The National Forum to Strengthen Policies and Opportunities for Forest Investment in the Philippines was coorganized by ITTO, FAO, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines, and the Forest Management Bureau, and it took place in the city of Manila from 12-14 August 2009.
The main objective of the Forum was to discuss and evaluate constraints and barriers in forest investment and how these can be addressed or resolved in order to attract more forest investments in the country by formulating a National Action Plan that will guide the efforts of the government, the private sector and the civil society in order to enhance the economic returns from the forest. • The Forum was attended by a total of 143 participants from the government, private sector, the academy, development and commercial banks;
• The Forum was opened by Mr. Jose L. Atienza, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines;
• Keynote presentations were given by:
- World Bank (who congratulated ITTO and the consultant for the background document),
- Asian Development Bank,
- Development Bank of the Philippines,
- Land Bank,
- The Philippines Wood Producer Association (PWPA) • Participants made recommendations in 3 working groups: Policy, Traditional Investment and Financial Mechanisms, and Innovative Investment Mechanisms;
• At the end of the Forum, an Action Plan was adopted in the present of 3 Undersecretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the General Director of the
Forest Management Bureau (FMB). The Action Plan provides recommendations based on the discussion of the Working Groups, main recommendations are related to:
- Remove policy constrains in order to improve the business climate of the country:
- Duration of land tenure arrangements for plantations of 25 years,
- Approval of pending rationalizations plans for the industry,
- Establishment of a Forest Industry Development Board,
- Establish a performance base incentive for forest industries.
- Improvement of traditional investment and financial mechanism:
- Develop an assessment of potential areas for investment,
- Work with the banks so tenure agreements can be used as collaterals for credits,
- Establish a more proactive dialogue with the banking institutions (profitability of plantations, management criteria, etc.),
- Reinvestment of fees and taxes collected in the forestry sector.
- Innovative Financial mechanism:
- Establishment of a Forest Fund,
- Operate a national certifications system,
- Link tree growers with institutions responsible for reforestation or CSR,
- Explore the options of establish investment in forestry with the Philippine’s Pension Fund, who during the Forum expressed interest in this regard.