The Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2021 is a regional event that aims to showcase opportunities and ambitious solutions from different countries in Asia and the Pacific to climate challenges. Recognizing the critical role of climate finance as a catalyst for large-scale investments for climate adaptation and mitigation interventions, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) organized a side event on "Advancing Jurisdictional Sustainability Approach and its Potential for Climate Financing in Southeast Asia" during the APCW 2021. The side event held on 7 July 2021 via Zoom and Facebook is co-organized by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO), Calamianes Resilience Network (CRN), and University of the Philippines Los Baños – School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB – SESAM).
In his opening message, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration Prof. Joselito G. Florendo said that the forum will present "an emerging and innovative approach to facilitate the provision of climate finance and a collaborative opportunity which necessitates the concerted actions of the private sector, government, and other stakeholders in providing climate financing for climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives." He also mentioned that SEARCA puts high importance in climate resilience under its 11th Five-Year-Plan with the end goal of helping its partner stakeholders and farmers increase their resilience.
Mr. Beau Damen, Climate Change Officer at FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, elaborated that the topic on Jurisdictional Sustainability Approach (JSA) is very timely as it will show us "how to channel resources in a more impactful way to local communities" and how it can help achieve transformational change. He mentioned the importance of JSA in terms leveraging climate finance not just from the national government but also from other players such as private sectors.
Dr. Rico Ancog, SEARCA Operations Consultant for Emerging Innovation for Growth, and Professor and Dean of the University of the Philippines Los Baños-School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) gave an overview of the side event. Dr. Ancog explained that there is an urgency for economy-wide approaches for building landscape resilience and that JSA is potential emerging platform for climate finance. He said that through the side event was designed to contribute in increasing awareness of participants on jurisdictional landscape-based climate finance plans, strengthened the adoption of JSA, and enhanced involvement and investment from the government and private sectors.
The first speaker, Dr. Daniel Nepstad, President and Founder of Earth Innovation Institute based in the USA, defined the jurisdictional sustainability and discussed the financial mechanisms for Jurisdictional REDD+ (J-REDD). He also presented the three types of forest carbon offsets where J-REDD provided the highest impact with low transaction costs. However, he also related that it is also a complex intervention as there are multiple stakeholders involved. Main challenges for J-REDD includes the time it takes to realize the payment/ benefits of reducing deforestation is long and the high dependence on national government permission. He also introduced the Lead Initiative and Green Jurisdictions Database. The former is a program where big international companies and organizations are participating to support carbon offsetting and the latter contains the data collected from countries shifting to jurisdictional approach. He ended the presentation by stressing the importance of private sector participation in making the transition to JSA more viable.
On behalf of the SEARCA Team organized for a FAO-funded project implemented by SEARCA, Dr. Nathaniel Bantayan, Professor and University Scientist I at the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, presented a case study on the feasibility of jurisdictional sustainability approach in Palawan, Philippines. Dr Bantayan presented the forest status of the Philippines which notable decreased from 1575 to 2015 and the absence of the data thereafter. Various policies were put in place to address forest protection and conservation such as the 1) National Greening Program (NGP) which engages multiple stakeholders and implemented at different spatial scales, 2) the Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) that supports the conservation of biodiversity, and the 3) Philippine National REDD+ Strategy (PNRPS) that applies a monitoring system for forest cover. Policy-wise, Palawan, Philippines has enabling policies support forest conservation and a governance structure which both are crucial building blocks for JSA.
The last speaker, Ms. Jeremiah Escatron, Finance Specialist of the USAID BFAR Fish Right Program, Resonance Global, shared their initiatives on strengthening the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities through establishing Marine Protected Area Networks (MPANs) and scaling-up through climate finance. She emphasized that political commitment and will, establishing institutional arrangement, and stakeholder participation are critical enablers to achieving MPANs resilience. She also discussed leveraging on short-term participation in private and public financing initiatives (grant, debt, equity) to strengthen adaptation and long-terms funding by exploring new revenue sources and payment for ecosystem services.
Two discussants shared their insights and ideas on the presentations. Mr. Mathieu van Rijn, Forestry Officer at FAO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, highlighted the importance of combining local initiatives to nested or jurisdictional approaches so the government can clearly understand how jurisdictional mechanisms will contribute to national commitments moving forward. In addition, Mr. Gabriel Eickhoff, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Lestari Capital emphasized how jurisdictional approach can support broader policy interventions and national-level strategies and how it can incentivize the private sector to participate in formulating solutions and in putting financial into appropriate investments.