FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Backed by a global accord on climate change, Asia-Pacific forestry leaders gather to set agenda through 2020

A panoramic view of a man-made forest in the Philippines
23/02/2016 Clark, Pampanga, Philippines

Key forestry leaders from Asia-Pacific began deliberations today on a series of critical natural resources issues challenging the region. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience to the negative impacts of climate change are among the priority topics on the agenda for the five-day meeting that will be the main focus of Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, the largest gathering of its kind in the region in 2016.

“Now that the dust has settled on the Paris climate change conference, countries around the world are regrouping to see how they can translate the lofty commitments made in Paris into practical action on the ground,” stated Patrick Durst, senior forestry officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

Asia-Pacific Forestry Week provides the region’s first major opportunity to explore how the new global deal on climate change (Paris Agreement at COP21) is relevant to forest management in Asia-Pacific.

Attended by over a thousand forestry and natural resources officials from more than 30 countries, the event is co-organized by FAO and the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) in partnership with the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). It also runs in conjunction with the 26th session of the APFC, which convenes every two years to review progress and chart collaborative actions for forestry development in the region. 

“High-level consultations are being convened as part of Forestry Week to elaborate a roadmap for the restoration of denuded forests in the region. The regional action plan is designed in part to spell out strategies that will effectively enable countries to deliver on their COP21 pledges,” said Durst.

More than 70 parallel sessions, workshops and seminars will be convened during the week, covering diverse topics on future trade and markets, climate change, forestry and people, new institutions and governance, and green investment. Discussions are expected to result in renewed commitment and specific recommendations from policy makers and experts that will impact both national and international forestry-related investments and actions in the Asia-Pacific region up to 2020. 

Citizens raise concerns on forestry issues

Among the highlights of the opening plenary is a forum moderated by seasoned journalist Veronica Pedrosa. A panel of distinguished forestry and natural resources experts will be challenged with crowd-sourced questions from concerned citizens and forest stakeholders from various parts of the world, relating to how society can best benefit from forest resources while ensuring sustainability. 

Speakers at the event include Dean of the Forestry Department at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and head of the UBC Sustainable Forest Management Laboratory, John Innes; Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, Tony La Viña, who has served since 1997 as lead negotiator for the Philippines in the climate change negotiations; noted environmental economist and policy analyst and adjunct professor at the Australian National University, Neil Byron; President of the International Forestry Students Association, May Anne Then; DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje; DENR-Forest Management Bureau Director, Ricardo Calderon; and FAO Forestry Director, Eva Muller. 

CNN Hero Award Winner Budi Soehardi will make a special appearance to highlight how one person can truly contribute to “growing our future” through committed institutional, social initiatives and sustainable agroforestry.

Strong political will needed to support community-based forestry

Delegates of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week will also witness the launch of “Forty years of community-based forestry,” a new FAO report that presents a comprehensive look at the impact of community-based forestry since previous reviews in 1990 and 2001. 

The report says that to make community-based forestry work in the interest of people and forests, governments should demonstrate strong political will in strengthening the rights and access of communities and local people in managing and using forest resources. There is also a need to create solid national forest databases to monitor the effectiveness of community support and improve governance of forest tenure.

For more information on the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week and the 26th session of the Asia Pacific Forestry Commission, please visit: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/asia-pacific-forestry-week/en/

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