ASEAN-Korea forest co-op to have 4 new members

National 2 minutes, 34 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE ASEAN-Republic of Korea Forest Cooperation (AFoCo), of which Brunei is a member, is finalising arrangements to allow for the inclusion of four new countries as part of its plan to establish the Asian Forest Cooperation Organisation (AFoCO).

The four countries are Mongolia, Timor Leste, Kazakhstan and Bhutan. Existing AFoCo members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea.

Members of the governing council for the Agreement on ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation are holding their 8th Governing Council meeting from March 29-31. The opening ceremony took place yesterday.

The meeting’s co-chairman, Dr Henry Bastaman, in an interview with The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the meeting’s opening ceremony said they have until August to finalise the arrangement to expand the scope to the four countries.

Dr Henry is the Director General for the Research, Development and Innovation Agency under Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

“We will finalise the arrangements here (at the council meeting). We are confident that we will conclude the meeting with a positive agreement,” he said.

Another co-chairman, Dr Yongkwan Kim, said the council meeting was important to ensure the smooth transition of the cooperation in terms of the alignment of projects with the addition of the four new countries. The meeting was also held to oversee ongoing programmes and projects under AFoCo as well as approve new projects.

“We have many projects in respective countries. Therefore, we need to know (about these projects). We also have to discuss what kind of future projects are in store for the four countries,” said Dr Kim, who is the director-general of the International Affairs Bureau under the Korea Forest Services.

Dr Hj Abdul Manaf Hj Metussin, permanent secretary at Brunei’s Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, in his opening remarks said Brunei recognised the close relationship between ASEAN member states and South Korea under the AFoCo Agreement.

“Brunei appreciates the efforts done by Korea, which has been noted as a model country for global sustainability and for its continuous support by sharing its technology and experience to achieve our common vision of sustainable development.

“The Forestry Department under the purview of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism’s strategic direction focuses on four elements – growth, productivity, exports and sustainability. I am sure that the ministry’s new strategies are in line with AFoCo’s initiatives and programmes toward a sustainable developed country,” he said.

The ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation (AFoCo) is a regional cooperation mechanism in the forest sector between ASEAN member states and South Korea. It was officially established under the AFoCo Agreement signed at the 14th ASEAN-ROK Summit on November 18, 2011 in Bali, Indonesia.

AFoCo was initiated as the first step taken following South Korea’s proposal in 2009 for the establishment of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organisation (AFoCO).

The AFoCo Agreement, which entered into force on August 5, 2012, aims to promote rehabilitation of degraded lands and sustainable forest management and combat desertification. It also provides a platform for AFoCO to be broadened to other Asian countries.

The Brunei Times