Mekong REDD+ Project Embarks with its Project Inception and the 1st Project Management Committee Meetings

The Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), together with the esteemed collaboration of Woori Bank and Forestry Administration of Cambodia, has proudly initiated the Project Inception Meeting (PIM) and 1st Project Management Committee (PMC) Meeting for the Mekong REDD+ Project P1. This pivotal event, held on March 14, 2024, marks the beginning of a journey towards sustainable forest management and a concerted effort in carbon reduction in Cambodia’s Mekong region.

The esteemed Chair, Dr. Pham Duc Chien, Director of AFoCO, led the proceedings with insightful observations, emphasizing the synergy between sustainable forestry practices and climate resilience. In his address, Dr. Chien lauded the collaborative spirit and the expertise brought forth by the project partners, highlighting the vital roles of the Woori Bank and the Korea Forestry Promotion Institute (KOFPI). He acknowledged the indispensable support and collaboration of the Cambodian Forestry Administration and the Mekong Forestry Cooperation Center (KMFCC).

Mr. Chheang Dany, Deputy Director General of the Forestry Administration of Cambodia, offered an enthusiastic welcome, articulating the project’s collective vision. He outlined the critical roles of key players across multiple sectors and continents, illustrating the project as a paragon of inter-agency and public-private partnership. With a clear dual mission, the Mekong REDD+ Project aims to combat deforestation and enhance sustainable livelihoods for community forest groups, safeguarding both human and wildlife species—the latter including those listed on the IUCN Red List and prioritized for conservation in Cambodia. The project, underscored by a Memorandum of Understanding between the Forestry Administration, Woori Bank, and AFoCO, is a testimony to the private sector’s engagement in environmental governance, mirroring Woori Bank’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Hyunjoo Lee, General Manager of the ESG Management and Finance Planning Division at Woori Bank, shared her enthusiasm for the transformative potential of the project, noting Cambodia’s strategic importance to the bank’s global endeavors. The project promises to be a flagship model for REDD+ initiatives worldwide, buoyed by the support of stakeholders in Korea. Embracing a Korean proverb that reflects the transformative power of time, the Mekong REDD+ Project is seen as a 30-year commitment to molding the Steung Treng region into a sustainable and thriving environment for future generations. The inception meeting set the foundation for aligned visions and objectives among the partners.

The inception meeting not only reviewed the project management issues and adopted the Record of Discussion but also offered an opportunity for all partners to align their vision and objectives. With the effective collaboration of AFoCO and the dedication of Woori Bank, this project is set to pave the way for a greener, more sustainable Mekong region.

Following the Inception Meeting, AFoCO’s PMC Meeting brought together key stakeholders, including the AFoCO secretariat, representatives from the Cambodia Forestry Administration, Woori Bank, and Project Management Unit (PMU). The committee discussed the annual work plan and budget for 2024, highlighting the project’s strategic activities planned for the Steung Treng province.

Mr. Chheang Dany representing the committee as the Chair, commenced the meeting by affirming the agenda, which included the adoption of meeting procedures, presentation of the annual work and budget plan, and other significant matters pertaining to the project’s progress. A consensus-based approach marked the adoption of the meeting agenda, setting a collaborative tone for the discussions ahead.

Mr. Sungho Choi, Team Leader of the Carbon Team at the AFoCO Secretariat presented the rules and procedures for the PMC, emphasizing the importance of coordination, guidance, and decision-making for effective project implementation. Notably, Woori Bank’s proposal to participate in the technical working group was welcomed, expanding the breadth of expertise within the project’s execution framework.

The PMU unveiled a meticulous plan for 2024, detailing initiatives to enhance forest land tenure security, improve community livelihoods, and increase carbon sequestration. The presentations sparked insightful discussions on optimizing budget allocations, particularly towards activities that bolster carbon stock recovery—an area highlighted by Mr. Chheang Dany, for its significance to the project’s carbon objectives.

Commitments were made to increase the visibility of the project’s achievements, emphasizing the importance of engaging with the public and ensuring transparency. A proposed signboard installation ceremony in Steung Treng is set to symbolize the project’s on-the-ground inception.

As the meeting concluded, the committee, chaired by Mr. Chheang Dany, expressed heartfelt gratitude to all members for their constructive dialogue and foresight. It was emphasized that this project is not only a venture for present environmental stewardship but also a blueprint for future initiatives within the Mekong region, aspiring to contribute significantly to the sustainable development goals.

Submitted by Ms. YoungJu Han, Program Officer, Carbon Projects Team

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