V4MF Project Launched in Cambodia with Ministry of Environment
Phnom Penh, Cambodia - H.E. Khieu Borin, Director General of Cambodia's Department of Local Community, Ministry of Environment, and H.E. George Edgar, Ambassador to the European Union (EU) in Cambodia launched the Voices for Mekong Forest (V4MF) project on 15 June 2017 in Phnom Penh. Fifty participants from the Ministry of Environment, Mondulkiri Environment Department, Director of Sre Pok wildlife sanctuary, the EU, local community and NGOs took part in the project inception workshop organized by RECOFTC and the project partners WWF and NGO Forum. Co-funded by the EU, the 5-year regional project aims to improve forest governance in the Mekong countries by strengthening civil society.
Director General H.E. Khieu Borin in his opening speech stated the importance of non-state actors' effective participation to achieve good forest governance: "A robust governance system is essential for natural resource management, and the fundamentals of good governance are based on equity, accountability and full participation. To achieve good forest governance, we need to enhance the capacity building of local community and non-state actors so they can engage effectively with government at sub-national and national levels.”
H.E. George Edgar similarly recognized the important role of the civil society organizations and non-state actors for effective and sustainable forest governance and to ensure sustainable livelihoods for rural communities living near the forest. Bringing the knowledge and views of forest dependent communities into forest management processes is essential for the sustainable use and conservation of forests.
According to the V4MF Project Manager Etienne Delattre, “The REDD+ initiative is a significant opportunity for NSAs to become actively involved in government-led forest landscape dialogues and decision making processes. However, governments in the Mekong region still generally follow top-down approaches to forest management and governance. The project focuses on fostering the active participation of a network of capacitated non-state actors in tackling the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the Mekong region. The project is working at regional, national and landscape levels, recognising that efforts to address the challenges facing forest governance in the region need to take a holistic approach. The transboundary focus of this project covers three landscapes across five countries - Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.”
The event was one in a series of national workshops organized following a regional inception workshop held in Bangkok on 3-5 April 2017 with the objective to initiate country-specific baselines for the project in each Mekong country.