Member states, civil society organisations (CSOs), and community representatives from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region have come together in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, for a series of meetings under the ASEAN Social Forestry Network and the theme "Enhancing Livelihood and Conservation Benefits from Social Forestry towards a Green ASEAN Community".
From 21-23 May, Holly Jonas (Natural Justice) joined more than 50 ASEAN-based organisations in the 3rd Annual CSO Forum, which was hosted by the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP), Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The CSO Forum reviewed implementation of country-level roadmaps, shared support strategies, and developed working papers (on community economies and livelihoods, forest tenure and access rights, safeguards, and governance mechanisms) as the basis of CSO engagement in the 5th ASEAN Social Forestry Network Conference that followed on 24-25 May. The CSO Forum underscored that Indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities are "partners, not threats" in forest conservation and that secure land and resource tenure are essential prerequisites to conservation and livelihoods alike.
The 5th Conference began with welcoming remarks from a range of dignitaries from the ASEAN Secretariat and Sabahan and Malaysian governments and opening presentations on perspectives on cooperation in ASEAN forestry, a situation analysis of ASEAN social forestry (based on a new report by the Center for People and Forests), challenges in promoting and realising social forestry goals in ASEAN. It also included parallel sessions on the following topics:
- Local Engagement in Social Forestry for Forest Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation; and
- Social Forestry for Food Security, Community Economy and Partnerships.
Under the first topic, Holly Jonas presented alongside Samson Pedragosa (Philippine Association for Intercultural Development) on Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) in a session on "Equity in Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation".
From 27-28 May, government officials from ASEAN member states will convene for the 8th ASEAN Social Forestry Network meeting, which is expected to endorse a number of recommendations that emerged from the CSO Forum and Conference.
|Participants in the CSO Forum. Photo courtesy of Atama Kitama/JOAS.|