003; FAO/ITTO 2005).

Causes of illegal logging

There are many underlying causes of illegal logging, such as poor governance, flawed policy and legal frameworks, lack of transparency, corruption, law enforcement capacity, insufficient data and monitoring and high demand for cheap timber (FAO/ITTO 2005; Sizer 2005; Blaser et al. 2005; Seneca/WRI 2004). With the inherent complexity in devising and implementing effective solutions to such problems, initiatives are happening at many levels. To understand SmartWood's approach to Verification of Legal Origin (VLO) and how this fits with other initiatives, it is important to recognize what is transpiring simultaneously at international and national levels, and among NGOs and the private sector.4

Responses to illegal logging

International level initiatives

Since the 1990s, increasing international attention has focused on illegal logging, with many high-level meetings, statements and action plans to address it (Kaimowitz 2003; Telepak/EIA 2005). For example, the G8 Action Programme on Forests (1998–2002) was instrumental in raising the profile of the issue and highlighting the shared role of producer and consumer countries in creating solutions (Brack 2005). The Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) process further cultivated political acknowledgement and commitment towards addressing the problem, through regionally convening the governments in East Asia, Africa, Europe and North Asia. The European Commission's Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) has focused on promoting the availability, utilization and trade in legally verified forest products coming into the European Union.

National level (mandatory) initiatives

National level initiatives have emerged in both timber-consuming and producing countries. Some consumer countries have formulated procurement guidelines, requiring or specifying preference for importing legally verified or certified sustainable timber, to try to eliminate illegal timber.5 Timber-producing countries have focused on standard-setting processes to define legality and create auditable indicators. Significant pressure is being placed on producer countries to enforce mandatory verification of legality on export timber production (Brown 2006). But developing national definitions for "legal timber" and verification standards has proved to be a difficult process in many countries (Wells 2006). The process is often complicated by the presence of ambiguous requirements, contradictory laws, conflict between formal and informal laws, or a disjunction between legal and sustainable practices (Dykstra et al. 2002).

NGO and private sector (voluntary) initiatives

Voluntary verification schemes, independent forest monitoring and purchasing policies are the private sector response from committed businesses and consumers to eliminate destructive and illegal forest products from supply chains. Some verification approaches are designed and maintained by the companies themselves.6 Legality verification may take the form of partnerships between companies, organizations and/or alliances. For example, WWF's Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) produced guidelines for responsible purchasing among members, facilitates trade links between participants and monitors progress. SmartWood's new SmartStep programme, with participant requirements that begin with elements of legal compliance, is based on a stepwise approach to certification, which provides greater assurance that companies are making progressive steps towards Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. To lend credibility to such voluntary initiatives, third-party auditing is critical. As such, organizations with verification credentials are developing principles and criteria to evaluate legal origin or legal compliance.

Development of legality standards

Despite this rising interest in voluntary approaches to verify legality there are few developed standards for legal origin or full legal compliance. In preparing this VLO standard, SmartWood researched and considered available protocols from Indonesia (Department for International Development, the Ecolabel Institute and The Nature Conservancy), from the Forest Concession Monitoring System in Central Africa, as well as the Keurhout Protocol (Netherlands Timber Trade Association) and relevant material from SociŒtŒGŒnŒrale de Surveillance (SGS), ProForest, Eurocertifor and WWF. FSC and ITTO criteria were also considered.

We note the following commonalities in current approaches on standards and policies for legal verification:

  1. Acknowledgement that legality is only a first step, and not always the core one, in achieving sustainable forest management.
  2. Commitment to multitiered, stepwise approaches, which start with legal origin and progressively incorporate all aspects of legal compliance.
  3. The need to define legality within a framework of principles and criteria at national levels through multistakeholder processes.
  4. The importance of compatibility among standards for clarity and progress towards the overall goal of combating illegal logging.

Difference between legal origin and legal compliance

While verification of legal origin and legal compliance collectively result in a robust assurance of timber legality, it is important to distinguish the boundaries between the two, as SmartWood's approach expects this will be done in phases for different standards.

Legal origin

Legal origin focuses on the auditing of timber from forest sources to verify a documented legal right to harvest pursuant to the laws and regulations of the government of jurisdiction and that those suppliers follow and maintain documented Chain of Custody systems. Legal origin criteria and indicators focus on the possession of mandatory approvals, permits and documents required by the specific permitting framework of the country involved. Requirements focus on the company's possession of permits, planning approvals, payment of taxes and royalties and the maintenance of a Chain of Custody system.

Legal compliance

Legal compliance, on the other hand, expands upon the basic component of legal origin, through verification that the timber was produced in a manner that complies with all applicable and relevant laws and regulations governing forest management and trade in the jurisdiction. Legal compliance encompasses the totality of laws relating to environmental protection, wildlife, water and soil conservation, harvesting rules and practices, workers' health and safety and fairness to communities.

Complementary to the VLO standard will be a separate standard for Verifying Legal Compliance (VLC). Where VLO standards focus on the legitimacy within the permitting framework, our VLC standard will be comprehensive in evaluating compliance with all laws concerning environmental protection, wildlife, water and soil conservation, harvesting rules and codes of practice, workers' health and safety and fairness to communities. Multistakeholder processes in developing national legal compliance frameworks will be essential for the standards that SmartWood will adopt for VLC.

Scope of the SmartWood standard

SmartWood has developed a generic standard for VLO for companies or organizations that are seeking to have the origin of specific forest products verified. VLO to this standard will establish that audited producers and suppliers of timber within the defined scope of the evaluation have a documented legal right to harvest under the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction of operation and all points along the defined supply chain have a documented and controlled Chain of Custody system. In addition to the forest source of origin, the standard will be applicable to the onward possession and sale of the logs, lumber, chips, solid wood, or wood fibre-based products that were purchased, manufactured and/or sold from those companies that are within a defined audit scope and for which a functioning Chain of Custody system is in place. Any claims made in association with the requirements of the standard shall always be documented and supported by a SmartWood Verification Audit Report and/or Verification Statement and must be approved by SmartWood.

SmartWood will determine through the auditing process the frequency and scope of surveillance audits and whether it is necessary for them to happen at other points in the supply chain not already indicated by the company.

In verifying the existence of a credible Chain of Custody system, this standard incorporates the SmartWood Generic Standard for Chain of Custody June 2006, in which commonly accepted and time-proven protocols are observed regarding purchase, receiving, marking, separation, documentation and shipping. The first three principles of the VLO standard pertain to legal origin, while principle 4 of the standard is for CoC.7 The four principles of the standard are:

Principle 1. Legal Right to Harvest: The legal status of the forest management unit shall be clearly defined and boundaries delineated. The company shall prove that it has validly obtained the legal right to operate and to harvest timber from within the defined forest management unit.

Principle 2. Approved Planning Authorizations. The company shall have received the necessary approval for the basic and fundamental planning requirements legislated as necessary to enable forest management and is adhering to production restrictions and quotas within its permitted harvest rights.

Principle 3. Payment of Fees and Taxes Required to Maintain Rights. The company regularly fulfills all obligatory tax, fees and/or royalty payments associated with maintaining the legal right to harvest and permitted harvesting volumes.

Principle 4. Traceability of Timber. Documented control of the Chain of Custody of forest products is a fundamental requirement to ensure that separation is maintained between verified and non-verified products.

It is intended that the standard can be the basis for application in all forest types: tropical, temperate and boreal, in developing and developed countries, in plantations and natural forests and for small, medium and large enterprises, either public or private.

This is a draft document and should be accepted as an initial starting point to verify the origin is from a licensed source. The VLO standards are not intended to assess full legal compliance and should not be construed to convey this. This international generic standard will serve as the basis for the adaptation of nation-specific standards, which will be developed in every country where SmartWood offers this service. These standards draw upon our understanding of the global efforts of multiple organizations working to increase forest transparency through verification of legality and independent forest monitoring. SmartWood notes the important work in this arena by WWF, World Bank, Proforest, VERIFOR, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Global Witness, the World Resources Institute, The Nature Conservancy, SGS, Chatham House, EU, DFID, the Ecolabel Institute, TRAFFIC, Forest Trends and others.

Permissible claims related to the standard

Companies successfully evaluated by SmartWood against this VLO standard receive an independent verification that the company has a documented system in place to ensure claims regarding products sold correspond with claims about the origin or source of purchased forest products. SmartWood will require review and approval of all language about or referencing Rainforest Alliance and/or SmartWood in conjunction with VLO that are made by the company in advertising, brochures, catalogues, or other promotional materials.

SmartWood will provide any company that has been successfully audited and compliant with these standards the opportunity to communicate that message by means of a Verification Statement that SmartWood shall issue. The Verification Statement will be regulated similar to a certificate, with similar parameters of scope, period of validity and required information.

In nearly all circumstances, the Verification Statement will include the following information:

  1. Company, seller, or representatives' name(s) and contact details.
  2. Forest product types.
  3. Location and jurisdiction of suppliers.
  4. Date of the initial certification report with confidential specifics of the audit.
  5. Verification code number.
  6. Validity period of the statement.

Verified companies may use the Rainforest Alliance and SmartWood names and logos only off-product and only with prior written consent. Use of any certification seal or label in conjunction with VLO is not permitted. Verified companies will be allowed, however, to put a verification code number (e.g. SW-VLO-###) upon invoices and products. More information can be obtained by contacting SmartWood directly.

Bibliography

Blaser, J., Contreras, A., Oksane, T., Puustjarvi, E., & Schmithusen, F. 2005. Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia: reference paper. Prepared for the Ministerial Conference, 22–25 November 2005, by Intercooperation and World Bank.

Brack, D. 2005. Illegal logging. Chatham House Briefing Paper. SDP BP 05/02. http://www.illegal-logging.info/documents

Brown, D. 2006. Designing verification systems for the timber trade: learning from international processes. VERIFOR Briefing Paper. February.

Contreras-Hermosilla, A. & Global Witness. 2003. Emerging best practices for combating illegal activities in the forest sector. DFID–World Bank–CIDA.

Dykstra, D., Kuru, G., Taylor, R., Nussbaum, R., Magrath, W. & Story, J. 2002. Technologies for wood tracking: verifying and monitoring the chain of custody and legal compliance in the timber industry. Environment and Social Development East Asia and Pacific Region Discussion Paper. Published by World Bank.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) & International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). 2005. Best practices for improving law compliance in the forestry sector. FAO Forestry Paper: 145, 2005.

Kaimowitz, D. 2003. Forest law enforcement and rural livelihoods. International Forestry Review, 5(3): 199–210.

Myllynen, A.-L. 2005. Creating value: partnerships for responsible wood procurement, StoraEnso. Presented at TFD's ENA FLEG joint Civil Society and Forest Industry Preparatory Event, November 2005, St Petersburg, Russia.

Seneca Creek Associates, LLC & Wood Resources International. 2004. "Illegal" logging and global wood markets: the competitive impacts on the U.S. wood products industry. Prepared for American Forest & Paper Association.

Sizer, N. 2005. Halting the theft of Asia's forest. Far Eastern Economic Review, May 2005, pp: 50–53.

SmartWood. 2007. Generic Standard for Verification of Legal Origin. Version 1.0, (DRAFT) January 2007.

Telepak & Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). 2005. The last frontier: illegal logging in Papua and China's massive timber theft.

Wells, A. 2006. The legal basis for verification systems –standard setting for legal compliance. VERIFOR. Draft of 7 June 2006.

World Bank. 2005. Governments commit to action on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in Europe and North Asia. Press release, 25 November 2005. Available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTFORESTS/Resources ENAFLEG_press_release_eng_11_28.pdf

World Bank. 2006. Strengthening Forest Law Enforcement and Governance: addressing a systemic constraint to sustainable development. World Bank Report No. 36638-GLB.


1 SmartWood Asia Pacific Regional Office, Jl. Ciung Wanara No.1x, Lingkungan Kerta Sari, Kelurahan Panjer.
2 Denpasar Selatan, 80225 Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 361 224 356. Fax: +62 361 235 875. Mobile: 62-81-2100-6643. E-mail: csloth@ra.org. Web site: www.rainforest-alliance.org
3 SmartWood Verification Services Manager, 2204 Flagler Place NW, Washington, DC, 20001.
5 For example, the governments of Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands and Japan produced guidelines or procurement policies expressing preference for legal or certified timber imports (World Bank 2006).
4 Comprehensive descriptions of current initiatives to combat illegal logging can be found in: World Bank 2006 or Chatham House (www.illegal-logging.net).
6 IKEA, Stora Enso and Metsallitto (retailers) have been developing systems for verifying the legal origin of timber and maintaining tracking systems in their supply chain.
7 CoC — Chain of Custody, as used in this standard, does not refer to FSC CoC. It refers to the process and systems used to trace timber from point to point.

Key challenges for the NGO community to 2020

Chen Hin Keong1

Environmental non-government organizations (NGOs) in Asia and the Pacific region have a long history of work on issues such as local and indigenous communities' rights vis-√†-vis land tenure, protected areas and deforestation, particularly in response to massive development programmes being embarked on by many governments in the Asia–Pacific region. However, NGOs only began to focus on other aspects of forestry issues, such as illegal logging, in the late 1980s. The initial predominance of international NGOs was subsequently followed by the establishment of local environmental NGOs staffed by local people, who attempted to address national forestry and environmental issues within their respective national and local socioeconomic contexts. Environmental NGOs face a number of external and internal challenges. The external challenges include issues related to forestry — illegal logging and forest law enforcement and governance, land tenure and rights, certification, sustainable forest management, deforestation and degradation, biodiversity and species trade; people — indigenous people's rights, local communities; the environment — soil, water and energy, climate change; and cross-cutting issues — investments and inequality. Internal challenges include those related to: coordination; approaches and tactics; adaptability, flexibility and innovation; technical expertise; political catalysts versus alternative service providers; developed versus developing world environmentalism; democratic representation and accountability; managerial matters; funding; personalities and spokespersons; staff remuneration and career paths. On the whole, the environmental NGO movement in 2020 will be much more extensive and have a greater influence on government policies and programme development in the region, with more governments accepting that environmental NGOs can play a constructive role in forestry and environmental issues.

Keywords: environmental NGOs, policy challenges, internal and external challenges

Introduction

The past 30 years have seen a dramatic rise in the involvement of civil society in work related to forests and forestry activities in the Asia–Pacific region. Forests face an array of interests, some of which conflict. The interests are legitimate and cannot be ignored although legislation has been enacted by governments to orchestrate their consideration. They include, inter alia, the use of forest and forest lands for agriculture, development, infrastructural needs, energy, biodiversity protection, water and tourism, as well as timber production and other forms of extractive use. Non-government organizations (NGOs) in the region have actually had a long history of work on issues such as local and indigenous communities' rights, land tenure or protected areas and deforestation, particularly in response to massive development programmes embarked upon by many governments. However, in the late 1980s, NGOs underscored other aspects of forestry issues, such as illegal logging, through the publication of reports that highlighted rampant illegal logging in some tropical producing countries, followed by temperate and boreal producing countries in Asia. This initial predominance of international NGOs was subsequently followed by local NGO uptake that attempted to address problems within respective national and local socio-economic contexts.

NGOs are a diverse grouping that ranges from global, international to national and local organizations, with very diverse approaches and objectives. They include membership and nonmembership groups. This paper highlights some of the key challenges to 2020 for the NGO communities in Asia and the Pacific. It is not meant to be a definitive paper on NGOs in general but is based on the experience and observations of the author, who has worked with conservation and environmental NGOs in Asia and the Pacific over the last 20 years.

In the Asia–Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS) to 2010, Balsiger (1998) gave a detailed analysis of environmental civil society organizations. NGOs constantly face various factors that impact on the work they are engaging in. Environmental NGOs have particular issues that challenge and influence the way they work and raise funds and, for some, the reason for their being.

Policy issues faced by environmental NGOs

The inputs at this conference have presented a number of policy issues that governments and other stakeholders have to address if they are to succeed in ensuring there is a future for forests in Asia and the Pacific. Environmental NGOs have to be aware of these policy issues, understand them in sufficient depth and relate them back to their mandates through adjustments to their programmes and activities. Failing to do so may lead to waste of resources or exacerbate the loss of forests. The mixed bag of issues includes:

All of the items in this list and the policies developed from them, have an impact on the socioeconomic and cultural well-being of society and businesses, which in turn exert pressure on the extent and quality of forests. The environmental and forest landscapes will shift to a new balance as the issues are addressed through government policies, investments and the ability of governments and businesses to listen, acknowledge and take on the concerns of NGOs and the people. Environmental NGOs have to take note of the issues and the policies that are developed by governments and businesses, in order to address any perceived imbalance, to achieve sustainable development nationally.

It is realistic to note, as Katherine Warner did in her presentation, that we cannot assume that the future will be similar to today. In all likelihood, people and forests in the future will be very different. There will be new social, economic and environmental landscapes. Therefore, NGOs have to be flexible and adaptable as they address problems, while staying true to their nature.

External challenges — opportunities or threats for NGOs?

Forests face a number of challenges that impact on their existence and viability for the sustainable provision of ecosystem services and benefits. This paper does not attempt to capture all the current and future challenges, but will highlight some (also highlighted at this conference) that have an obvious or direct impact on environmental NGOs. In no order of priority, the following challenges are some of the issues that are faced by NGOs.

Forestry

Illegal logging and forest law enforcement and governance: Illegal logging has been estimated to be as high as 80 percent for some countries, but at the global level, in 2003, it was estimated at 10 percent of the global forest product trade (Brack 2003). The World Bank estimated the annual asset losses from illegal logging to be around US$10 billion (World Bank 2006). Illegal logging also affects the livelihoods of an estimated 735 million rural people who live in or near closed tropical forests (Contreras-Hermosilla et al. 2007). Governments and NGOs have highlighted many incidences of illegal logging, such as encroachments into protected areas, overcutting of allowable cuts and cutting of undersized and protected trees. Wide-ranging efforts have been initiated in recent years to combat illegal logging. The G8 first highlighted the issues of illegal logging in 1998, which was followed by the ministerial conference and declaration on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) in Asia in 2001, in Europe and Africa in 2002 and the Europe–North Asia FLEG in 2005. There is also the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative by the European Commission that is negotiating bilateral agreements for a licensing scheme for legal timber. Many international environmental NGOs are involved in promoting conservation and sustainable forest management and addressing illegal logging. Significant funds have been provided by donors for target countries to tackle forest governance and illegal logging. All these efforts appear to be already bearing fruit as can be seen by the reduction in scope and scale of illegal logging in countries like Indonesia. This is reflected in the recent publication from a campaigning NGO of the situation in Indonesia for ramin (Gonystylus spp.), a highly valuable timber species found in peat swamps (Telepak et al. 2007). Illegal logging depends to a large extent on the resources and efforts put into combating violations, but also the political will to stop it. In the medium term, a possible scenario is that illegal logging will receive less international attention as affected countries significantly reduce incidences in their own territories. NGOs will continue to provide input and assistance, where welcomed, towards forest governance, but will shift focus, resources and efforts to monitor the forestry sector, thereby ensuring a high degree of transparency to counter the many factors that have weakened the fabric of government forestry control frameworks.

Land tenure and rights: Social NGOs, especially those with agendas to fight for the rights of indigenous people, will continue to devote resources to this issue. International and national NGOs, especially those from developed nations, have campaigned hard to get governments in their countries to work with developing countries' governments to create space and agendas for indigenous groups' rights. Environmental, and to some extent the social NGOs have been pushing and will continue to promote various international mechanisms, such as FLEG and FLEGT, to ensure that the issues of indigenous people are addressed. The future scenario will see a continuation of the thrust to work through developed countries and to seek advocacy in developing countries, as the international mechanisms are interpreted for implementation locally.

Certification: Certification schemes are third-party instruments to certify the legality and sustainability of forestry and timber products in trade. Worldwide, certified forest covers 7 percent of the global forest area, reaching 270 million hectares in mid-2006; however, 58 percent of these forests are in North America and 29 percent in Europe, which leaves only 13 percent elsewhere, including tropical forest regions. Certified forest products have only obtained approximately 7 200 certificates worldwide, which is only a fraction of the overall timber trade (GTZ 2007). A probable scenario to 2020 is that the process of certification and certified products will continue to be slow. The enabling conditions to accelerate certification are limited, as it is voluntary. Perhaps certification can be linked to potential investment opportunities from superannuation and other large funds that are seeking to invest their money in low risk business, including good forestry operations. This new approach should be the focus of greater environmental NGO action in future.

Sustainable forest management: The objective of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has been to strive for sustainable forest management (SFM) in the tropics through its numerous programmes and projects. This goal is expanding to temperate forests in Asia and the Pacific, especially in northern Asia. According to an ITTO report on the Status of Tropical Forest Management 2005 (ITTO 2006), there has been progress from no forests under sustainably managed tropical production in 1988, to more than 36 million hectares in 2005, although this amounts to only 5 percent of the total production forests under SFM. Many producer countries have a long way to go to achieve SFM. It has taken ITTO 15 years to reach this stage and it will take as long, if not longer, to bring significant areas in tropical and temperate countries to meet the objectives of SFM. Therefore, NGOs will continue to challenge governments to achieve SFM, and will continue to provide technical and financial support and advice to ensure that all aspects of SFM, including environmental, conservation, social and economic factors are taken into account in a balanced and equitable manner.

Deforestation and degradation: For all ITTO producer countries in the tropics, forest cover declined from 52.7 percent in 1985 to 46.4 percent in 2005, with the highest decline in Asia — from 41.4 percent in 1985 to 35.4 percent in 2005 (ITTO 2006). This is in contrast to all ITTO consumer countries, where forest cover increased from 22 to 27.1 percent in the same period. NGOs cherish forests for different purposes ranging from their environmental and development values to the roles they play in human survival and livelihood strategies. However, the expansion of agriculture, especially large-scale oil-palm plantations, on forest land is currently a major issue for conservation and environmental NGOs. For conversion of forest to large-scale agricultural plantations, NGOs are fighting, and will continue to fight, for the protection of high-value conservation forests, forest corridors as conduits for wildlife in fragmented forests and rehabilitation of degraded forests. These actions are targeted for maintaining biodiversity and conservation of species in the wild. Forest degradation is not measured by ITTO, but it occurs for a number of reasons, including unsustainable logging operations. For the remaining forests, environmental NGOs will continue to challenge governments to ensure that forests are maintained in their natural state and that forest degradation is kept to a minimum during extractive operations.

Biodiversity and species trade: The Asia–Pacific tropical forest region houses very high biological diversity, with some of the richest species diversity found in the world. Biological diversity faces a variety of threats, in particular from habitat loss and habitat degradation. Many species are traded. Domestically and internationally, excluding fisheries, wildlife trade has been valued at between US$5 to 50 billion per annum (Reeve 2002). The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) lists over 5 000 animal and 28 000 plant species, although not all are endangered or threatened as CITES includes species that need to be monitored in case trade is detrimental to their survival in the wild. The protection of ecosystems has been and remains a strong focus of conservation NGOs.

NGOs are now addressing the rehabilitation of degraded lands and in tropical forest countries forest restoration is a major objective, as highlighted in the International Tropical Timber Agreement 2006 and its predecessor. The three key areas, ecosystem protection, ensuring species sustainability in trade and rehabilitation of degraded and lost habitat, will continue to be the targets of environmental NGOs. TRAFFIC works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals does not threaten their conservation. Trade in wildlife appears to continue unabated, and is even increasing if CITES proposals and listings are any indication. Environmental NGOs should continue to support government initiatives to protect and control the exploitation of species, while conducting research and analysis on the effects of trade while communicating their results at international meetings of conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and CITES.

People

Indigenous people's rights: Indigenous groups are not homogenous and their dependence on the forest is related to either sedentary agriculture, shifting agriculture, or hunting–gathering. The forests of the Asia–Pacific region host approximately 200 to 300 million indigenous people (Bahuchet 1993). The role of indigenous and forest-dependent peoples in SFM is being increasingly recognized at the international level and also by their own governments. The loss and degradation of forests leads to economic impoverishment and, to a large extent, the changing, and perhaps ending, of their ways of life. In many countries, the issue is not about their rights to access the forest for subsistence. In many cases, they are allowed to do this according to the law, but equitable sharing of benefits and rights of revenue generation from forest use are contentious issues with governments and the private sector. There are three core demands — the right to ownership of their lands, right to self-determination and the right to representation through their own institutions (Colchester 1994). NGOs will continue to be inspired by successes in developed countries, such as Canada and Australia, where large tracts of forests and lands have been returned to indigenous people, and will continue to lobby for tenure rights with their governments. This is despite the reality that more and more indigenous people are entering the mainstream of society as governments pursue a programme of integrating them with the rest of the country, whether they like it or not. Even if a few indigenous groups remain in the forests, social NGOs will continue to call for their rights to be recognized. Some of these groups have formed their own institutions, such as cooperatives, cultural centres, political fronts and human rights networks and international and local social/environmental NGOs will continue to provide both technical and financial support as needed. Governments should participate in dialogue with an open mind and find ways to resolve conflict.

Local communities: Due to population migration and shifts in human movement, some of which have been imposed on marginalized societies by governments or through large-scale agricultural plantation policy, many communities have relocated to forest areas. These communities may not have similar interaction and relationships with the forests as indigenous people, but they are much more numerous and may encroach on what indigenous people consider to be their native customary lands. In these communities, the issues are probably a little less complex, as their rights to the forests are tenuous, if any, unless they have been given land titles or tenure. In this context, the focus of environmental NGOs is on understanding issues of livelihood and income generation and much greater emphasis is given to alternative livelihood sources, such as cash cropping, microloans and learning new income-generating skills. It is likely that there will be particularly notable complementarity between environmental NGO concerns and those of governments to aid these communities and closer cooperation should continue and will probably increase in future.

Environment

Soil, water and energy: Forest plays an important role in influencing the quantity and quality of water flow in river basins, soil erosion and sedimentation. Electrical power generation uses fossil fuel mostly and the finite resources and polluting nature of such fuels means that governments have been contemplating and initiating dams, some of which are single purpose, but many of which are multipurpose, including those for agricultural irrigation, flood mitigation downstream and maintaining the consistency and quantity of water for development and consumption. However, large tracts of forest are being inundated because of dam construction. The clearing of land to facilitate construction creates heavy loss of topsoil. Watersheds and river basins that flow through or occur in more than one nation are not managed in an integrated manner and in many cases the uplands are also targeted for logging, as lowland forests have been depleted. Soil loss as a result of deforestation and uncontrolled logging has raised concerns among environmental NGOs, especially when flash floods kill local and indigenous people living downstream. Current issues of interest among environmental NGOs, such as illegal logging and indigenous rights, for which significant attention and resources are currently being diverted, may reach a stage in the medium term when governments initiate critical censure of environmental and other NGOs. In this scenario, some of the international environmental NGOs may shift significant resources and focus away from issues related to water, soil and energy, in particular on watershed management across boundaries, and an integrated management and protection of river basins, especially those that cross international borders.

Climate change: Numerous marginalized societies are living in low-lying areas across the Asia–Pacific region, many of which could disappear as a result of the impact of climate change. This may lead to huge social, economic and environmental upheavals of millions of people. Environmental NGOs may focus not only on trying to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but also on influencing governments to take the necessary actions to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that about 80 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions during the 1990s resulted from fossil fuel burning, with about 20 percent from land-use change. The land-use change factor is significant to environmental NGOs. The IPCC also noted that 65 percent of the total mitigation potential was located in the tropics and about 50 percent of the total could be achieved by reducing emissions from deforestation, which include forest fires. Environmental NGOs have to understand the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its implications for forests before they can begin to take action on the ground; in particular, they need to understand the concept of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD), carbon sequestration and other mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol. International environmental NGOs have been quick to follow, understand and promulgate interventions during climate change debates and will have to take the lead in generating interest and coordinating action nationally and regionally. The transfer of knowledge, funding and other resources will take time. International environmental NGOs will continue to track the development of the UNFCCC and lobby for mechanisms to reduce climate change while local environmental NGOs have the option of focusing on impact mitigation on the ground. A probable scenario in the next 15 years will be that more and more local environmental NGOs will have programmes that focus not only on climate change effects in relation to their own agendas, but also a repackaging and programming of activities with strong links to understanding the effects of climate change on local communities.

Cross-cutting

Investments: Forest management is constrained by obtaining sufficient funds to sustain forestry operations; this is attributable to various factors, many of them outside the forestry sector's control. There are issues related to tenure, political stability, markets for wood, sound legal structure, illegal logging boycotts and tax regulations, in addition to corporate governance and property rights (Neilson 2007). Even for certified forests, raising funds for operations and expansion is difficult owing to these external factors. Industry should explore new funding mechanisms, in addition to traditional financial mechanisms, with the financial sector. Among financing instruments are the debt-for-nature swaps, payment for ecosystem services schemes, "avoiding deforestation" within the context of the UNFCCC and stronger incentives for private sector investment in SFM. Another is the Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF), which is a scheme for governments' investment authorities, such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Temasek Holdings in Singapore; they are estimated to have US$2.5 trillion to invest in business opportunities with low risk. This is in addition to superannuation and other pension funds around the world. Such new money could help to galvanize the forestry sector and improve corporate governance and transparency of the timber trade, as investors prefer low risk ventures. Environmental NGOs can play a critical and influential role if they decide to work with the forest industry to ensure the legality and sustainability of forestry and forest products' trade, which can perhaps then attract the investment interests of such funds.

Inequality: This is about income distribution, access to forests and rights of people to the resources of a forest. A fundamental challenge has always been to ensure equitable distribution of benefits and services from forests, in particular to urban populations, but also to those closely dependent on them. Environmental and social NGOs are expected to continue challenging governments to consider equitable distribution as a fundamental feature in any exploitation of forestry resources.

Internal challenges

While the impact of external challenges on the existence and viability of environmental NGOs is considerable, it is the internal challenges that determine how much NGOs must strive to contribute to the wider political, social, environmental and development agendas.

Balsiger (1998) summarized the positive traits of NGOs in that they:

On the negative side, Balsiger (1998) noted that NGOs were sometimes criticized for their:

The positive traits can turn into significant challenges and NGOs have to be on their guard against turning the traits into a problem. All of these traits and challenges are common to civil society in general and therefore also to environmental NGOs, including those that focus on forests.

Coordination

This refers to coordination among the NGO community. NGOs are not homogenous, with like-minded NGOs forming subgroups better able to coordinate. There will be rivalry and competition for funds and membership concerns for membership organizations. Coordination can be at the international level, such as this APFSOS conference, which brings together many diverse environmental NGO organizations, but this type of coordination is expensive. Donors are willing to provide funding for coordination work on environment and forestry, although environmental NGOs themselves should evaluate if such large meetings are essential.

At the national level, there are various examples that illustrate the need for coordination. For instance, in the 1980s in Cambodia, international NGOs were working on development, social and environmental issues with the government, as there were few, if any, local NGOs. In 1991, when the author first visited Cambodia, international NGOs formed the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC). This was for cooperation and coordination as there were over 30 different international NGOs operating in the country. The NGO community felt the need to coordinate strategically as each NGO was approaching similar government ministries and officials and there were other challenges, including fundraising. The CCC received formal accreditation from the State of Cambodia. In 1996, the CCC developed the Gender and Development (GAD) project. This project ran for a few years and, in 2000, GAD separated from the CCC and became a local NGO. International NGOs creating local NGOs that are still funded from international sources can be found in many developing countries. This level of coordination and development and transfer of knowledge is one of the ways to foster the formation of local NGOs, staffed by locals. This trend will continue as NGOs, with support from governments and donors, provide the space and funds to develop and strengthen the environmental NGO community locally.

Another example comes from India. IUCN, in the early 1990s known as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, before it became known as IUCN — The World Conservation Union, is an international organization with government and NGO members. While the author was with the IUCN Secretariat, IUCN organized several meetings of members in India to discuss the development of the IUCN's work programme on conservation and environmental concerns in India. The approaches, views and understanding of the membership in India were complex. The members were articulate and the debates during the meeting required a facilitated approach and an understanding of the political, economic and social context of the country. Such coordination, that brings together potential adversaries, was important for reaching consensus on an IUCN work programme to guide the activities of IUCN in its entirety, including membership in India.

Approaches and tactics

NGO approaches and tactics vary considerably. Some are non-violent and others, more extremist, can resort to violent confrontation. NGOs can engage in grassroots work, awareness raising, environmental education, networking, policy advocacy, research and consumer boycotts. NGOs can act at the global, regional, national and local levels. In facing both internal and external challenges, environmental NGOs may shift approaches and tactics in order to maintain their ability to meet their mission objectives. This relates to their adaptability. But as an NGO grows larger, the ability to adapt and be flexible may be lost. Its ability to engage may also be jeopardized once an environmental NGO starts to widen its approaches to address a wider set of issues, such as those outlined earlier in this paper, and also when an NGO re-invents itself in the light of the external challenges it is facing.

Environmental NGOs also look to the future in terms of developing their tactics, for example by involving young leaders and decision-makers likely to come into power in the following ten to 15 years. These individuals may require greater exposure to global environmental issues. Environmental NGOs should cultivate and maintain relations with them; they should continue to foster their understanding and awareness of issues and the solutions, some of which may be more acceptable politically in future if society and the political process become more progressive and inclusive.

Adaptability, flexibility and innovation

Environmental NGOs can be small and hence more readily adaptable than government bureaucracy. However, when an NGO expands its scope, size and programme, it has to have more administrative and management controls. Even so, NGOs will continue to innovate in the field and at the policy level because of their inherent flexibility. This may be because NGOs, while struggling to get things right, also continue to question and change, as their constituents, be they part of nature or marginalized people, may not have their own voices.

Technical expertise

The ability to adapt and be flexible is also related to making use of technical experts and consultants. NGOs can still be flexible as their overheads can remain small, and costs such as technical support can be included in project budgets. It is essential that environmental NGOs still maintain a core staff for continuity and to ensure that learning can be institutionalized. It should be noted that technical experts could be ex-colleagues who have decided to work freelance. An understanding on the part of consultants of the context and environment in which environmental NGOs operate is valuable. Consultants from profit-making consulting firms may be very professional in their approach, but may cost more.

The choice of political catalyst — "can't fight them, join them" — versus alternative service-provider

Many environmental NGOs use field research to inform policy debate. Some prefer to remain as service providers in implementing projects. How NGOs use research information is determined by their approach and tactics — which can be confrontational or dialogue-based. After many years of fighting to change policies and knocking proverbial heads against proverbial walls, some environmental NGOs may feel frustrated, despair and take a hard line approach to dealing with authorities and the private sector. It is to be hoped that this confrontational approach will not be the norm, as the author detects a trend whereby governments are moving towards greater engagement with environmental NGOs. This creates the space for dialogue and is a positive step, especially if governments are not only willing to listen, but to translate some of the concerns of NGOs into action. This aspect of NGO functionality is closely linked to media considerations, both local and international. As environmental NGOs become more sophisticated, the media will increasingly turn to them for information, opinions and commentaries, to provide an alternative perspective to official views. On the other hand, there are many individuals in environmental NGOs who have decided to work in the government to try and effect change from within.

Developed versus developing world environmentalism

Few local NGOs have the mandate, capacity and resources to work on a broad range of forestry issues and instead focus on specific problems, such as land tenure, indigenous rights, water, protected areas and illegal logging. International NGOs, on the other hand, continue to work on the broader global and strategic issues related to the environment and forestry and focus on a particular sector or cross-cutting theme. But in the future, some of these local environmental NGOs will develop the broad range of expertise necessary to take on these strategic issues, including international forestry issues, links with multilateral environment and trade agreements and industries. These NGOs will lend their support to international concerns on forestry and environmental issues that have an impact on their own countries.

Environmental NGOs have, in the past, been classified according to whether they operated in the developed world, where they have tended to focus on conservation and protection of forests (so-called "First world environmentalism" in Balsiger [1998]) or the developing world, where they have tended to focus on efforts to improve rural livelihoods through the use of forests ("Third world environmentalism"). This distinction is cloudy as there is a greater convergence between NGOs. Differing views on certain issues remain, for instance on the question of whether there should be total protection of species from trade. Environmental NGOs from the developed world usually have greater experience in policy advocacy and understand and internalize new issues of global concern, such as climate change, and this can be complemented by the engagement and empowering of local communities by environmental NGOs in the developing world. As developing countries become more affluent and middle classes represent a greater proportion of their populations, the move towards greater protectionism and sophistication in policy advocacy will appear in these countries. Greater coordination of the views and approaches of NGOs locally will be needed to reach a consensus. This may increase the likelihood of a greater number of environmental NGOs being unwilling to compromise with governments.

Democratic representation and accountability

Environmental NGOs can be membership- or non-membership based. The former usually have a broad range of expertise within their membership that can assist in ensuring the organization is held accountable for funds received and implementation of projects, with the support of staff. For non-membership based organizations, the board and staff carry out checks and balances. Increasingly, donors require greater accountability for funds disbursed and also expect environmental NGOs to carry out monitoring and evaluation of activities supported by the donor. This increasing trend towards greater scrutiny, by governments, donors and internally by the organization, means that technical support and capacity building will have to increase. Donor support to carry out capacity building will help to ensure more and more NGOs, especially the smaller environmental NGOs, will be more accountable in future. The ability of environmental NGOs to be transparent and accountable in their operations could help to attract greater donor support. NGOs take the moral and ethical high ground to criticize the authorities and thus have added incentive to ensure their own operations are beyond reproach and that all regulations are followed.

Managerial issues

These issues are linked to accountability. An increase in accountability requires an increase in management capacity. This also relates to increased sophistication in reporting, monitoring and evaluation, especially by the donors. Good managers can help to increase the credibility of their organizations and could help to attract more funds.

Funding

Significant funding for local environmental NGOs still comes from international environmental NGOs, with increasing support from the wider international donor community, including the EU and international bodies like the United Nations and the World Bank, and various aid agencies. Raising money domestically will continue to be a challenge for environmental NGOs from developing countries, even as the economy develops, and the middle class sector increases. In countries such as Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam, international NGOs and donors have been supporting local NGOs. Partly this is because the local environmental NGOs are the implementing partners for the international NGOs, or are receiving money in support of their objectives and for specific projects. However, this has the potential effect of colouring the perception of governments about the motives and objectives of local environmental NGOs.

In the late 1980s, donors were interested in channelling funds to Viet Nam to address environmental issues in the country. The donors were already supporting the government directly. A group of senior government officials and researchers formed the Vietnam Association of Nature and Environmental Protection in 1988 that provided flexibility in implementing programmes to support the national environmental protection strategy. This quasi-NGO implemented project was funded by donors and had the added advantage that the project implementers knew the political, environmental, social and development context of the country very well.

As the transaction cost of project administration increases and looks set to continue on an upward trend, environmental NGOs will have to look at innovative ways of fundraising. Coalitions and partnerships, bringing together organizations with different skills and expertise, will increase in future to attract larger amounts of funds.

Personalities and spokespersons

In the 1980s and 1990s, Professor Vo Quy, a prominent conservationist in Viet Nam, managed to attract donor interest in Viet Nam and raise funds for the nascent environmental movement in the country. He engendered global media coverage of conservation issues in Viet Nam. He was one of the founders of the environmental movement in the country and founded the first environmental research and training institute. He used his status and global network to bring in the funding and was the country's de facto spokesperson on conservation as well.

In the past, there appears to have been a greater degree of use of political or other personalities for fundraising or increasing the profile of NGOs, raising issues and influencing the government nationally and also internationally. Perhaps, while there has been an increase in the number of environmental NGOs, the number of personalities has remained limited and there are insufficient to "go round". For some of the larger environmental NGOs, which are also more connected to the mass media, celebrities have taken on the role of raising profiles and fundraising. It is possible that, with greater public awareness of environmental issues in future, the need for personalities and high-profile spokespersons will decrease. Although, as Al Gore demonstrated, a personality is a very effective way to raise an issue nationally and internationally, provided the right person is chosen.

Remuneration and career paths for staff

This is a constraint for local and even international environmental NGOs. International environmental NGOs have a much higher remuneration package for staff, with greater benefits, and the larger international NGOs can offer some level of career movement. For local environmental NGOs, since fundraising is an issue, not just in terms of the amount raised annually but also in terms of consistency, which affects cash flow, the remuneration package may not be as competitive in comparison to the private sector. Another factor that can influence the ability of environmental NGOs to recruit motivated staff is the purchasing power of the local currency. For example, a young person working in a fast food chain in the United States and living at home should be able to save an adequate amount to travel to a developing country within six to 12 months. In the same (but reversed) situation, a young person working in the same fast food chain in a developing country would not have sufficient savings to visit the United States, although, if lucky could perhaps afford to visit neighbouring developing countries.

The lack of a competitive salary structure can lead to a higher turnover of staff. As staff members gain experience, they may be headhunted by other NGOs who can pay more. In many cases, staff move out of the environmental NGO community and into the private sector. When an international environmental NGO sets up an office in a developing country, owing to the language barrier and lack of knowledge of local customs and politics, it is usually desirable to hire someone with a reasonable and even good command of an international language. This type of person is usually scarce and it is not uncommon to find staff hopping from one organization to another. Even for a country like Malaysia, where remuneration is more competitive, the number of environmental NGOs who are successful at consistent fundraising is limited and staff turnover continues to be high. Only the truly motivated and those dedicated to the cause will remain in the local environmental NGO milieu. This scenario is not expected to change much in many countries in Asia and Pacific. The standard of living of a country will have to increase tremendously before this may change.

Conclusion

On the whole, the environmental NGO movement in 2020 will be much more extensive and have a greater influence on government policies and programme development in the region, with more governments accepting that environmental NGOs can play a constructive role in forestry and environmental issues.

Bibliography

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1 Global Forest Trade Programme Leader, TRAFFIC International 9-3a, 3rd Floor, Jalan SS23/11, Taman SEA, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

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