APFNet’s Organizational Structure and Values

My first week at the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (hereafter “APFNet”) wasn’t directly related to specific duties; instead, I re-familiarized myself with the values, missions, and nature of work of the organization I interned with two years ago.

APFNet is a regional organization with 31 members, including 26 economies and 5 international organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. The organization is dedicated to promote sustainable forest management and development with the purpose to help mitigate and adapt to climate change and related environmental problems; as well as combating socio-economic inequalities that embedded within the issue area. The Secretariat sets the overarching strategies and priorities of the organization, while monitoring members’ behaviors. Specifically, periodical targets are designed on a five-year basis, prioritizing the rehabilitation of degraded forests, enhancement of the ecological functions and ecosystem services of forests, as well as promoting social welfare and community livelihood in the Asia-Pacific region. With staff members dispatched from the Secretariat in Beijing to various project areas, a review system is designated to monitor members’ organizational compliance, assess the progress of projects, and facilitate goal achieving. Proposals of future projects are brought to the Secretariat for evaluation and authorization. Therefore, decision-making of the institution is quite centralized with obligations delegated to member economies solely on operational levels.

The nature of work of APFNet is a combination of scientific knowledge and policymaking. The foundation is the solid scientific evidence from fieldworks, database, and reports from economies. Every year, staff members are sent to project areas, for example, the Greater Central Asia and the Lancang-Mekong River area (including China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam). They talk to experts, academics, and local people about local climate and environmental conditions, along with their traditional methods of forest management. This year, fieldworks overseas have been unfortunately impossible because of the COVID-19; the process of data gathering relies on satellite images, Geographic Information System (GIS), online interviews, and reports from economies. Scientific knowledge about local forest conditions and governance is reviewed critically and delivered to policymaking with the considerations of scientific accuracy and political dynamics. The Department of Communication and Outreach specifically focuses on “policy dialogue” as the transition between the two spheres. Some duties include preparing executive summary of the science-based reports for policy makers who are involved in strategy planning and regulation ratification. Personally, I’m working with this department and am really interested in observing and engaging in the transition. Besides, with five international organizations involved, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Tropical Timber Organizations (ITTO), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), APFNet values cooperation with and advice from those international organizations as well.