For the first time in the history of AFoCO, the Parties’ Representatives met virtually for the Assembly.
The 4th Session of the Assembly was held on 25-26 November 2020. Representatives and delegates from 12 Parties and 1 Observer shed light on the event, including Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, and Singapore. The 4th Session of the Assembly adopted 7 decisions.
Despite the new normal taken into our lives after COVID-19, AFoCO made efforts to minimize compromise in the operations. Earlier this year, Mongolia has deposited its instrument and Malaysia officially delivered its intention to become a Party. This session was the first Session convened after having all 15 countries that engaged in the dialogue for the establishment of AFoCO as Parties and Observers.
The Assembly celebrated many remarkable achievements during this year. With outstanding and relentless support by all 13 Parties and 2 Observers, AFoCO mainstreamed its vision and mission into the global arena, by applying for Observer status of the United National General Assembly.
It was also remarkable to celebrate the introduction of the organization’s Resource Mobilization Strategy. Comprehensively, the Assembly enjoyed and welcomed the strategy in mobilizing resources from identified new and diverse sources. The Secretariat applied for granting ODA-eligibility status to the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD-DAC). The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is at its first stage of assessment for AFoCO. Much tackling efforts against climate change, the Assembly further welcomed an idea to explore the GCF’s Readiness and Preparatory Support Program.
The Assembly explored a new cross-level approach and cooperation to increase the member countries’ policy relevance in facilitating project formulation and resource mobilization process. In governance, member countries welcomed an idea to have communication platforms, including policy archive, consolidation of the country profile, and policy updates. The high-level annual thematic dialogue will be the main arena to review and update the policy. Simultaneously, the Annual Technical Workshop will work as the technical body to collect on-site situations and views provided by the project implementing agencies in reviewing the project performance and management strategies.
Pearls of the Assembly’s wisdom paved the road for the forthcoming years, particularly for establishment a subsidiary body. More blended education and training programs will be created and operated by the AFoCO Regional Education and Training Center in response to post-COVID-19 era. Member countries also expected that the RETC will be the hub to accumulate and share forest and forestry knowledge.
The Assembly also welcomed new projects in Lao PDR and Timor-Leste, with a total project budget of USD 2.1 million for the next 5 years.
The forest sector in Asia possesses the immense potential to contribute to the COVID-19 recovery plan by harnessing cooperative interactions between human health, resilient forest landscape, and sustainable livelihood. The Secretariat will promote and advocate forest-based actions in the context of building a more resilient world after the COVID-19 and greening the COVID recovery packages. Respecting the member countries’ local conditions, the Assembly shared a view on the coping measures, such as the application of premium communication tools and equipment to keep project stakeholders updated on responses.
The Assembly looked forward to the great opportunities at FAO’s 15th World Forest Congress hosted by the Korea Forest Service, Republic of Korea in May 2021.
As Mr. Chencho Norbu is successfully completing his two-year marvelous term as the first Executive Director, the Assembly warmly extended appreciation. As the first Executive Director, he contributed immensely to set up the operational framework and visibility of the organization.
The Assembly will be welcoming Mr. Ricardo L. Calderon from the Philippines as the incoming Executive Director.
The Assembly also welcomed Bhutan as the President and Myanmar as the Vice President of the Assembly. AFoCO will continue to carry on the organizational vision and mission to contribute to resilient forests, landscapes, and communities in the Asian region.