ASEAN Policy Framework for Forestry Cooperation
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999. Policy coordination and decision-making on regional cooperation in the forest sector is the task of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF) guided by the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF).
The overall policy framework is set by the ASEAN Charter, ratified in December 2008, as well as the ASEAN Community Blueprints which define ASEAN’s strategy for the short to medium-term until 2015. Food, agriculture and forestry is one important component of ASEAN’s objective to create a single market and production base as laid down in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, adopted by the ASEAN Summit in November 2007. The AEC Blueprint sets targets and timelines to develop a regional reference framework on a phased-approach to forest certification by 2015 which is the task of the ASEAN Working Group on a Pan-ASEAN Timber Certification Initiative (AWG-C).
In the Blueprint for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), to be adopted by the forthcoming ASEAN Summit, ensuring environmental sustainability is a major area. This includes, among others, intensified regional cooperation on global environmental issues, conservation of biological diversity, as well as promotion of sustainable forest management (SFM) and eradication of unsustainable practices including combating illegal logging and its associated trade. In order to address environmental issues effectively, the ASCC Blueprint calls for a holistic approach in regional cooperation. In forest policy, ASEAN Member States have been pursuing a comprehensive policy approach by implementing the concept of national forest programmes (nfp). In order to achieve SFM, nfp has been the framework for the work of the ASOF and their expert and working groups.
Further basic policy documents include the ASEAN Vision 2020, released in December 1997, which underlines the region’s commitment for a common understanding to “promote the forestry sector as a model in forest management, conservation and sustainable development”. This Vision is further elaborated through the adopted Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II) in October 2003 where ASEAN underscores its commitment to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The ASEAN Vision 2020 calls for the promotion of forestry as a model for sustainable development by harmonizing environmental, social, and economic policies between the 10 Member States. Creating conditions favorable to SFM – an entry point for governance reform – is a key national and regional public management challenge.
Currently, the ASOF are in the process of reviewing their mid-term regional strategy which is the ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action in Forestry (SPA-F) 2004 – 2010. It serves as the collective framework in implementing joint actions towards the overall goal of SFM. The SPA-F was endorsed by the AMAF in October 2004 in Yangon, Myanmar, as a part of the Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry. The strategy is to be updated in line with the new policy directions provided by the ASEAN Community Blueprints.