The city of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, will play host to the 2017 Forest Investment Program (FIP) Pilot Countries Meeting, on September 27-29. The FIP provides indispensable direct investments to benefit forests, development and the climate, with a parallel focus on enhancing partner learning and coordination. Annual pilot country meetings bring together participants from government, the private sector, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, local community groups, and colleagues from the multilateral development banks (MDBs) that implement FIP-funded projects, to foster peer-to-peer learning among the 53 pilot countries—from practical issues related to the design and implementation of FIP investment plans to other forestry activities.

The last FIP Pilot Countries Meeting brought together over 100 participants from all 23 FIP countries, in Oaxaca, Mexico, June 12-14, 2016.

This will be the first Pilot Countries Meeting in which FIP and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) collaborate to bring peer-to-peer learning to over 50 countries, for a meeting of minds that represents the newest strides in forestry and REDD+.

The host country, where forests cover about 40% of geographical area, was one of the first 8 pilot countries to benefit from FIP funding. Lao PDR’s FIP Investment Plan aims to complement ongoing REDD+ initiatives, including a focus on strengthening legal and regulatory frameworks. FIP resources are also being used to support participatory forest management and sustainable environmental services at all levels (national, provincial, district), both in and out of designated state forest areas.

The SUFORD (Scaling Up Sustainable Forestry for Rural Development) Project is just one good example of FIP investments at work in the host country. Watch the video to learn more about the project.

The project’s core objective is to reduce carbon emissions through sustainable forest management in priority areas and to pilot forest landscape management in four northern provinces of Lao PDR. SUFORD has seen early success in developing community action plans and village livelihood activities, which divert villagers out of the forests and through sustainable livelihood opportunities. This approach protects forests from deforestation and degradation.

Participatory sustainable forest management of this nature will be one of many topics for discussion at the meeting, along with how countries can take ownership of communicating their experiences and lessons learned. The FIP recognizes that the management of forests requires a long-term perspective. That is why opportunities like this, which provide countries with a platform for ongoing knowledge exchange and peer-to-peer learning, remain a top priority for the program.