• Home
  • Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR
Posted by


Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region on earth, and home to the world’s three largest cities. Yet it also contains 740 million hectares of forests, accounting for 26 percent of the region’s land area and 18 percent of forest cover globally.

More than 450 million people depend on these forests for their livelihoods.

Through the theme “Protecting forests and people, supporting economic growth,” the third Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) examined how the region’s economic and social development can better integrate with climate change and carbon emissions reduction goals.

Following the first APRS held in Sydney in 2014 and the second in Brunei Darussalam in 2016, this year’s was the largest yet, held in the Javanese cultural center of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. From April 23–25, more than 1,200 representatives from academia, civil society, business, government and research institutions gathered for panels, discussions, workshops and field trips.

Regional leaders formed the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) and its biannual Summit to help realize the global goal of ending rainforest loss by 2030, as well as reduce poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), carbon emissions through REDD+, and climate change through the Paris Agreement – as discussed in the Summit’s first day of high-level panels.

Read also: FTA at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit

“Since the summit in Brunei, I am happy to see substantial progress on REDD+ both regionally and globally,” said Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg in the opening ceremony. “We need to maintain this momentum and step up the pace of change if we are going to protect our forests and our people while securing economic growth.”

As the host country – supported the Australian Government, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) – Indonesia highlighted its recent environmental achievements.

“In the last three years, we have managed to reduce the [annual] deforestation rate from 1.09 million hectares to 610,000 hectares, and 480,000 million hectares in 2017,” said Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya.

“We realize that forests are a major contributor to carbon emissions, mainly due to forest fires – especially in peatlands. Forests represent 18% of our national emissions reduction targets and are expected to contribute to over half of our [Paris Agreement] targets.”

CIFOR’s Daniel Murdiyarso speaks during a session on restoration and sustainable management of peatlands at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit 2018. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Minister Nurbaya also pointed to community and social forestry as a major theme of the Summit. Indonesia has set a target to allocate some 12.7 million hectares of land for use by communities partaking in five social forestry schemes. Nurbaya said she hopes other countries are similarly prioritizing community-based forestry management.

Community forestry was one of the sub-themes highlighted in the second day’s expert panels, alongside restoration and sustainable management of peatlands, mangroves and blue carbon, ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity, production forests, and forest finance, investment and trade. Issues in focus are detailed below.


Speakers throughout the Summit echoed the need for increased private-sector support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and policies that help enable this.

Companies need more incentives – and assurance of profitability – if they are to balance their business activities with ecological protection and support to local communities. Similarly, there needs to be proof of returns in order to increase private investment in environmental efforts.

The commitment of USD 500 million by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was highlighted as a best-practice example. Announced in May 2017, the pledge is now being used to back select business proposals that creatively address climate change.

Juan Chang, a GCF senior specialist in forest and land use and panel speaker at the Summit, said the Fund’s forestry and land use portfolio of 10 funded projects around the world so far includes 2 REDD+ projects.

Within GCF’s portfolio as a whole, around a third of its USD 3.7 billion goes to projects in the Asia-Pacific region.


This year’s APRS comes roughly a decade after the UNFCCC COP13 in Bali gave birth to REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), an initiative that – much as its name says – seeks to lower global carbon emissions by preserving tropical forests.

As its goals broadened to give more attention to sustainable forest management and carbon stocks, REDD became REDD+, which now has numerous development and research projects running throughout the region.

Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, HE Siti Nurbaya, opens the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Around 2 billion hectares of Asia-Pacific forests are degraded, and research experts expressed that production forests – such as those used for bioenergy – hold new opportunities for REDD+ implementation.

Contrasting this, however, was the difficulty some countries’ delegates said they’re facing in setting the many pieces in place required to uphold such a detailed effort as REDD+.

While Indonesia and Papua New Guinea now have much of the REDD+ architecture up and running, both countries have met roadblocks in implementing emissions measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems as well as results-based payments mechanisms.

Emma Rachmawaty, Director of Climate Change at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said, “We are in the process of establishing a financial institution to manage financing for REDD+. [Until then] we cannot implement results-based payments for REDD+.”

Danae Maniatis from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) analogized REDD+ framework construction with that of a building.

“Pillars for REDD+ need to be really strong at the readiness phase,” she said. “If you have a house that has a roof but nothing else, would you use it? No. You need it to be functional. So, the challenge that we face is: how do you take these elements and make them functional?”

Read also: Social forestry impacts local livelihoods in Indonesia


Mangroves and blue carbon – carbon captured and stored in oceans and coastal areas – have been hot topics of late.

“There is one ecosystem that has been close to my heart for a long time, that encompasses all the issues you can think of for forests: peatlands and mangroves,” said CIFOR Director General Dr. Robert Nasi.

“Although they represent a small percentage of forests, they are probably the richest and most carbon-rich ecosystems in the world – and the most threatened. I can only encourage and commend Indonesia for all the efforts they’re doing in terms of restoring and rehabilitating peatlands and mangroves.”

Comparatively little research has been done on these ecosystems so far. But the vast carbon sinks of Indonesia’s mangroves – the largest in the world, spanning 3.5 million hectares – have begun to make their way onto the archipelago’s national agenda, potentially contributing to the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement and becoming grounds for financial support to local communities through payment for ecosystem services (PES).

Another way to link local communities to financial institutions and global markets? Ecotourism – responsible recreational activities that encourage conservation and preserve biodiversity.

Panelists called for philanthropic foundations and development organizations to give this growing sector more attention. In the realm of sustainable development business ventures, ecotourism is an on-the-ground way to aid land rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation while still turning a profit – however small that profit may be.

This echoed Dr. Nasi’s opening ceremony statement that the Asia-Pacific region is “a region of superlatives and a region of many contrasts,” with a vast array of businesses, landscapes, socioeconomic levels and governments.

Yet, everyone attending the summit “comes together for one reason: because forests matter.”

By Nabiha Shahab, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

Cattle farming is a key driver of deforestation in Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR
Posted by


The Amazon river and rainforest are seen from above in Amazonas, Brazil. Photo by N. Palmer/CIAT for CIFOR

The recent meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board in Songdo, Korea, adopted two new decisions intended to reduce global emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as to support forest restoration and conservation in developing countries via REDD+.

These two new decisions relate to the GCF’s role in financing development of policies and preparatory activities in developing countries and the GCF’s policy related to making payments for verified emission reductions achieved through such policies and measures.


It has been a long trek to get to this point at the international level. The work on REDD+ started as early as 2005, and the international framework was finalized between 2013 and 2015. The UN Climate Convention Standing Committee on Finance has more recently been undertaking work to move the finance discussion forward since 2014 and much groundwork has been done through initiatives led by the World Bank, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the UN-REDD Programme.

Since efforts to curb forest loss and restore and conserve forests commenced through REDD+, there has been more than USD $6 billion provided to countries across Asia, Africa and Central and South America mostly on behalf of the governments of Norway, Germany, the UK and the US. Now, more funding (likely several hundreds of millions of US dollars) is expected to come from the GCF.

However, despite all these efforts, only one country Brazil has been able to show a decrease in deforestation. But this trend has been reversed with a recent growth in deforestation. The complexities associated with REDD+ and its lack of emissions reductions results has thus caused many to question the potential for the framework to mitigate climate change.

Attempts to achieve these objectives by relying on private sector finance and carbon markets (negligible to non-existent) have been marred with controversy, associated with on the ground realities of rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. These tensions remain, with deep divides persisting on topics such as carbon markets, offsets, lack of respect for indigenous rights, and continued uncertainty related to land tenure in many countries.

Despite this, slowing, halting and reversing forest cover and carbon loss remains a global priority. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 seeks to achieve this by 2020. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and restoring and conserving forests, was also identified as a priority action in the Paris Agreement.

The global community is well aware of the importance of forests to the climate change agenda, and heavy reliance is being placed on forest and land use to achieve the goals outlined by the Paris Agreement.

Read also: What’s causing the holdup in REDD+ results-based finance?

Serapio Condori Daza, a brazil nut harvester, works in a concession in Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by M. Simola/CIFOR


The first decision made at the recent 17th Meeting of the GCF Board in Songdo addressed the type of support to be provided by the GCF to enact the enabling conditions, policies and measures required to support Phases 1 and 2 of REDD+.

The multibillion-dollar fund will support countries to develop strategies and action plans, reference levels to measure emissions, forest monitoring systems and safeguard systems, as well as land tenure reform, and will put emphasis on issues related to gender, indigenous peoples rights and environmental integrity.

The GCF intends to makes it a priority to enhance countries’ capacities to safeguard the rights of local and indigenous communities and to seek strict adherence to social and environmental safeguards.

The GCF says it will ensure relevant stakeholders and civil society groups are consulted, with particular attention paid to the rights of indigenous peoples. It will focus on investments that build local and long-lasting capacities and stakeholder engagement processes.

The GCF will support projects and programs, which target the following:

  • Previously forested lands: to reduce pressure on forests by increasing productivity of agricultural lands through more efficient and proven technologies, reforestation and agroforestry and restoration of natural forests;
  • Managed forests: targeting forests in proximity to the agricultural frontier. This may come in the form of sustainable forest management for timber or non‐timber forest products, payments for ecosystem services, and ecotourism; and
  • Primary forests: recognizing land tenure rights, strengthening law enforcement measures, creating large‐scale protected areas, maintaining the livelihoods and cultural values of forest‐dependent people and long‐term conservation of these forests and the ecosystem services they provide.

The decision also identifies that the GCF will engage with the private sector through its Private Sector Facility. Through this facility, the GCF considers that it may provide support by:

  • Providing funding and instruments to generate credit lines with improved loan conditions for sustainable agricultural practices conditional to maintaining natural forests and/or increasing forest areas;
  • Financing technical assistance to small‐scale farmers to improve capacities and generate opportunities to engage in deforestation‐free supply chains; and
  • Providing guarantees to reduce market risks, and other risks inherent to the forestry and land use sectors, including climate variability.

At this point in time, the GCF’s approach to engagement with the private sector is still in its infancy. Work will commence in the coming months to further develop a policy on the way in which the fund interacts with the private sector, likely including the topic of trading in forest carbon.

Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a leading board member working on this issue, underscored the intention of the GCF to become a global leader on the topic. It was emphasized by Mpanu Mpanu and other board members that funding should not be limited to just a few countries, but to all the countries that require support to achieve emissions reductions from forests.

Germany’s board member Karsten Sachs emphasized the need to ensure clarity on the comparative advantage of the GCF over other funds proving finance on the same subject. He elaborated that further work needs to be done on cohesion and complementarity with initiatives such as the FCPF and UN-REDD. Sachs also emphasized the importance of support for work by Germany and the importance of strengthening the role of the private sector, including through supply chain management.

The decision was welcomed by representatives of indigenous peoples, who reinforced that land rights are the basis of success for interventions of this type. They emphasized the need to ensure prevention of risks arising from implementation and their desire to see support from the GCF in strengthening land rights.


The second decision was on the topic related to payment for results – meaning verified emissions reductions achieved by following the processes set out by the UNFCCC Framework related to REDD+. The decision was entitled “Pilot Program for REDD+ Results Based Payments”.

This was a more technical decision than the previous one, and one in which the GCF Board members ensured their UNFCCC expert negotiators were present to provide consul on (including the US, Norway, Malaysia and Brazil).

The results-based payments decision contained the following aspects as the “Key Procedural and technical elements”:

An aerial shot shows the contrast between the forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR

a) Access modality: requests would be channeled through accredited entities of the GCF, albeit acting in a more limited role.

b) Financial valuation of results: proposed a uniform and fixed price of USD $5 per ton CO2 eq. for the pilot program.

c) Size of the Request For Payments (RFP): proposed allocating between USD $300 million and USD $500 million for the pilot program. It was noted that as of June 2017, 25 countries have completed their reference levels, and the Technical Analysis by the UNFCCC and four countries have submitted REDD+ results to the UNFCCC Secretariat with a potential volume of emissions reductions from countries ranging between 600 and 2500 million tonnes of CO2 eq. over the last two to four years.

d) Double payment and double financing: considered by the GCF Secretariat to be where a country receives both support for activities pertaining to Phases 1 and 2 of REDD+, and payments for the results achieved during the same periods in Phase 3, proposing that this can be managed through appropriate control policies (i.e. registry systems).

e) Use of proceeds: Proposed that countries receiving REDD+ results-based payments (RBPs) should reinvest the proceeds in activities in line with countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

f) Ownership, legal title and implications on NDCs: the emissions reductions paid for by the GCF under the pilot program are proposed not to be transferred to the GCF and should be retired. In other words, it is a ‘non market’ approach.

g) Eligibility date for results and length of the RFP: Concerns the eligibility date of results (past or future) for payments. The secretariat suggested the pilot only consider recent ex-post results. The length of the entire process could take up to two years (from the launch of the request for payments to the distribution of payments).

h) Scale of implementation: proposals should be designed to achieve tons of emissions reductions or enhanced removals at national, or in the interim, sub-national level.

i) Forest reference emission levels (FREL)/Forest reference levels (FRL) and results: The GCF proposes to employ a scorecard to create a bridge from UNFCCC Technical Analysis processes to GCF RBP payments.

j) Operationalization of the Cancun safeguards: Noting differences between the Cancun safeguards and the GCF environmental and social standards, countries applying for results-based payments will have the primary responsibility of demonstrating how the Cancun safeguards have been addressed and respected in the implementation of the REDD+ activities through their Summary of Information. The AEs, working with the countries, will prepare and document an assessment describing how the GCF interim standards have been met and applied in the REDD+ activities. Again, a scorecard will play an important role.

The secretariat identified the need to better understand the size of the pilot, the eligibility date, the distribution of payments, and the application of the scorecard.

The board members approached the issue with caution, recognizing the complexities, sensitivities and history of international negotiations on the topic.

Caroline Leclerc of Canada, one of the champions leading the process, mentioned the complexities and the interlinkages of topics, as well as the fact that the board is not in a place to fully agree on all the parts of the proposed decision.

Mpanu Mpanu mentioned that the price may be a complicated issue as it costs many countries more per ton than US$5 to reduce emissions through the forest and land-use sector.

The board members commenced putting forward different positions, making it clear that there was not going to be agreement on many issues. Diverse positions and concerns arose on various topics including: eligibility dates, transfer, the size of the GCF envelope, price, double financing, assessment, and the content of the scorecard.

Read also: Smallholder farmers in REDD+ sites: The cost of missed opportunities

Cattle farming is a key driver of deforestation in Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR


Following a full day of consultations and closed-room negotiations, the board finally took note of the progress made. It asked the secretariat to undertake further analysis to finalize the draft request for further consideration on proposals at the 18th Meeting of the Board, which will be held in Cairo, Egypt, in September.

The GCF approach to forests, on paper at least, seems encouraging in many ways. This major global fund is seeking, at this point in time, to look beyond merely economic incentives such as markets and carbon trading to holistic landscape and cross-sectoral approaches with broad stakeholder engagement. The fund seems to embrace both market and non-market approaches.

Although these decisions are about REDD+ specifically, the GCF is making efforts to look beyond the limitations associated with the current REDD+ framework concerning matters such as addressing drivers of deforestation.

It is also seeking to enhance respect for rights. In recent years, there has been a significant improvement of the fund’s approach to indigenous peoples’ rights. This is reflected in the recent decisions taken and the ongoing work related to a standalone indigenous people’s policy expected to be put forth at the next board meeting.

It is also noteworthy that the GCF is progressively laying the groundwork to engage in more depth on carbon trading-related interventions, which will no doubt in due course give rise to increasing controversy and potential for reputational risk to the fund.

The proof, however, will be in the project approval, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The GCF is still on a learning curve when it comes to project implementation, with 43 projects now approved and valued at around US$2 billion.

Very little funding has started to flow and getting money out the door has been challenging. Projects approved by the GCF have come under some criticism for lacking consultations with stakeholders, and the fund will need to ensure that these issues do not reoccur as it moves further into the realm of forests and landscapes.

By Stephen Leonard, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Stephen Leonard at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

  • Home
  • ASEAN calls for agroforestry guidelines to share benefits across the region

ASEAN calls for agroforestry guidelines to share benefits across the region

Trees provide shade in a tea agroforestry site in Asia. Photo by ICRAF
Posted by


Guidelines to help farmers, advisors and governments develop agroforestry in ASEAN member states have been prioritized. Photo by R. Finlayson/ICRAF

Agroforestry guidelines are to be established by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help its member states share benefits with their 650 million citizens thanks to the leadership of the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry.

The development of the guidelines for member states of ASEAN was formally endorsed and given highest priority at the 11th annual meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry, held on June 15, 2017, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The group consists of high-level representatives from forestry ministries in the member states and makes recommendations for ministerial-level action.

To be led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the guidelines are to be developed through an open consultative process that embraces governments, community groups and others. The guidelines are to provide a broad framework and principles that member states can adopt as appropriate for their national and local contexts, which is in keeping with the nature of agroforestry itself.

‘The right tree in the right place’ is a guiding slogan of much of ICRAF’s work throughout the world. Also in keeping with the principles that underpin ICRAF, the guidelines are to be built on scientific, local and policy knowledge to ensure that all voices are heard and included in the final document.

Trees provide shade in a tea agroforestry site in Asia. Photo by ICRAF

“This prioritization is a response to demands from member states for technical and operational guidance on how agroforestry can better support their socioeconomic and environmental objectives and facilitate the achievement of targets under the SDGs, Paris Climate Agreement and the Bonn Challenge,” said Doris Capistrano, senior advisor to the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change program, which has been supporting community forestry in ASEAN for more than 10 years. The program in turn is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

“The ASEAN member states understand the importance of agroforestry in helping them to meet their commitments to improve their people’s welfare and at the same time meet national and international goals for land restoration, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and adapting to climate change.”

A preliminary list of topics to be covered by the guidelines includes, first, a discussion of the international, regional and national policy frameworks that have bearing on the development of agroforestry across Southeast Asia. This would cover related policies that already support agroforestry, such as the Strategic Plan of Action of the ASEAN Cooperation on Food, Agriculture and Forestry 2016–2025.

The principles that should inform the design and implementation of agroforestry programs need to underpin the guidelines and point to safeguards for vulnerable populations, including monitoring and certification options. In essence, the guidelines would address the varying roles and objectives of agroforestry, including any trade-offs that might occur under certain circumstances. The guidelines would also present models of agroforestry practices suitable for diverse biophysical and socioeconomic conditions of the region, with examples of competitive business cases.

Possible mechanisms for financing and sharing of benefits from agroforestry schemes that are developed would also be discussed along with mechanisms for adaptive learning, communications and knowledge exchange. The role of research and analysis, including participatory action research, would also be covered.

Delegates from ASEAN member states receive agroforestry policy briefs and a manual on agroforestry in rice-production landscapes. Photo by R. Finlayson/ICRAF

“ICRAF is very proud to be asked to lead the development of a guiding document that can help the governments of the region achieve their goals,” said Ingrid Öborn, regional coordinator of ICRAF in Southeast Asia. “We have been providing technical support to the Working Group members for many years now. The call for region-wide guidelines is a very welcome outcome. We expect over the next few years that the guidelines will encourage much more agroforestry than we see at present, with all the benefits that this will bring, especially to the many millions of poor smallholding farmers who provide much of the region’s food.

“It will also be a big step forward in helping ICRAF achieve its vision of an equitable world where all people have viable livelihoods supported by healthy and productive landscapes.”

With an urgent and tight timeline in keeping with the demand for direction from member states, ICRAF must now bring together diverse expertise from across the region to gather knowledge about policies, regulations and agroforestry practices best suited to a range of environments from coastal mangrove forests and deltas through lowland rice-production landscapes to uplands and mountain areas.

“It is not a small challenge,” confirmed Nguyen Tien Hai, manager of ICRAF’s component of the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change project, “but we are confident that ICRAF has the expertise in participatory action research in agroforestry development to be able to meet the challenge.”

By Rob Finlayson, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World

The ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry is a transformation from the ASEAN Social Forestry Network, a government-driven network in Southeast Asia that aims to promote social forestry policy and practices in the region. It has been contributing to the implementation of the ASEAN Multisectoral Framework on Climate Change: Agriculture and Forestry towards Food Security, the Vision and Strategic Plan of Action of the ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (2016–2025), and the ASEAN Blueprints for ASEAN Community Building, particularly the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) is a partnership program that aims to contribute to the ASEAN Mandate and Policy Framework through support through the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry and the ASEAN Multisectoral Framework on Climate Change towards Food Security. With assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, ASFCC addresses interlinked issues of food security, poverty and climate change, particularly in forested landscapes in Southeast Asia through the Cooperation and Partnership Programme activities with ASEAN Member States.

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

  • Home
  • Research to enhance transparency in Indonesia’s land sector

Research to enhance transparency in Indonesia’s land sector

Posted by


Click to watch Steve Lawry's presentation
Click to watch Steve Lawry’s presentation

In January, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry presented its latest research on land-sector transparency to a multi-stakeholder workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The National Workshop on Translating [the] Transparency Framework under [the] Paris Agreement Into [the] National Context, hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry on 26 January, was attended by more than 300 representatives from government, civil society, international aid agencies and more.

Steven Lawry, Director of CIFOR’s Forests and Governance Research Portfolio, at the event presented a recently published infobrief on the role of non-state actors and corporate pledges in enhancing transparency under the Paris Agreement. The research was last presented to global decision-makers by CIFOR at COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.

The focus of the workshop was Indonesia’s preparations to meet its obligations under the ‘Enhanced Transparency Framework’ established under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The workshop introduced to a wide range of stakeholders the structure, reporting protocols and management support systems underlying Indonesia’s National Registry System on climate change mitigation and adaptation and resources (SRN-PPI). The SRN-PPI builds on and links to the existing national systems for greenhouse gas inventory and monitoring, reporting and verification.

Click to read the related Infobrief
Click to read the related Infobrief

Lawry reported strong interest from stakeholders in CIFOR’s research on the opportunities and obstacles to bringing non-state actors into the transparency framework.

“There was a good discussion about market drivers of private sector commitments, the global character of the drivers, and the complexities of forecasting and capturing their consequences for national-level planning,” Lawry said.

“There was also discussion of the complexity of the private sector and its variable characteristics, and ability to take up mitigation and adaptation practices, among many other topics,” he added.

Read more on this topic on Forests News here.

  • Home
  • Enhancing transparency in the land sector under the Paris Agreement: Bringing contributions of non-state actors and corporate pledges into national-level climate reporting

Enhancing transparency in the land sector under the Paris Agreement: Bringing contributions of non-state actors and corporate pledges into national-level climate reporting

Click to watch Steve Lawry's presentation
Posted by


Presentation by Steven Lawry, Research Director for Governance, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), at the National Workshop on Translating Transparency Framework under the Paris Agreement into National Context, 26 January 2017, Jakarta, Indonesia.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

  • Home
  • Increasing accountability in the Paris Agreement

Increasing accountability in the Paris Agreement

An aerial shot shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Posted by


An aerial shot shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
An aerial shot shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

By Niki de Sy, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

Many countries have included agriculture, forestry and other land use targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to fight climate change as part of the Paris Agreement.

The land use sector is particularly important because it holds many links to food security, economy, well being, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This sector is also unique because of its huge carbon sink potential. In developing countries, land use change (i.e. deforestation) and agriculture are often the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Unfortunately, emissions from land use change are notoriously hard to quantify and monitoring capacities in many developing countries remain low.

The Enhanced Transparency Framework was established to enable the tracking, comparing and understanding of national commitments worldwide to fight climate change. Countries will need to provide necessary information to track progress towards implementing and achieving their NDCs and on reducing GHG emissions.

This information will be used for a Global Stocktake conducted every five years. The Paris Agreement also encourages other stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to participate in efforts to address and respond to climate change.

Also read Infobrief on transparency and the Paris Agreement
Also read Infobrief on transparency and the Paris Agreement

This means that land use sector information will be needed for quantifying and tracking progress made at the local, national and global levels, as well as for guiding local mitigation planning and implementation of land use activities, and the accountability of actions and stakeholders (i.e. for tracking corporate ‘zero deforestation’ commitments).

A variety of stakeholders (governments, private sector, land managers, etc.) will increasingly look for trusted and reliable information, ready to-use methods and open-source solutions that would allow them to assess the state, dynamics and drivers of change regarding land resources, livelihoods, social protections and equity indicators.

There is a need for enhanced monitoring approaches that stakeholders can use to achieve their own goals, but that would also be perceived as transparent and legitimate by other stakeholders. They should also support accountability of all stakeholders within the framework of the Paris Agreement.


It is clear that beyond the efforts of national governments to monitor their emissions from the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, there is a need for additional monitoring approaches. A recent infobrief published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) provides insight into the role of independent monitoring approaches in enhancing transparency in the land use sector.

Results from a multi-stakeholder survey show that independent monitoring does not mean one specific tool, but rather a diversity of approaches with the purpose of increasing transparency and broadening stakeholder participation by providing free and open methods, data, and tools complementary to mandated reporting by national governments.

The CIFOR study gives key recommendations on how stakeholders can engage and benefit from independent monitoring. The authors recommend developing a practice of ‘data bridging’, not imposing a one-size-fits-all system, but rather simplifying and streamlining the dialogue between data users and producers.

The scientific community could play an important role by developing harmonized reference data, and guidance and training materials to make the best use of available data and information sources as it increases opportunities for participation and transparency.

Countries seeking to implement forest and agriculture-related mitigation actions could increase the use of open and ready-to-use tools to encourage participatory monitoring.

UNFCCC negotiators and reviewers could contribute by providing modalities and good practice guidelines for enhancing transparency and accountability in the land-use sector.

While the report provides a good starting point for discussions on enhanced transparency in the land use sector and the implications for monitoring, there are many other thorny issues that need to be considered going forth.

One major challenge will be to integrate biophysical information, obtained by field inventories and remote sensing, with survey and census data on livelihoods, social protection and equity indicators to better understand land use dynamics.

We should not only monitor climate goals, but also institutional change and social processes, which makes this even more complicated. Multiple sources and types of monitoring and reporting (i.e. national forest monitoring system, independent monitoring, private sector commitment tracking) will have to co-exist and be integrated into a multi-level, flexible and diverse system.

This is clearly an enormous task that demands a transdisciplinary approach. Enhancing transparency will require a giant effort, but it will hopefully lead to much-needed transformational changes to realize the full potential of the Paris Agreement, and beyond.

For more information on this topic, please contact Niki de Sy at [email protected] or Christopher Martius at [email protected]
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

  • Home
  • FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals

FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals

Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
Posted by


Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition

By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

An increasing number of states are embracing commitments made under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise. But how do these grand ambitions play out in reality?

In practice, climate action gains traction at the ground level — ‘where the rubber hits the road’, so to speak — and that requires collaboration among a whole range of different stakeholders.

Besides national governments, subnational governments are increasingly involved in action on climate change in the land use and forestry sectors. Non-state actors, including indigenous groups (which sometimes own and manage important territories), non-governmental organizations and the private sector, are also playing a growing role.

So how can the efforts of these various groups be best coordinated to meet national and international pledges, bringing real action on climate change?

A political world

Anne Larson, a Principal Scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), has led research on this issue in five countries as part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, including two national studies on systems of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV).

Planting Mangroves. Photo: Putu Budhiadnya for 2016 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
Planting Mangroves. Photo: Putu Budhiadnya for 2016 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition

She says that even with apparently technical issues like MRV, political tensions tend to emerge both horizontally and vertically among stakeholder groups when trying to turn ideas into reality. This shouldn’t discourage efforts to take action but suggests that we need to take a different approach.

“We can’t ignore political realities,” she says. “We have many great ideas, but no matter how great they might sound technically, we always bump into reality when we hit the ground and try to start implementing.”

Also read: FTA project update: Understanding REDD+ across the globe

“Politics is not necessarily good or bad, it just is. We need to embrace this and learn to work in this reality.”

Pham Thu Thuy, another CIFOR scientist involved in the study, says her research in Vietnam found that politics not only influenced coordination, but also shaped perceptions of goals and challenges among different levels of governance.

“Different levels perceive different problems. But also how they actually define the problem is based on their own perception and their political interest,” Thuy says.

The answer to coordinating those differences, she says, is to take a landscape approach.

Click to read: Exploring the agency of Africa in climate change negotiations: the case of REDD+
Click to read: Exploring the agency of Africa in climate change negotiations: the case of REDD+

You have to be aware of these politics and think about how you can bring together every piece of information and every active group to make a policy work,” she says.

“And I think that for the land-use system, if you want something to work, basically it has to be at the landscape level.”

A landscape view

At the Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakesh, subnational and non-state actors were invited to share their perspectives on the matter of catalyzing action on the ground.

The term ‘non-state actors’ includes researchers, civil society and other community-level groups, but via global climate negotiations in recent years has become shorthand for the private sector.

Also read: COP22 Special: REDD+ monitoring is a technical and political balancing act

Bruce Cabarle, Team Leader of Partnerships for Forests, an initiative for investment in sustainable use of land and forests, said in discussion at GLF that public-private-people partnerships were key to applying lessons learned into the future.

“The more interesting question is: How do we get synergies and complementarity between voluntary certification schemes and government regulations so that they are mutually reinforcing?” he asked.

Christoph Thies, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace, welcomed cooperative efforts among sectors, but maintained that states should take the lead.

“The private sector should never replace the roles and responsibilities of governments,” he said.

For Thies, the answer lies in understanding political factors as both challenges and opportunities for change.

“Technical barriers can be overcome,” he said. “To really address the landscape requires political will.”

On the ground

Fernando Sampaio, Executive Director of the PCI (Produce, Conserve and Include) Strategy State Committee in Mato Grosso, Brazil, acknowledged the importance of both private-sector and civil society involvement in ground-level efforts, from a subnational government perspective.

“The private sector is an important part of the process, but we also need to include other stakeholders who are excluded from the process,” he said.

Excluded groups often include indigenous peoples, whose land rights are not always recognized. Norvin Goff, President of MASTA, an indigenous federation that represents the Miskitus of the Honduran Mosquitia, said that blueprint approaches to land and forest use rarely work at the ground level for indigenous communities.

“We don’t need a set formula that has been used in the past, we need to create an approach together,” Goff said.

He urged closer partnerships between government and indigenous groups.

“Instead of an enemy, they should consider us as part of the solution,” he said.

  • Home
  • Minimizing the footprint of our food by reducing emissions from all land uses

Minimizing the footprint of our food by reducing emissions from all land uses

Posted by


Autors: van Noordwijk M , Dewi S , Minang P A


Twenty-four years after the formulation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement will come into force by November 2016 and finally provide an umbrella for addressing fossil fuel as well as land-use aspects of the human impacton the global climate. Its preamble (as well as article 2) emphasizes the primary concern over continued food production. The Policy Brief addresses whether or not accounting systems and accountability further shift towards “footprints” per unit product, aligned with emission accounting from all land uses, not “just” forests. Nationally Determined Contributions emphasize he supply side of accounting (land use, fossil energy use). The “drivers” are the demand-side relations with human wellbeing and Individually Determined Contributions, to which the private sector responds with various claims on deforestation-free or carbon-neutral value chains.

Published at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

Publication year: 2016

Full text

  • Home
  • Enhancing transparency in the land sector under the Paris Agreement: Non-state actors and corporate pledges, from rhetoric to reality

Enhancing transparency in the land sector under the Paris Agreement: Non-state actors and corporate pledges, from rhetoric to reality

Posted by


Key messages

  • Article 13 of the Paris Agreement calls for enhanced transparency in climate actions. At the same time, non-state actors (NSAs) are increasingly referred to within the text of decisions and initiatives by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, the continued use of such a broad and undefined term to represent a complex set of stakeholders – ranging from academia to private sector, civil society to indigenous peoples groups – is unhelpful. There cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to NSAs
  • The private sector is a complex and diverse sub-set of NSAs, with significant variations in capacity, motivations and priorities across companies and value chains. Their response to climate change will be key to setting and achieving the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) made by Parties to the UNFCCC.
  • A large number of international corporations have made voluntary commitments to reduce their negative environmental and social impacts in the agriculture and forestry sectors, within their own operations as well as those of third-party suppliers. Many of these pledges have now been registered on the UNFCCC non-state actor platform (NAZCA). As yet, however, there is no systematic way to track and verify these pledges and their impacts.
  • One major risk is that stringent and rapidly implemented corporate commitments related to sustainable and ‘deforestation free’ supply chains will exclude already marginalized smallholders, who often operate within broader informal economies, resulting in indirect detrimental social and environmental impacts. Aside from the Cancun safeguards, such risks remain unrecognized by the UNFCCC.
  • Public funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), could be used to financially support smallholders and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and upgrade their production systems through the adoption of improved practices and by facilitating their access to sustainable supply chains.
  • Governments, indigenous peoples groups and civil society organizations, as well as corporations themselves, are monitoring the progress and impact of NSA pledges at different spatial scales. But significant challenges remain regarding the alignment of methods, metrics and data sets, disclosure of information, and the verification and monitoring of indirect impacts.
  • There is currently no systematic way to track delivery of voluntary commitments through transparent processes that are open to wider society. Additional efforts, including national and international political architectures are needed.
  • There is justification for the UNFCCC to develop guidance around NSA engagement in climate mitigation and adaptation actions. This can help to distinguish between different groups of NSAs and track the activities undertaken by diverse private sector actors, to better understand how they contribute to achieving NDCs.

Authors: Gnych, S.; Leonard, S.; Pacheco, P.; Lawry, S.; Martius, C.

Topic: climate change, adaptation, mitigation

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 157

Pages: 8p.

Published at: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia

Publication Year: 2016

DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006257

Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us