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Cablegate: Heart of Borneo: Bruneian Implementation Plan

VZCZCXRO8501
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBD #0351/01 3460728
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120728Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4026
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS COLL
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0034
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0441
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0134
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0045
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0519
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 000351

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, AND OES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID PREL BX
SUBJECT: HEART OF BORNEO: BRUNEIAN IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

REF: A. BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 156 (NOTAL)
B. BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 228

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. Brunei has completed its draft Project Implementation
Framework (PIF) for the Heart of Borneo (HOB) forest
conservation initiative, meant to serve as a national
roadmap for HOB implementation. It recommends expanding
the HOB zone to 74 percent of Brunei's land area, divided
into forest preserves and areas of carefully managed and
sustainable economic activity. The PIF defines
objectives and strategies for the HOB in Brunei and
recommends that 36 specific "interventions" be undertaken
over ten years at an estimated cost of USDOLS 6.5
million. To manage these activities, the Government of
Brunei (GOB) plans to establish a National HOB Centre
that will operate as a public-private partnership with
half of HOB funding derived from the private sector. The
draft PIF represents a genuine commitment by the GOB to
begin turning the HOB vision into reality, but will mean
little without concomitant progress by the much larger
HOB partners Malaysia and Indonesia. Embassy recommends
that any USG support for the GOB's HOB efforts be
targeted at activities that are multilateral in nature or
produce outcomes transferable to other parts of Borneo.
End Comment.

--------------------
STAKEHOLDERS MEETING
--------------------

2. On December 6 Brunei's HOB National Steering
Committee hosted a stakeholders meeting to discuss the
draft final report on the Project Implementation
Framework for the HOB in Brunei. The report was prepared
by Dato Mikaail Kavanagh, a partner in the Malaysian firm
ERE Consulting and former Executive Director of World
Wildlife Fund Malaysia, under a grant from Brunei Shell
Petroleum (BSP). Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary
Resources Dato Hamdillah bin Haji Abdul Wahab chaired the
meeting. In addition to some sixty government officers
and the Managing Directors of BSP and its sister company
Brunei LNG, Chiefs of Mission from the UK, Malaysia,
Japan, and Singapore attended, as did an officer from the
Indonesian Embassy. Ambassador Skodon represented the
U.S.

-----------------------
TOTAL HOB AREA EXPANDED
-----------------------

3. The PIF draft argues that Brunei, despite its small
size relative to HOB partners Indonesia and Malaysia, can
make a uniquely important contribution to the HOB because
its hydrocarbon wealth has limited the need to exploit
its forest assets and because it offers the opportunity
to connect the highland forests of Borneo to the
mangroves and other coastal forests on Brunei's South
China Sea coast. It also points out, however, that
Brunei faces a large task in developing the legal
framework, administrative structures, and expertise
required for sustainable management of its tropical
forests. (We have requested a complete text of the 120
page report to pouch to EAP/MTS.)

4. The draft PIF recommends that the total area devoted
to the HOB within Brunei be increased to 426,554
hectares, more than 20 percent over the initial
projection and approximately 74 percent of Brunei's total
land area. Dato Kavanagh stressed that this entire zone
would not be "locked away" from human use. To the
contrary, although the HOB would have to be carefully
managed in a sustainable fashion, the initiative could
not be successful unless it proved to be economically
viable and compatible with ongoing productive activities.
Accordingly, the draft PIF divides Brunei's HOB territory
into existing protected areas where only low-impact
activities such as research and eco-tourism would be
permitted (approximately 90,000 hectares), proposed new
protected areas (about 16,000 hectares), and areas for
sustainable forestry, forest rehabilitation, and closely

BANDAR SER 00000351 002 OF 004


managed human use (settlements, agriculture, sand mining,
and oil and gas extraction).

--------------------------------------------- --
HOB OBJECTIVES, STRATEGIES, AND "INTERVENTIONS"
--------------------------------------------- --

5. The draft PIF proposed the following five objectives
for the HOB in Brunei:

-- conserve representative forest and freshwater habitats
as well as the biological diversity therein;

-- contribute to economic diversification by developing
non-timber use of forests, particularly tourism,
biotechnology, and other innovative means;

-- set out an integrated framework for sustainable forest
use;

-- re-establish forest connectivity and greening of
degraded areas through reforestation and rehabilitation;
and,

-- build public support for HOB and general conservation
awareness.

6. In order to achieve these objectives, the PIF draft
proposes the following four strategies, each of which is
buttressed by recommended actions, or "interventions:"

-- Strategy 1: Conservation. Unique biological
resources of the HOB shall be conserved and used with due
consideration for long-term sustainability of ecosystems,
focusing on strengthening the protected area network,
transboundary cooperation and improving management
capacity.

-- Strategy 2: Tourism Development. Tourism in the HOB
shall be enhanced through development of niche nature
tourism products and joint tourism promotion with the
other Bornean countries, with the scale of development
taking into account environmental and cultural
sensitivities.

-- Strategy 3: Management of Non-Renewable Resources.
Development of such resources (extraction of sand, coal,
oil, and gas) shall be carried out in a manner that
imposes minimal impacts on the environment and protects
the integrity of forest connectivity.

-- Strategy 4: Outreach. Continuous environmental
education and awareness, with focus on community outreach
programs, shall be promoted to ensure the sustainability
of the HOB.

7. The 36 "interventions" that the draft PIF proposes to
implement these strategies range from the very specific
("Gazette Belait peat swamp as a forest preserve") to the
vaguely hopeful ("Initiate discussion with
Sarawak/Malaysia on integrated management of Brunei
Bay"). They include practical measures to fill the gaps
in Brunei's capacity for environmental protection,
including establishment of a "Department of Biodiversity
Protection and National Parks" or "National Wildlife
Agency" to concentrate responsibilities now spread
throughout the government, and creation of an
Environmental Impact Assessment process for major
projects within the HOB area. Their implementation is to
be spread out over nine years at a total estimated cost
of BDOLS 9.4 million (approx USDOLS 6.5 million),
beginning with an expenditure of BDOLS 650 thousand
(USDOLS 450 thousand) in 2008.

------------------------
HOB MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK
------------------------

8. There was considerable discussion at the stakeholders
meeting about a national management framework for the
HOB. After the full cabinet and Sultan approve the PIF,
the GOB hopes to set up an HOB National Council to
provide overall policy guidance and coordination, chaired
by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources and

BANDAR SER 00000351 003 OF 004


including other government agencies as well as NGO's and
private sector representatives. Additionally, an Interim
Coordination Unit with a staff of five and an estimated
two-year budget of BDOLS 1.6 million (USDOLS 1.1 million)
will be established no later than the next trilateral HOB
coordination meeting in April of 2008.

9. The Interim Coordination Unit is to serve as the
acting National HOB Secretariat and will coordinate
planning for a National HOB Centre which is expected to
take over management of the HOB in Brunei by 2010. That
organization will probably be split between an executive
office in Bandar Seri Begawan and a training and wildlife
breeding center within Brunei's HOB area, possibly co-
located with the planned National Tropical Biodiversity
Centre.

---------------------------------------
FUNDING VIA PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS
---------------------------------------

10. Dato Hamdillah emphasized that the GOB hopes to
continue implementing the HOB as a public-private
partnership. The operation of the projected national HOB
Centre may be contracted out to a private entity or NGO,
which would operate under the policy guidance provided by
the HOB National Council and draw from a GOB-managed
trust fund for project financing. He expressed the hope
that the cost of that center and of the interventions
specified in the draft PIF could be split 50-50 between
the GOB and private sector donors. The draft PIF even
proposes the establishment of funding levels that would
entitle private companies to be designated as Bronze,
Silver, Gold, or Platinum HOB donors, with Platinum
donors being given a seat on the National Steering
Committee and later the HOB National Council.

11. The draft PIF names several foreign research
institutions as supporters of individual "interventions,"
including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center and
Harvard University. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade representative who attended the stakeholders
meeting stated that Brunei should look for international
governmental donors as well. He claimed that some such
prospective donors were constrained from providing funds
to Brunei because it had not yet signed the Convention on
Biological Diversity, but that the GOB hoped to rectify
this situation by signing the CBD in 2008.

12. Ambassador noted that some potential governmental
donors might also face constraints in providing funds to
a country with a per capita income as high as Brunei's.
He recommended that, whenever possible, Brunei seek to
involve HOB partners Malaysia and Indonesia in the
implementation of its proposed "interventions," both to
increase the effectiveness of such actions and to ease
the path for donors who might find it easier to support
multilateral projects involving those countries.

--------------------------
COMMENT AND RECOMMENDATION
--------------------------

13. As previously reported, the HOB has captured the
public imagination in Brunei. The GOB is responding to
that enthusiasm with what appears to be a genuine effort
to put some meat on the bones of the original HOB vision.
Its goal of having private donors meet half the projected
funding needs is attainable, since the large companies
that operate in Brunei's hydrocarbon sector will gain
considerable public relations benefits from supporting
this visible and popular environmental initiative.

14. Less encouragingly, the GOB seems to have dropped
for now any mention of a trilateral secretariat in Brunei
to coordinate HOB activity Borneo-wide, due to
differences with Malaysia and Indonesia about whether
and/or where such a secretariat should be established
(ref B). Even if the objectives set out in the draft
national PIF become reality -- not a given -- it will
matter little unless Brunei's much larger Bornean
neighbors undertake successful HOB efforts of their own.
Embassy recommends that the USG focus on supporting those
PIF "interventions" that are multilateral in nature

BANDAR SER 00000351 004 OF 004


and/or produce outcomes that could be applicable in
Malaysia or Indonesia as well. END COMMENT.
SKODON

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