Can you tell us more about the consultation process involved in developing the standard for forest management, and the challenges encountered?

Both the standards for forest management, the current ITTO-based MC&I(2001) and the new FSC-based MC&I(2002), have been developed through multi-stakeholder consultations.

As mentioned earlier, the MC&I(2001) incorporates the corresponding SOPs for Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia that were identified during the regional and national level consultations held amongst multi-stakeholders in 1999. These consultations were actively participated by all stakeholders, including 20 representatives of various environmental and social NGOs. There was no withdrawal of any party from the process, even though some of the social NGOs did flag their concerns at the national level consultation on several processes related to forest management which they hoped could be solved through forest certification. The participants at the consultation deliberated at length on the issues raised by these NGOs pertaining to native customary rights (NCRs) and participation of local communities in relation to forest management in Sarawak, although these organisations fully supported the concept and implementation of forest certification. Detailed explanations were made regarding these concerns. The meeting noted that the issues raised involve the implementation of certain State laws and therefore were beyond the area of responsibility of MTCC.

The development of the MC&I(2002) involved broad-based consultations and consensus between social, environmental and economic stakeholder groups and direct resource managers through several meetings of the NSC and regional consultations held in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak where appropriate regional verifiers were identified. These consultations culminated in the national-level consultation held in October 2002 where representatives of all the stakeholder groups from the three regions met to finalise and adopt the MC&I(2002).

A small number of social NGOs however have withdrawn from the NSC process in the development of the MC&I(2002), i.e. five members representing three organisations. The NSC has 28 members representing the social, environmental and economic interest groups, and the direct resource managers. Of the present 23 members (82% of the NSC members), three are representatives of three social organisations.

It should also be noted that many more social NGOs attended the regional and national level consultations. In Sabah, 71 participants representing all the stakeholder groups attended the regional consultation, out of which 17 were representatives from the following 11 social and environmental organisations:

Institute for Indigenous Economic Progress (INDEP)
Persatuan Bumiputra Iranun Sabah (PISBA) (Association of Iranun Indigenous People of Sabah) (The Bumiputra Iranun are one of the indigenous people in Sabah)
Human Rights Commission Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Sabah Branch
Persatuan Tidung Sabah (PTS) (Tidung Association of Sabah) (The Tidung are one of the indigenous people in Sabah)
Persatuan Kedayan Sabah (KEDAYAN) (Kedayan Association of Sabah) (The Kedayan are one of the indigenous people in Sabah)
Consumers Association of Sabah and Labuan Federal Territory (CASH)
Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah Branch)
WWF Malaysia
Sabah Nature Club
Sabah Environment Protection Association (SEPA)
Rotary Clubs of Sabah

In Sarawak, 38 participants took part in the regional consultation. Just like in Sabah, the response from the social and environmental stakeholder groups in Sarawak was indeed encouraging. Eleven participants representing the following social and environmental NGOs participated very actively in the deliberations on the Verifiers to be included for Sarawak in the MC&I(2002):

Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU)
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) (SDNU and SADIA are two of the four Dayak-based social organisations in Sarawak. The Dayaks comprise the largest ethnic group in Sarawak, accounting for 47.2 % of the population)
Majlis Adat Istiadat (Council for Customs and Traditions), Sarawak
Sarawak Forestry Department Employees’ Union (UFES)
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
Aonyx Environmental Services, Sarawak

For the Peninsular Malaysia regional consultation, even though there was no representation of the local communities, nevertheless there was active participation from a qualified sociologist who is an expert on the Orang Asli. The expert provided useful inputs in the formulation of the Verifiers for Peninsular Malaysia, especially for Principles 2 and 3.

A total of 113 participants representing all the stakeholder groups took part in the
national-level consultation where the MC&I(2002) was finalised and adopted. There was good representation of the social and environmental stakeholder groups which were represented by the following organisations:

Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA)
Persatuan Murut Sabah (Sabah Murut Association)
Persatuan Bumiputra Iranun Sabah (PISBA) (Association of Iranun Indigenous People of Sabah)
Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU)
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
Majlis Adat Istiadat (Council for Customs and Traditions), Sarawak
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW)
Kesatuan Pegawai-Pegawai Hutan Melayu Malaysia Barat (Malay Forest Officers Union, West Malaysia)
Sarawak Forestry Department Employees’ Union
National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO)
Rotary Clubs of Sabah
Consumers Association of Sabah and Labuan Federal Territory (CASH)
Traffic International
WWF Malaysia
WWF Malaysia, Sabah
Sabah Environment Protection Association (SEPA)
Malaysian Nature Society
Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah Branch)
Malaysian Nature Society, Sarawak
Malaysia Environmental Consultant Sdn. Bhd.
Aonyx Environmental Services, Sarawak

It is to be noted that all stakeholder groups were invited to attend the regional and national level consultations. These included the 10 social organisations in the JOANGOHutan list who had sent the “NGOs Statement to MTCC dated 30 July 2001” which announced their withdrawal from the NSC process and have decided to practice a policy of “self-exclusion”.

The issues raised by the NGOs in the above-mentioned Statement have been discussed at the second NSC meeting, where the NSC members unanimously agreed that most of the issues would be dealt with by the NSC during its deliberations in formulating the MC&I(2002).

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