UN-FAO taps SEARCA for Palawan green project

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) is developing a pioneering jurisdictional-level platform for Palawan province for the management and monitoring of forest landscape and climate finance investments.

Glenn Gregorio, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) director, said the UN-FAO has commissioned Searca to lead the project. UN-FAO will fund the project.

Gregorio said forests play a crucial role in climate change mitigation both as a sink and a source of carbon, and to achieve significant emissions reduction. He added that investment in forest landscape and climate finance is needed to support scalable approaches and programs such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

“Private investor engagement is key to the sustainability of environmental efforts and thus the demonstration of profitable business models for forest restoration that target environmental and social benefits is needed to engage the private sector as investors, service providers or implementers beyond their corporate social responsibility advocacy,” Gregorio said.

Rico Ancog, Searca program lead for Emerging Innovation for Growth, said the key to achieving the objective of REDD+ is a correct determination of the scale of crediting for emissions reduction from the forest sector, with entire jurisdictions likely to be the optimal scale because only governments have the main authority to regulate land use change.

Also an associate professor of University of the Philippines Los Baños, Ancog said that in the UN-FAO project, the operational example of a jurisdictional-level platform being developed for Palawan is “to support quantitative evaluation for forest monitoring and forest leveraging and landscape climate finance at the jurisdictional scale.”

He said the project will assess the viability of Palawan to follow a jurisdictional sustainability (JS) approach and identify potential financing sources, and the Searca project, specifically, is to determine if Palawan has the components to operationalize JS; the gaps of JS and climate investment and how to address them; the government’s role in the implementation of JS; and the comparative approaches versus reforestation and afforestation management and the REDD+ approach.

Daniel Nepstad, president of Earth Innovation Institute based in Berkeley, California, said JS is achieved when the entire political region also coincides with the correct ecological scale of a given environmental problem and completes the transition to sustainable development.

Ancog said the jurisdictional-level platform being developed will facilitate the analysis of multi-stakeholders and the layers of the government to provide sufficient information to the private sector on how their investment will be managed and monitored to align corporate governance to that of forest conservation vis-à-vis climate change mitigation initiatives.
Ancog said one of the initial takeaways of the project is the ability to find solutions to forest management challenges that were effectively analyzed based on the correct ecological scale.

“In turn, such solutions for climate change mitigation must be designed not just in response to gaps in knowledge and awareness gaps, but also to impediments in governance,” he said adding that for climate change initiatives to balance environmental conservation and economic development, governance innovations are needed, in particular, with different forms of forest resource tenure.