RAFT Program Manager, Allison Lewin, at the APRS 2016 talks about RAFT’s why it was important for RAFT to be there and what we hoped to achieve.
What is the importance of the Asia Pacific Rainforest Summit for RAFT?
For RAFT, the Asia Pacific Rainforest Summit was an important opportunity to highlight the critical role that timber-producing forests specifically can play in delivering on global and national priorities, including the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change mitigation targets agreed at the UN climate conference in Paris last year.
Secondly, as a very practically oriented program that both maintains a regional vantage point, but is also firmly grounded in the countries we work in, we hope to insert some very real-world examples into high-level events like the Summit to help inform a dialogue about practical actions needed to help forestry sectors achieve their potential.
How did RAFT do that?
For our parallel session, we were able to bring together a panel of speakers from 3 of the countries we work in – Indonesia, Lao PDR and Myanmar – to talk about the importance and the potential of forestry sectors in delivering climate change mitigation, inclusive economic growth and good governance respectively. These experts and forestry stakeholders not only made the case for why timber producing forests matter, but also gave specific examples of how actions happening in the forest sector can have and are having impacts beyond forestry, with significance for the economy and society as a whole.
What were the key take-aways?
If I think about what stood out to me, I guess I would highlight 4 main things:
Timber producing forests really do matter. The sheer numbers really illustrate how important timber-producing forest continue to be – 25% of forest globally; or in the case of Indonesia, nearly half of the forest area, with an average of 160 tons of carbon per hectare!
REDD+ can be an entry point for cross-sectoral approaches to sustainable development. In Indonesia the idea of REDD+ as a “national approach with sub-national implementation” is being translated into reality in East Kalimantan through a broad multistakeholder working group – including central and local government, universities, NGOs, local communities and the private sector, among others – that is having a real impact on policy, including the integration of sustainability in development planning for that Province through the Green Growth Compact (GGC) initiative, launched in May 2016.
The potential contribution of the wood products sector to poverty alleviation in the region is significant and far from fully explored. There is clearly an important role for added-value wood products manufacturing in delivering inclusive economic growth in countries like Lao PDR and Myanmar, including the potential to create more jobs, but also higher returns, noting the opportunities created by the growth of new consumer markets in Asia and the potential for niche products and uses for lesser known species that has not been fully explored and requires further investment and consideration.
Efforts to improve forest governance can teach us what it really takes to turn the idea of participatory decision-making into reality. We talk about the need for participatory/multi-stakeholder approaches all the time, but getting to a point where participants with different perspectives and experiences are able to communicate and work together constructively from a basis of shared understanding requires a lot of work and investment, especially in a country like Myanmar with a long history of centralized decision-making. Before even getting to the point of being able to grapple with issues like defining legality in the forestry sector and creating more opportunities for local communities to manage and benefit from the forest in Myanmar, it will be necessary to create the conditions for constructive communication that must be a foundation for more democratic and better governance for the country as a whole.
But let’s also hear from our speakers themselves:
Ari Wibowo, Senior Researcher, Forest Research & Development Agency (FORDA), Indonesia, on the importance of sustainable forest management in meeting Indonesia’s climate change mitigation targets.
Thongsavanh Soulignamat, President, Lao Wood Processing Industry Association, on the role of the private sector in helping Lao PDR achieve more inclusive economic growth.
U Barber Cho, Secretary, Myanmar Forest Certification Committee (MFCC), on the importance of the forestry sector in Myanmar’s broader efforts to move toward more democratic rule and better governance.