National Forest Programmes
In order to address environmental issues effectively, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (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.
The concept of national forest programmes is based on the “Forest Principles”, agreed at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 in Rio as the first global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. During the Interngovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) 1995-1998, the international community has agreed to use nfp as the major forest policy and planning framework at national level as outlined in the proposals for action of the IPF and of its successor, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF). With the adoption of the Non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests (N-LBI) by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2007, all countries now are called upon to develop and implement nfps to achieve the objectives of the N-LBI.
An nfp constitutes a participatory, holistic, inter-sectoral and iterative process of policy planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation at national and subnational level with the objective of sustainable forest management (SFM) as a contribution to sustainable development. Nfps are country-specific, though following specific principles:
- National sovereignty and country leadership with a clear commitment to SFM and assuming responsibility for global concerns while strengthening coordination of international support to advance the country-driven nfp process;
- Consistency within and beyond the forest sector addressing decentralization and devolution efforts as well as integrating SFM into overarching processes at the national level such as national strategies for sustainable development, relevant national action plans and poverty reduction strategies;
- Partnership and participation with a view of finding consensus among stakeholders, resolving conflicts and building alliances, paired with transparency and public accountability.
Nfp processes are flexible in integrating new challenges and policy agendas deriving from the international discussion, such as FLEG(T) and REDD. They combine protection and sustainable use of natural resources with economic and social development, thus reflecting key intentions of the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Declaration on Environmental Sustainability.
ASEAN Member States are commited to the formulation and implementation of nfps as the agreed framework for improving forest governance. Some Member States have already developed national forest programmes, others are in the process. In the ASEAN Experts Group on International Forest Policy Processes (AEG-IFPP) they exchange information, experiences, best practices and lessons learnt on country approaches and mechanisms related to the implementation of their nfp processes. For this purpose, the AEG-IFPP has developed specific tools such as the ASEAN Guideline for the implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action, and conducted nfp related capacity building.