More than 1,200 participants from over 40 countries across Asia-Pacific attended the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS 2018) from 23 to 25 April in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The event was hosted by the Indonesian Government, with the support of the Australian Government and in partnership with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Under the theme ‘Protecting forests and people, supporting economic growth,’ this regional event focused on conservation, livelihoods and investment. The main focus was to analyse practical ways in which forest policies and actions can contribute to each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
One of the central topics discussed was how to operationalise REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) in the region. Panelists agreed that it is necessary to include the private sector, financial institutions and other stakeholders at the very beginning of the process, during the policy-making stage.
It is also essential to make forests more attractive for investment by boosting transparency and the rule of law and defining land ownership. In addition, agriculture and forestry companies need incentives so they can balance productivity with ecological protection.
Many participants and delegates showed interest in the session discussing the role of finance, investment and trade in forest conservation and restoration. One of the conclusions of the panels was that funds are available, but it is hard to connect them to desirable investment opportunities. It is also challenging for projects to receive the funds.
Currently, several approaches to innovative finance tools are being tried, including ecosystem bonds and forest bonds. The lessons learned so far from these experiences are that conservation needs to be a fundamental part of market values — particularly related to sustainable commodities — and that climate finance should focus on projects that might require high investments but will have a large impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Countries in the region are increasingly recognising the importance community forests have in avoiding deforestation. At the summit, delegates discussed policy and implementation solutions to support social forestry and community forestry. Panelists highlighted the shift in this field, which has expanded from focusing only on the community to including broader issues, such as linking these initiatives to finance institutions and markets.
At the ground level, some examples showed that social forestry and community forestry could also be the answer to land tenure issues. The event called for innovative approaches to community forestry that follow inclusive business models, to ensure equity and the fair sharing of profits. Panelists also reminded participants of the need to consider the possible social and conservation impacts of community forestry projects.
Mangroves and ‘blue carbon’ were highlighted at the event as a potential tool to be included in Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contributions. Experts pointed out that mangroves could also serve as a financial incentive to prevent deforestation under the mechanism of payments for ecosystem services. In both cases, ‘blue carbon’ will need to be incorporated into coastal spatial planning systems and local communities’ economic viability mechanisms.