As the pressing global concern of climate change intensifies, the world’s focus has converged on collaborative strategies and innovative initiatives. Recently, on December 9, 2023, at UNFCCC COP28, a pivotal side event “Enhancing Climate Action in Asia Forests and Global Stocktake” jointly organized by the Korea Forest Service (KFS) and the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) unfolded. The event spotlighted the crucial role of forests in mitigating and adapting to climate change, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Opening and Introduction
The event commenced with Ms. YoungJu Han from the AFoCO Secretariat setting the stage for urgent climate action. Against the backdrop of the recent IPCC report’s stark warnings, the focus was set on immediate and robust measures outlined in the Paris Agreement. The subsequent sessions aimed to deliberate on the paramount role of forests in combating climate change, accentuating their pivotal contribution in both mitigating and adapting to the far-reaching consequences of this global crisis.
Opening Remarks by Dr. Eunsik Park, Director General of the International Affairs Bureau of KFS
Dr. Eunsik Park emphasized the imperative nature of the UNFCCC COP28, stressing the inadequate implementation of climate policies, particularly in the forestry sector. Park highlighted Korea’s successful reforestation efforts, commemorating their 50th anniversary of national habilitation projects. The commitment to international forest cooperation and AFoCO’s climate action initiatives was underscored, promising collaborative solutions to the global climate crisis.
Welcome Remarks by Mr. Sunpil Jin, Vice Executive Director of AFoCO
Mr. Jin Sunpil expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts in forest restoration, climate adaptation, disaster management, livelihood improvement, and capacity building. The unveiling of AFoCO’s 10-year climate action plan aimed at leveraging forest-based solutions marked a significant step forward in combating climate change in the region.
The event featured four insightful presentations, each shedding light on distinct facets of climate action and forestry cooperation.
1. Introduction to the bilateral REDD+ Cooperation of Korea Forest Service by Ms. Ga-Yeong Kim, REDD+ Coordinator, Korea Forest Service
Ms. Kim’s presentation focused on bilateral REDD+ cooperation in the Asian Mekong region countries. She detailed Korea’s ambitious emission reduction targets and elaborated on pilot projects in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, highlighting their unique approaches and adherence to rigorous standards.
2. Role of Forests to Achieve NDC and International Cooperation by Dr. Oupakone Alounsavath, Deputy Director General, Department of Forestry, Lao PDR
Dr. Oupakone’s presentation outlined Laos’ multi-faceted approach to REDD+ initiatives, emphasizing institutional setups, ongoing projects, and collaborations for sustainable forest management and emissions reduction.
3. Introduction to ACORN Framework to Support Smallholder Farmers Transition to Agroforestry by Dr. Martine Jansen, Head of Partnerships, Rabobank
Dr. Martine’s presentation delved into Rabo Bank’s Acorn proposition, aiming to empower small-scale farmers through agroforestry while linking them to the voluntary carbon market, thereby generating additional income.
4. AFoCO Climate Action Plan and Cooperation with Public and Priavte Partners by Dr. Pham Duc Chien, Director of Program and Project Division
Dr. Chien’s presentation illuminated AFoCO’s Climate Action Plan, focusing on partnerships and cooperation to address climate challenges in Asia. The plan’s milestones, strategic priorities, and ambitious targets for forest restoration were articulated.
The interactive Q&A session saw insightful queries and responses:
Dr. Martine Jansen, Heads of Partnership, Rabobank
- Q. Inquired about the unique framework for supporting smallholders and farmers in the Acorn initiative and the rationale behind its creation.
- A. Explained that existing frameworks didn’t align with their specific objectives, particularly focusing on smallholder-based projects in agroforestry using remote sensing for biomass monitoring. Found complexities in existing methodologies, leading to the development of their own, emphasizing efficiency without compromising quality.
- Q. Raised concerns about not having endorsement or certification from recognized bodies like Verra or Global Standard and its impact on pricing.
- A. Clarified they sell at 35 euros per credit, which is competitive in the voluntary carbon market. Their framework is certified by Plan Vivo, an organization specialized in smallholder projects, aligning with their program approach instead of certifying individual projects.
- Q. Inquired about the geographical scope of their work and if they collaborate beyond their community.
- A. Confirmed operations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, open to collaboration in any country where regulations permit.
Dr. Pham Duc Chien, Director of Programs and Project Division, AFoCO
- Q. Asked about AFoCO’s activities beyond adaptation and digital initiatives.
- A. Outlined AFoCO’s projects focusing on forest restoration, rehabilitation, livelihood improvement, capacity building, disaster management, and forest seedlings breeding for climate-resilient species selection.
Dr. Oupakone Alounsavath, Deputy Director General, Department of Forestry, Lao PDR
- Q. Inquired about the most challenging issues faced by Laos as a host country for REDD+ implementation.
- A. Highlighted technology limitations for MRVS and remote sensing. Addressed the challenge of forest-dependent communities, the need for managing their livelihoods within forests, forest fires due to tropical climate, and limited technology for large forest area accessibility.
The event concluded on a promising note from Dr. Pham Duc Chien, reflecting a shared commitment to combat climate change through collaborative efforts and innovative solutions in the forestry sector. The amalgamation of diverse perspectives and collaborative spirit showcased at the COP 28 side event underscores a beacon of hope in the collective fight against climate change.
Submitted by Ms. YoungJu HAN, Program Officer