November 20, 2023

Forest Foundation and NCIP to Facilitate Sustainable Nature Financing in Ancestral Domains

Manila, Philippines – Forest Foundation Philippines and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) launched their first collaboration project, titled “Improving Philippine Policy on the Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Benefit Sharing for Forest Carbon Projects” (FPIC-BS Policy Project). It will strengthen NCIP’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Guidelines by including  provisions that will facilitate sustainable nature financing for forest carbon projects in ancestral domains.

The 5-million pesos project will run for nine months, and will equip policymakers at NCIP with an in-depth understanding of policy implications of carbon projects and market standards, resulting in the strengthening of the FPIC Guidelines that establishes environmental and social safeguards, and facilitate forest carbon-sharing benefits for indigenous peoples and their ancestral domains.

As the global economy accelerates its efforts to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, there is growing demand to protect and conserve forests within ancestral domains. In recent years, the expanding carbon market has reached the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, where new venture capitalists have been reported to engage with communities, especially the indigenous groups.

Atty. Gillian Dunuan, Director of the Legal Affairs Office of NCIP, shared, “Lately, we’ve been receiving REDD+ projects, agroforestry, and even renewable energy projects with reforestation and protection components with provisions in their agreement stating that communities will benefit once the company trades carbon credits from its reforestation projects. Our concern is if our FPIC guidelines are sufficient to secure the rights of our IPs when it comes to carbon credits, and if our processes are adequate.” 

“It’s the first time that forests are receiving so much attention and financing. It may be done ultimately to the benefit of those people who are near the forest, who are stewards and protecting the forests, and that would be our indigenous people,” added Atty. Edna Maguigad, grantee of Forest Foundation Philippines and Project Lead.

This collaboration project will develop and adopt the FPIC operational guidelines on sustainable nature financing, which ultimately benefits the communities, consistent with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.  

Ms. Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, Chairperson of NCIP, welcomed this project with enthusiasm. “This is not a one-time pledge, but an ongoing dedication to refining and improving our approach based on the lessons and evolving needs of our communities. NCIP’s commitment is not just a promise but a moral imperative.  It is a commitment to a sustainable future where our forests thrive, communities prosper, and our planet heals,” she said.

Atty. Jose Andres Canivel, Executive Director of Forest Foundation Philippines, likewise, expressed his commitment to ensure the protection of the indigenous peoples’ rights in forest conservation. He emphasized, “Forest Foundation continues to provide support because we understand that forests grow in ancestral domains, and ancestral domains have indigenous peoples. For us it’s an affirmation of the knowledge, culture, and wisdom of the IPs, the very people who have protected these forests for millennia.”

Atty. Rhodex Valenciano, NCIP Commissioner of Region III and Rest of Luzon, and Legal Affairs Oversight Commissioner, added, “There is also the need to keep attuned to the changing rules and standards in carbon projects. That is why we are grateful that Forest Foundation will walk us through this important and timely project.”

In the coming months, Forest Foundation and the NCIP, together with indigenous peoples and other stakeholders, will examine policy frameworks on natural resource management, sustainable forest management, and sustainable financing and safeguard requirements. Case studies in Davao Oriental, Agusan, Mindoro, Palawan and Northern Sierra Madre, where carbon projects have been implemented, will also be documented and studied. The results of these initiatives will be shared with NCIP policymakers to strengthen their capacities and will serve as input for the updating of the NCIP FPIC Guidelines. 

About Forest Foundation Philippines:

Forest Foundation Philippines (doing business as Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF), Inc.) is a non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization that provides grants and technical assistance to organizations and individuals that empower the people to protect the forests. 

About NCIP:

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is the agency of the national government of the Philippines that is responsible for protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.