PEOPLE FOR PEAT CELEBRATES END OF FOUR-YEAR JOURNEY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Apr 11, 2023 by Irene ChooiBanner Image By : Adrihani Rashid PFP
Jakarta, Indonesia: The People for Peat (PFP) coalition marked the conclusion of its four-year journey in supporting peatland communities in Southeast Asia (SEA) with a closing ceremony in Central Jakarta on 11th April 2023.
Emotions ran high as researchers, peat rangers, Business Hub members, and friends from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines gathered for one last time under the PFP umbrella. Representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), European Union’s Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN (EU-SUPA) Component 1 project, as well as Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA) project also attended the event.
“I am deeply honoured to stand before you today as we come together to reflect on PFP’s accomplishments, address the challenges we've faced, and envision our path forward,” said Thibaut Portevin, the Head of Cooperation for EU Delegation to Indonesia/ASEAN during his opening speech, “I extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this project, particularly the local communities that welcomed us into their lives. Your dedication, hard work, and passion have made a lasting impact on peatland management and conservation.”
Throughout its four years, the PFP project has celebrated many milestones and achievements across its three pillars - Research, Business and Investment, Outreach and Advocacy - but also faced many challenges, chiefly the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the world ground to a halt, PFP pivoted to online engagements, successfully organising virtual symposiums, interactive online workshops, and two popular photo contests. While borders remained closed, PFP built bridges and nurtured relationships with local partners and experts, resulting in the successful execution of the Peat Ranger Training Programme and subsequent Peat Ranger Deployment when regional travel resumed.
“The Peat Ranger programme has been great for our community,” said Ronnie Villaber, a peat ranger and Business Hub cohort member from the Philippines, “Before this, we had no idea how important peatlands were, but now I can see change. Poaching has lessened and the use of electric currents for catching fish is minimised.”
The PFP coalition has also helped 16 peat-related businesses across the region take their initiatives to the next level through the PFP Business Hub, a business accelerator focused on improving the sustainability of members on three fronts: environmental protection, economic productivity, and social inclusion.
“Pesona Kalbar Hijau has learned a lot from the Business Hub programme and we have transferred that knowledge to the farmers we work with. We also learned that business processes should be in line with conservation,” explained Business Hub cohort member Dede Purwansyah from Indonesia.
PFP’s Research pillar addressed the gap in data on ASEAN’s peatlands and culminated in the celebrated Peat Science Dialogue which took place in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in March 2023. The Peatland Outlook Handbook - a critical overview of SEA’s peatlands, covering its distribution, legal frameworks and challenges - was also published at the event and treasured by researchers.
The Peatland Tales video series - a collection of videos highlighting the peatlands of Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and the Philippines - also immortalised the indomitable spirit of community leaders on the ground who have worked tirelessly to protect peatlands and preserve them for future generations.
As the PFP project draws to a close, today's event finalised project recommendations and a policy brief on sustainable peatland management, which will serve as a blueprint, especially concerning non-state actors for future efforts in the sustainable management of peatlands in Southeast Asia.
Moving forward, the PFP project recommends the continuous provision of information and data on peatlands in the region, expanded coverage of the ASEAN Haze Portal, ongoing dialogue between state and non-state actors, and the evolution of the PFP coalition to identify new sources of funding and innovative ideas for peatland conservation.
“After four years, the programme has come to an end, but the efforts to promote sustainable use of peatland in ASEAN must continue,” said Nirarta Samadhi, Country Director of WRI Indonesia, “We have developed peopleforpeat.org, a platform that aims to disseminate knowledge and best practices on sustainable peatland management in Southeast Asia. It is our aspiration that this platform shall be established as a centre of excellence for peatland in the region, while simultaneously serving to encourage more non-state actors to enhance their efforts in realizing sustainable peatland management and haze mitigation in the coming years.”
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People for Peat
The European Union’s Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN (EU-SUPA) Component 2 programme is implemented by the People for Peat coalition comprised of the World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia, the Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre (TRCRC), and the Yayasan Inisiatif Dagang Hijau (IDH).
The coalition of ‘People for Peat’ (PFP) will serve as a platform to coordinate peatland management and haze mitigation efforts across eight ASEAN countries; Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao PDR. The activities will revolve around three pillars of data and information, business and investment, and outreach and advocacy. The intended goal is to improve the ability of non-state actors (NSAs) such as local communities, private sector entities, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), research institutions, and financial institutions, so they can make peatland management more sustainable and thus mitigating fires and haze in the ASEAN region.
Over the next four years, PFP is looking to build a network of local and regional partnerships with smallholder farmers, CSOs, and private sector businesses working on peatlands. PFP believes that the partnerships will open up opportunities for alternative businesses within peatlands, including funding, and investment in innovative and sustainable peatland management practices.