Indonesia and the Philippines are working on a bilateral partnership for a major reforestation project which may catalyze net zero and carbon market development in the ASEAN region.

The reforestation partnership was among the projects being pushed by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) this year.

This is because both countries have a significant forest resource, making them among the biggest oxygen producers in this region, Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) chairman and ASEAN-BAC 2023 chairman Arsjad Rasjid said in an interview with The STAR.

Indonesia has 91.2 million hectares of forest land while the Philippines has 23.3 million hectares.

And with the growing demand for carbon credits globally, the reforestation partnership presents an immense opportunity for both countries.

'Globally, for this net zero and carbon neutrality, every country, company has growing demand for the so called carbon credit and this creates big opportunity. We expect the carbon market to reach $50 billion by year 2030 and the ASEAN region is well positioned to capitalize on this opportunity,' Arsjad said.

'That's why we have net zero hub and carbon excellence as legacy projects (of the ASEAN-BAC) that will create ecosystem for net zero and carbon market development, and also provide Indonesia and the Philippines to leverage their significant forests,' he said.

This reforestation project will be a bilateral partnership between Indonesia and the Philippines to catalyze such a major undertaking in the region.

'Every country is doing it. Indonesia is doing it. The Philippines is doing it. But this is the first time for us we're working together. If we can put more resources and share experience that can reduce time because we'll have less mistakes, but we'll have more funding, more resources,' Arsjad said.

Once the project is implemented, more ASEAN members can be invited to be part of the reforestation project.

'As long as we can start, we do believe it will be significant. After that, we can invite others to come in. We are trying to create a catalyst,' Arsjad said.

The project was initially discussed with Environment Secretary Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga and various Philippine business chambers last February after Kadin secured the support of the Indonesian government to push for the bilateral partnership.

With talks still in the early stages, Indonesia and the Philippines are eyeing to finalize and sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the ASEAN leadership meeting in September.

'Hopefully we'll be able to find a resolution to at least sign the MOU then start feasibility and push forward,' Arsjad said.


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