Sustaining an Abundance of Forest and Ecosystems (SAFE) Project: Kick-off Meeting of Output 1 Highlights

In a pivotal step towards environmental conservation and sustainable forest management, the Kick-off Meeting of Output 1 for the project titled “Sustaining an Abundance of Forest and Ecosystems (SAFE) “ convened on October 13, 2023.

The SAFE Project, a collaborative initiative between the Korea Forest Service and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endeavors to conserve and restore vulnerable forest ecosystems with high biodiversity values in selected Asian countries. These include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Bhutan (from 2024), with a focus on endangered tree species listed on the IUCN Red List. While UNEP oversees overall leadership and coordination, AFoCO, as a partner, assumes responsibility for managing Output 1, specifically concentrating on conserving and restoring vulnerable forest ecosystems in the designated Asian countries. Spanning from 2023 to 2030, the project aims to support local action, enhance livelihoods, and build capacities for sustainable forest management.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Park Junghwan, the senior project manager of the AFoCO secretariat, the meeting aimed to introduce key participants involved in the project, provide a comprehensive project overview, discuss site selection criteria, address inquiries, and outline plans for upcoming technical workshops. Key participants present at the meeting included Mr. Orlando Panganiban, lead consultant for the SAFE Project, Mr. Thuch Phalla (In-country Consultant for Cambodia), Mr. Xaysompheng Sengkhamyong (In-country Consultant for Lao PDR), and Dr. Quynh Dang (In-country Consultant for Viet Nam).

The AFoCO secretariat was well-represented by Mr. Sunpil Jin, Vice Executive Director, who delivered a notable remark, emphasizing the lasting impact that the project seeks to achieve. Other prominent figures from the AFoCO Secretariat included Dr. Pham Duc Chien (Director of Program and Project Division), Ms. YoungJu Han (Project Management Coordinator), and Ms. Minyoung Jeong (Assistant Program Officer).

During the Kick-off Meeting, Mr. Orlando Panganiban comprehensively covered pivotal aspects of the project, laying the groundwork for the impactful journey ahead. The presentation addressed project goals, Output 1 scope, ToR roles, site selection, guide questions, and outlined plans for an upcoming technical workshop. His overview provided a clear understanding of the project’s overarching objectives, defining the path forward. The interactive question-and-answer session that followed the presentation provided In-country consultants with a platform to seek clarification and share insights, fostering collaboration among team members. Also, participants explored the prospect of hosting a regional technical workshop in Viet Nam in early December 2023.

In closing, the Kick-off Meeting of Output 1 marked a significant milestone in the launch of the SAFE project, reinforcing its commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable forest management. The Secretariat eagerly looks forward to the successful realization of project goals through the dedication and expertise of all stakeholders involved.

Submitted by Ms. Minyoung Jeong, Assistant Program Officer

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