In times of crisis, we need vision and tools to guide us. As we strive to adapt and accelerate our work to serve forest communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, we rely on RECOFTC’s 2018–2023 Strategic Plan for guidance. Launched in October 2018, our Strategic Plan establishes a clear vision: We believe in a future where empowered people live equitably and sustainably in and beside healthy, resilient forests.
To achieve our vision, we serve the poorest and most marginalized rural communities in the Asia-Pacific, where more than 450 million people depend on forests to survive. In collaboration with our partners, we support Indigenous Peoples, ethnic groups and other marginalized and vulnerable people, particularly women and youth. We help them build their capacity to secure their rights to land and resources, stop deforestation, restore degraded landscapes, overcome poverty and hunger and foster gender equity and social inclusion.
Our Strategic Plan focuses our energy and investments on achieving four strategic goals that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
- Landscape collaboration in a changing climate: Rights of local people in forest landscapes are protected and exercised through collaborative management. Local people will manage forests integrated together with other sectors within their landscapes to meet climate change mitigation commitments and address adaptation challenges and opportunities as part of their livelihood strategies.
- Governance, institutions and conflict transformation: Governments, the private sector, communities and others in forest landscapes adhere to the principles of good governance, which include being accountable for their actions and transparent in their processes. RECOFTC will strengthen relationships through mutually beneficial strategies and develop appropriate skills and responsive services to prevent and transform forest-based conflicts through strong institutions, relationships, strategies and services.
- Private sector engagement and enterprising communities: The economic value of forests and landscapes for communities is increased through sustainable investment, community-based enterprises, certification schemes and/or mutually beneficial partnerships between governments and large-scale private sector and community enterprises.
- Social inclusion, gender equity and public action: Rights, capacities and economic opportunities of women and other marginalized people are enhanced. Public awareness is raised, and norms and behaviours are changed to support people-centred forests and land policies.
We are making progress towards achieving our goals. Since 2018, when we launched our Strategic Plan for 2018–2023, the area of forest managed by communities in RECOFTC's focal countries has increased by 51 percent, from 8.2 million to 12.4 million hectares. We are almost at the target of 14 million hectares we aimed to achieve with partners by 2023. The number of households managing community forests rose from 4.2 million to 7.3 million, according to government data in RECOFTC's focal countries. This exceeds the target we set in our five-year strategy. We have also enhanced the capacity of representatives from nearly 1,000 organizations to promote participation, dialogue and conflict resolution in forest governance. This achievement represents 40 percent of the target we aimed to attain by the end of 2023.
RECOFTC’s Strategic Plan does more than set direction. It also formalizes our values that determine our priorities and approaches. I am proud to say that our values guide us as we respond to COVID-19. Our highest priorities in this time of crisis are the well-being of our employees, the communities we serve and our partners on the ground. We are working remotely to ensure the safety of employees and communities. We are adapting and expanding our work to ensure that the world’s solutions to two global emergencies, COVID-19 and climate change, respect the rights and aspirations of forest communities and promote their well-being.
RECOFTC core values
I believe the stories we share in this annual report demonstrate that we are organized and able to meet these challenges. You will meet RECOFTC’s alumni who were inspired by our early training to use community forestry as the entry point for making significant changes in the policies, forests and lives of forest communities in their home countries. You will learn how there is a growing movement to improve forest governance in the Mekong region and that the voices of communities are increasingly considered as governments make and revise forest laws. You will read about young journalists reporting on forest issues, gender champions reshaping the forest sector and forest communities and user groups forming their own influential associations to attain their aspirations.
These and other stories show how community forestry builds the planet’s and humanity’s resilience to pandemic diseases and climate change, as well as our ability to overcome poverty and foster a just, equal and inclusive society.
We are grateful to all the RECOFTC employees and partners who made the achievements behind these stories possible and to our sponsors and donors who share our vision.