Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has signed on behalf of the Philippine government a framework regional agreement seeking to strengthen cooperation for the conservation and sustainable management of forests in Asia.

The Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) Agreement was among the many accords signed by the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent three-day official visit to Seoul, South Korea.

Cimatu expressed hope the agreement, which was earlier signed by 10 other Asian countries, will provide mutual benefits to all parties in terms of forest conservation and sustainable management.

“With the Philippines signing the agreement, this seals our participation and commitment for the stronger regional cooperation towards the sustainable management of forests across Asia,” Cimatu said in his speech during the signing of the AFoCO Agreement by the Philippines on June 4.

“I fervently hope that our ties will be greater, as these from the start are founded from mutual trust and respect, mutual understanding and mutual benefits,” he added.

AFoCO is an intergovernmental organization in Asia aiming to strengthen regional forest cooperation by transforming proven technology and policies into concrete actions in the context of sustainable forest management to address the impact of climate change.

As the initial phase of AFoCO, a cooperation mechanism of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea Forest Cooperation was formalized by the Agreement signed during the 14th ASEAN-ROK Summit in Bali, Indonesia, in 2011. The Seoul-based ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation has been operational since 2012.

AFoCO facilitates forest cooperation between ASEAN countries and ROK focusing on action-oriented field activities while ensuring synergies and complementation of existing cooperation, regional and international organizations.

Of the 11 Asian countries that have signed the agreement, five have already submitted their ratification and depositary. This brought the agreement into force on April 27.

Aside from the Philippines and South Korea, other Asian nations that signed the forest cooperation agreement are Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Bhutan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Mongolia and Laos. ###