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  • SDG synergy between agriculture and forestry in the food, energy, water and income nexus: reinventing agroforestry?

SDG synergy between agriculture and forestry in the food, energy, water and income nexus: reinventing agroforestry?

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Among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) three broad groups coexist: first, articulating demand for further human resource appropriation, second, sustaining the resource base, and third, redistributing power and benefits. Agriculture and forestry jointly interact with all three. The SDG portfolio calls for integrated land use management. Technological alternatives shift the value of various types of land use (forests, trees and agricultural practices) as source of ‘ecosystem services’. At the interface of agriculture and forestry the 40-year old term agroforestry has described technologies (AF1) and an approach to multifunctional landscape management (AF2). A broadened Land Equivalence Ratio (LER) as performance metric indicates efficiency. Agroforestry also is an opportunity to transcend barriers between agriculture and forestry as separate policy domains (AF3). Synergy between policy domains can progress from recognized tradeoffs and accepted coexistence, via common implementation frames, to space for shared innovation. Further institutional space for integral ‘all-land-uses’ approaches is needed.

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  • Playing a bigger role in global monitoring of SDGs

Playing a bigger role in global monitoring of SDGs

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Women take part in a mapping workshop in Nyangania, Ghana. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

UN Women’s 2018 flagship report on gender and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender perspective, and takes stock of their performance to date. 

The report calls for greater collaboration between researchers, governments and women’s organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, gender coordinator for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gender scientist, recently published a brief evaluating the report.

In this second installment of a two-part series, she analyzes the report and its implications for the CGIAR gender research community, reflecting upon entry points for CGIAR to respond to this call.

According to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, gender specific Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 5, and the mainstreaming of gender across the 17 other goals, is evidence that: “gender equality is a goal in its own right and a powerful force for upholding the main promise of the 2030 Agenda: to leave no one behind” (UN Women 2018, 2).

However, in its newly released flagship report monitoring each SDG from a gender and social inclusion perspective, UN Women finds that only six out of the 17 goals are gender sensitive (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16); five goals are gender sparse (SDGs 2, 19, 11, 13 and 17) and the remaining six are gender blind (SDGs 6, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 15). The available gender data presents gaps. There is inadequate investment and funding for additional or quality data collection. Data collection methodologies (e.g. censuses, labor surveys) present deep biases which prevent them from collecting reliable, gender disaggregated data.

Read more: What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

According to the report, such monitoring is essential to: translate global commitments to results; offer space for public debate and democratic decision-making; determine each stakeholder’s (governments, citizens, civil society organizations, private sector) roles and responsibilities and strengthen accountability for actions or omissions (UN Women 2018, 24-25).

As a reminder, UN Women calls for greater and concerted effort among governments, researchers and women’s rights organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. How so? By tracking progress against the goals, identifying achievements and gaps, and highlighting implementation challenges and opportunities.

As a global collective focusing on agriculture and natural resource management research in multiple countries and contexts across Africa, Asia and Latin America, the CGIAR gender research community is uniquely positioned to contribute to such endeavors.

In this blog, I reflect upon how the CGIAR gender research community can contribute more significantly towards future global efforts to monitor the SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective. This is the second part of a two-tier blog, the first of which unpacks the report and highlights its strengths and limitations.

Read more: UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs – What’s the role for the CGIAR?

A team works together during a REDD+ workshop in Peru. Photo by Marlon del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR

Limited contribution of CGIAR gender researchers and research publications

The UN Women report does not significantly showcase CGIAR gender researchers and research publications. This is remarkable, considering the impressive number of academics, practitioners and policy makers, both within and outside the United Nations system, who have played a role as team members in writing the report, background paper authors, advisory members and reviewers. The report also features a comprehensive reference list combining both foundational and recent publications.

A quick search through the report returned only one CGIAR gender researcher (Sophia Huyer), acknowledged for her contribution as a report reviewer. Prominent CGIAR gender researchers are scarcely referenced: Cheryl Doss is referenced twice; Agnes Quisumbing once; Carol Colfer, Cynthia McDougall, Lone Badstue, Anne Larson, Esther Mwangi, Margreet Zwarteveen and Paula Kantor receive no mention. All of these authors are among CGIAR gender researchers who have contributed high quality publications on topics that are relevant to SDGs from a gender perspective – i.e. poverty, food security, inequality, land and water.

That said, direct participation of researchers and/or citation of their work may not be an effective way of measuring CGIAR research’s influence. Although Ruth Meinzen-Dick is not directly cited in the report, one of her well-recognized arguments that women’s land rights must be measured in terms of a ‘bundle of rights[1], Meizen-Dick et al. 2014; Meizen-Dick et al. 2018; Ribot and Peluso 2003) is included, under the sub-section on ‘Spotlight on women’s equal rights to land’ (111).

As a gender researcher from CIFOR, working on FTA, I was particularly drawn to the report’s coverage on SDG 15 – ‘Life on Land’. One of CIFOR and FTA’s flagship publications on the gender dimensions of palm oil expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia (Li 2014, 2018) is featured as Case Study Box 3.3. This publication also contributes to the report’s broader argument that SDG implementation cannot be left to the private sector, and that governments need to drive the agenda, with civil society organizations supporting these efforts and holding government representatives to account.

However, the CIFOR study is (mis)presented in a way that pits local women against men. The report wrongly suggests that the deforestation and dispossession resulting from palm oil expansion in West Kalimantan have harmed local women and benefitted local men. The differentiated effects of palm oil expansion on diverse categories of women (painstakingly documented in the CIFOR publication) are not mentioned at all. This is unfortunate, given that Chapter 3 (‘Moving beyond averages’) examines the intersection between gender and other social difference axes in order to get to the roots of marginalization.

Suggestions and future: ‘strategic entry points’ and ‘getting house in order’

The CGIAR gender community could intervene in various areas.

CGIAR research can be leveraged to monitor against multiple SDGs. CGIAR research programs indeed focus on climate action (SDG 13), water (SDG 6), land and forests (SDG 15), fisheries (SDG 11) and energy (SDG 7). And all CGIAR research programs share Poverty (SDG 1), food security (SDGs 2 and 3), inequalities (SDG 10), employment and livelihoods (SDG 8) as cross-cutting concerns.

Guidance notes and training products developed by CGIAR gender researchers can be used to transform existing data collection methods to better capture lived realities of women. This could include the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets’ ‘Standards for collecting sex-disaggregated data’ (Doss and Kieran 2014); FTA’s ‘Practical tips for conducting gender responsive data collection’ (Elias et al. 2014); and the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems’  publications on measuring gender transformative change (Hillenbrand et al. 2015).

Women from the Mattu community of practice harvest cow pea leaves. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

Innovative, cross-CGIAR research methodologies (such as the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) and GENNOVATE) and their research results can complement the data presented.

Emerging research on intersectionality can help better target policies and efforts.

Current data collection and collation initiatives (including through the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture) may help identify broader patterns of gender inequalities and reform opportunities.

CGIAR gender researchers could play a role in generating synergies between SDGs and other global initiatives, such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) among others.

CGIAR gender researchers may also consider different ways of working so as to play a more prominent role in the 2030 Agenda, for example through:

  • Actively seizing opportunities to inform future reports, including through a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Women team that produces such reports;
  • Capitalizing on relationships with governmental agencies, national statistics offices, and women’s organizations in the countries where we operate, so that we are routinely consulted on national efforts to monitor the SDGs;
  • Demonstrating how our current research contributes to the SDGs, through mapping if, to what extent, and how CGIAR gender research contributes to each of the SDGs;
  • Going beyond binary analyses of ‘women versus men’ to also account for differences within groups of women and men — and broadening our gaze to consider disabilities, sexuality and masculinities in CGIAR gender research;
  • Moving beyond the confines of our specific sectors (agriculture, forestry, water) or commodities (rice, maize etc.) to inform cross-sectoral and national/regional/global efforts;
  • Consolidating and harmonizing our research, research methodologies and findings to have a bigger voice and effect.

In summary, the CGIAR community is uniquely situated to respond to UN Women’s request for greater collaboration among researchers, governments and women’s organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. As our first step in that direction, the CGIAR community could prioritize CGIAR-wide deliberations as to if and how they could play a more meaningful role. This blog contribution offers some ‘food for thought’ for embarking on such a deliberation.

By Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, originally published by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research

[1] comprising documented ownership, ability/right to sell land and ability/right to bequeath land to others.

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  • What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

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A woman and her father-in-law pick up a permit to collect fuelwood in the Chisapani Community Forest, Nepal. Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki/CIFOR

UN Women’s 2018 flagship report on gender and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender perspective, and takes stock of their performance to date. 

In a two-part series, Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, gender coordinator for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gender scientist, analyzes the report and its implications for the CGIAR gender research community. Sijapati Basnett recently published a brief evaluating this role.

With this article, she reviews the strengths and limitations of the UN Women report – Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – for gender researchers wishing to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The highest echelons of the United Nations have hailed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as “a victory for gender equality” [1]. Concerns are mounting, however, over how the SDGs will be interpreted and implemented, and whether they will make a difference to the lives of women and girls the world over.

The UN Women 2018 flagship report offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective, and it takes stock of that performance to date.

The report calls for greater collaboration among governments, researchers and women’s rights organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda. How? By tracking progress against the goals, identifying achievements and gaps, and highlighting implementation challenges and opportunities.

Read more: UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs – What’s the role for the CGIAR?

KEY MESSAGES 

Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development

The report makes a strong case for leveraging data, evidence and analysis, to inform the duties and performance standards of those in positions of power, and to help assess compliance and enforcement of sanctions and remedies where required.

“The ultimate test for the 2030 Agenda will be whether the SDGs are achieved by 2030” (43).

The report’s excellent assessment of the current ‘Global Indicator Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals’ offers strategic entry points for CGIAR (and/or gender researchers outside of CGIAR) to address current limitations in data, methods and analyses. The Global Indicator Framework comprises 232 indicators to track and monitor progress against the SDGs. The Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development is the inter-governmental body responsible for developing and providing technical support for implementation of the framework. The UN Women report also offers conceptual, methodological and policy directions for future CGIAR research.

Some key messages and highlights from the report are listed below.

Strategic entry points

Although gender equality matters to all 17 goals, the current Global Indicator Framework is inadequate for gender responsive monitoring of the SDGs because:

  • Only six of the 17 SDG goals are gender sensitive (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16); five goals are gender sparse (SDG 2, 19, 11, 13 and 17) and the remaining six are gender blind (SDGs 6, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 15).
  • The available gender data presents gaps.
  • There is inadequate investment and funding for additional or quality data collection.
  • Data collection methodologies present deep biases (e.g. censuses, labor surveys).

Upon assessing all 54 gender-specific indicators and analyzing one indicator per goal in detail to illustrate progress, gaps and challenges to date, the report calls for: “serious analytical work that sharpens our understanding of how to capture, measure and monitor meaningful change for women and girls” (73).

The report suggests this gap is particularly clear in new and emerging areas, such as understanding the gender implications of climate change.

Commitment to intersectionality

The report highlights that focusing on women as a group is insufficient to measure progress. Gender inequalities only acquire meaning and significance when they interact and intersect with other social relations. Many women and girls face multiple forms of discrimination – e.g. accessing resources, services and opportunities – based on aspects of their identity that differentiate them from more advantaged groups. It is critical to move beyond averages and to identify and compare how the most marginalized fare on key well-being markers in relation to other groups.

Through four country study summaries (see Chapter 3), the report shows how average aggregate figures on women’s wellbeing often mask significant variations across regions, ethnic, racial and income groups. This is a considerable departure from previous reports that had given lip service to ‘differences among women’ and treated women as a group (UN Women 2014; Asher and Sijapati Basnett 2016).

This is also the first time that a high-profile global report has engaged seriously with feminist concerns with ‘intersectionality’ in a substantial way. While intersectionality has long been considered a ‘gold standard’ for analyzing experiences of identity and oppression in feminist and gender theories, scholars have been concerned that ‘gender’ and ‘gender inequalities’ are simplified, both in policy and practice (Nash 2008; Arora-Jonsson 2014; Ihalainen et al. 2016; Colfer et al. 2018).

Read also: Making sense of ‘intersectionality’: A manual for lovers of people and forests

Spotlight on structural barriers to gender equality 

The report devotes two chapters to structural barriers to gender equality: eliminating all forms of violence against women (Chapter 5); and addressing unpaid care and domestic work (Chapter 6). The Millennium Development Goals, predecessors to the SDGs, were heavily criticized for omitting these dimensions of inequality (see Razavi 2016, Chant and Sweetman 2012, Kabeer 2003).

Chapter 6 of the report highlights that women perform the vast majority of unpaid and care work across the world. The distribution of such work remains the same, despite women increasingly joining the labor force through formal employment.

Policies and interventions aimed at empowering women economically (e.g. through greater involvement in value chains, financial literacy and new livelihood opportunities) must go hand in hand with initiatives to reduce women’s paid and unpaid work burdens, recognize their work and redistribute it within the family, as well as among families and wider institutions.

Policies and accountability

The report clearly highlights what actions are needed, as well as who should be responsible for implementation and accountable for action/inaction. It suggests that governments should prioritize universal systems that are financed and used by everyone, and simultaneously target efforts towards ensuring access for historically excluded groups. This approach offers a stance on a long-standing debate within social policy on ‘universal’ or ‘targeted policies’ for addressing poverty reduction and social inequalities (see Mkandawire 2005).

The report also highlights that governments are primarily responsible for implementation, because other actors cannot be held accountable in the way that governments can (see Chandhoke 2003). The report seeks to temper current enthusiasm around the private sector’s role in realizing the SDGs, drawing attention to the fact that private businesses are not yet bound by any global set of rules on business and human rights, and their actions do not always align with objectives of sustainable development and gender equality (Kabeer 2017).

PITFALLS AND LIMITATIONS 

A couple in a peatland area in Indonesia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

The report also presents pitfalls and limitations from a methodological, conceptual and policy application perspective.

Methodologically, the report mainly privileges quantitative methods over qualitative and mixed methods. The risk here is to imply that any research seeking to monitor the 2030 Global Agenda must comply with pre-existing national datasets (such as national census data and demographic health, labor and living standard measurement surveys) rather than additionally taking advantage of the wide variety of other research available.

Conceptually, Chapter 3 on ‘Moving beyond the averages’ provides only lip service to the risks of using pre-existing categories to identify who the marginalized are and what sustains their marginalization. The chapter does not adequately consider the reality that ‘targeting the poor and the marginalized’ is an inherently political and contested process. Likewise, it presents just one methodological approach (the ‘inter-categorical approach’, see McCall 2015 or Colfer et al. 2018) for examining the intersection between gender and other axes of social difference.

Chapter 6 on ‘Unpaid and care work’ demonstrates this report was written by a committee of writers who do not always write with one voice; this makes the report lack coherence in many places. As such, while most of the chapters point to knowledge and data gaps, Chapter 6 reads more like a definitive guide on how to address women’s unpaid work and care burdens. Likewise, the report’s overall stance against the private sector or corporations is rather dogmatic, and does not offer a realistic way of engaging with them and/or holding their actions to account.

On the question of the potential impact of such reports, the report was published by UN Women rather than by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development or the UN Statistical Commission for the Global Monitoring of 169 SDG Targets. It is therefore unclear whether (and if so, how) the analyses and recommendations offered by the report will inform broader SDG monitoring efforts. Given the global scope of the report, the findings only provide broad brushstrokes of key challenges and opportunities. They must be validated through national and locally relevant monitoring, too.

Despite these limitations and the subsequent need to interpret it with caution, the report is an impressive first attempt at taking stock of performance against each SDG from a gender and social inclusion perspective. It also calls for more concerted SDG monitoring efforts by different actors, including research organizations.

In an upcoming article, I will outline how CGIAR can play a meaningful role in contributing to future efforts to monitor SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective.

By Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, originally published by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research

Notes: [1] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in UN Women 2018, 18

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  • Local communities a driving force behind recovering Africa’s landscapes

Local communities a driving force behind recovering Africa’s landscapes

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The “Voices of the Landscape” panel presents at the Global Landscapes Forum conference in Nairobi. Photo by GLF

Every year, Africa loses 2.8 million hectares of forest, which is an area roughly the size of Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, two-thirds of its land is degraded. 

However, as countries mobilize to restore 100 million hectares by 2030 in the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), local communities are emerging as a driving force behind the movement to recover the continent’s landscapes.

Communities and collaborators across sectors and governance levels have taken center stage at the Global Landscapes Forum – Prospects and Opportunities for Restoration in Africa (GLF). The two-day event, in which several CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) scientists participated, ran from Aug. 29-30 and attracted 800 delegates to UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as 30,000 people online.

“If landscape degradation brings huge costs to society and restoration brings impressive returns, why we are not implementing it?” queried Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), at the opening plenary.

Land degradation is estimated to cost the global economy up to $4.5 trillion a year, while economic benefits of restoration are an estimated $84 billion a year. In Africa, soil and nutrient depletion on cropland costs 3 percent of gross domestic product.

Watch: Robert Nasi’s opening remarks at GLF Nairobi 2018

These factors combined lead Nasi to believe it is time for a paradigm change: “from seeing restoration as a high-cost activity with no financial returns to landowners and with only environmental benefits, to one which provides increased incomes to landowners, creates jobs, and results in ecosystem goods and services for society as a whole.”

PEOPLE AND PLANET

UN Environment head Erik Solheim pointed out the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) boil down to delivering benefits for both people and the planet. “To meet the SDGs we need policies that are good for the jobs, the climate, and nature at the same time. Landscape restoration does just this,” he said.

Solheim reaffirmed his commitment to El Salvador’s proposal for a UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. “The process must be led by member states, so please support El Salvador in this great endeavor,” he urged. The same period might also be devoted to rangelands and pastoralism, further increasing momentum to reclaim healthy landscapes.

Restoration can bring back ecosystem services and landscape functionality, boost agricultural productivity and enhance resilience to climate change – but it can also have even greater benefits, said Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg, country manager for Zambia at the World Bank.

A person pots a seed near Mau Forest in Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR

“The sustainable use of natural resources leads to improved livelihoods, greener economies and food security, while bringing peace, security and stability. Restoring landscapes contributes to preventing natural resource-related conflicts,” Ruthenberg said.

Stefan Schmitz, from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), urged stronger political commitment and better rural governance to unlock the potential for restoration.

“Good governance is a prerequisite for sustainable rural development,” said Schmitz, who is deputy director-general and commissioner of the BMZ One World – No Hunger Initiative.

“People will only use resources sustainably provided they do not live in extreme poverty. If they have no choice, they will continue engaging in land degradation and deforestation.”

Read more: FTA at GLF Bonn 2017: From rainfall recycling to landscape restoration

VOICES OF THE LANDSCAPE

For the first time in the five-year history of the GLF, local community representatives constituted a plenary session to discuss key achievements and how they could be brought to scale.

The panelists included Haidar El Ali, who has led the world’s largest mangrove restoration project, and Daniel Kobei, who has contributed to securing the indigenous Ogiek people’s rights to Kenya’s Mau forest as their ancestral home.

Another panelist, Zipporah Matumbi, has rallied thousands of rural women around forest restoration in Mount Kenya, significantly improving their livelihoods, while Lassane Zorome (represented by Serge Zoubga) has led fellow farmers to turn 200 hectares of barren land into productive fields in Burkina Faso.

For communities, restoring landscapes is, first of all, about improving their own livelihoods. Forests in Mount Kenya were very much degraded and we, rural women, had a hard time accessing water and fuelwood,” said Matumbi, representative of Voices from the Landscape. “We are eager to engage in restoration because, otherwise, we suffer.”

“Restoring forest landscapes is even a matter of survival to prevent an escalation of conflicts related to use of land and resources,” added Zoubga, program officer at Tiipaalga Association in Burkina Faso.

Local initiatives offer lessons that can help replicate success stories across the continent. For founder of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program Daniel Kobei, for example, “restoration can only succeed by involving communities and giving them the chance to use their traditional knowledge.”

“We cannot restore land in the place of populations,” agreed Zoubga from Burkina Faso. “We must build their capacities, so they can act against land degradation.”

A mixed-use landscape is seen in South West and West Mau Forest. Photo by S. Murunga/CIFOR

For restoration to be successful, “we must also get communities to understand the benefits it brings, from increased agricultural yields to regulation of soil salinity,” said president of Oceanium and former fisheries minister of Senegal, Haidar El Ali.

Concepta Mukasa, program manager of Forestry and the Environment at AUPWAE, concluded that “scale-up can only happen if national and subnational governments make restoration a priority and involve communities and women in the process.”

In fact, restoration activities are already shifting gender relations in some areas, meaning that women are now allowed to plant trees freely, “something crucial for scale up,” said CIFOR senior scientist and session moderator, Esther Mwangi, whose work is also a part of FTA.

Read more: FTA seeks to influence debate at GLF Peatlands Matter in 2017

JOINT DESTINY

Over 70 percent of people living in sub-Saharan Africa depend on forests and woodlands for their livelihoods, but desertification touches 45 percent of the land on the continent and 65 percent of croplands are affected by land degradation.

Yet, Africa has 600 million hectares of both agricultural and forested landscapes with potential for restoration, and countries have committed to restoring 100 million hectares by 2030 through AFR100.

“It’s great to see — today we have already 26 countries that have committed to bringing 91 million hectares of forests under restoration,” Schmitz said, adding that competing sectors create challenges.

“There is, on the one hand, the sphere of landscapes, of natural resources, of restoration,” he said. “On the other, there is the agriculture and food system, and the challenge is to really bring those two universes together.”

Restoration work can support agriculture by providing jobs and other economic benefits, Schmitz said. “The more we succeed in providing employment and income for local communities, the more it is likely that we’ll be able to succeed in our restoration efforts. It will require a mix of national, international private and public funding.”

A delegation from Kenya’s Forest Service described the successes of a major restoration project underway in the Mau Forest, which contributes to the country’s 5.1 million hectare AFR100 target.

“In a very short time we saw results from this intervention,” said Jerome Mwanzia, explaining how livelihood benefits were introduced through tree planting, agroforestry, livestock and beekeeping initiatives to incorporate income generating activities. “We had small animals colonizing the area,” he said. “The animals were coming back — this ecosystem was regenerated.”

Despite successes in the massive catchment area, hurdles remain for meeting the full AFR100 pledge.

“Financing is going to be a major determinant as to whether we achieve targets — and the issue of community buy in,” said Alfred Gichu, who manages a broad portfolio at the Kenya Forest Service, including the climate change program, the landscape restoration initiative and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program.

Summing up, Solheim said he believes regional global goals can only be achieved through collaboration. From his perspective, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said it best: “More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny; we can only master it if we face it together.”

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at the Global Landscapes Forum’s Landscape News.

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

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  • Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

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A display of giant pandas greets attendees at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

A new declaration is paving the way for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forest conservation. 

Bamboo and rattan are important – but critically overlooked – non-timber forest products. These plants have huge potential to restore degraded land, build earthquake-resilient housing, reduce deforestation, and provide jobs for millions of people in rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Despite this, bamboo and rattan are often regarded as ‘poor man’s timber’, and households, governments and businesses have yet to realize their full potential.

This image problem may be about to change. On 25-27 June, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) cohosted the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) in Beijing, China. At the Congress, 1,200 participants from almost 70 countries took part in discussions about the uses of bamboo and rattan in agroforestry, their ecosystem services, and their contribution to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inspiring innovation

Speakers included Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, and Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Both highlighted problems of forest governance, and the role that innovative bamboo and rattan uses can play in this regard. Indeed, innovation was a key theme of the event. Throughout the three-day Congress, entrepreneurs exhibited innovative products: from wind turbines and bicycles to heavy-duty drainage pipes and flat-pack housing made with bamboo. Fast-growing and quick to mature, with the properties of hardwood, bamboo can provide an important low-carbon replacement for cement, plastics, steel and timber.

An equally important point, raised in many discussions, was NTFPs’ potential to create incomes for the rural poor. Throughout BARC, participants heard from speakers who had created businesses with bamboo: from Bernice Dapaah, who has founded an internationally recognized bamboo bicycle company in Ghana, to entrepreneurs from countries in Southeast Asia, where many communities rely on rattan for up to 50% of their cash income. According to INBAR Director General Hans Friederich, the bamboo and rattan sector employs almost 10 million people in China alone, proving that there are many possibilities for these plants to contribute to FTA’s core research themes.

Read also: Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

A bamboo bicycle is pictured on the first day of the Congress. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

Storing carbon 

The potential for bamboo to complement forests’ role as carbon sinks was much discussed. A new report, launched at BARC, shows how certain species of bamboos’ fast rate of carbon storage makes them a very competitive tool for carbon sequestration. In an important announcement in plenary, Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director-General of NFGA, suggested that bamboo could become part of offset projects in China’s new emissions trading scheme – a statement with huge potential for bamboo management.

And in a striking statement of support for bamboo’s use as a carbon sink, Dr. Li Nuyun, Executive Vice-President of the China Green Carbon Fund, stated that her organization would help establish a bamboo plantation in Yunnan province, China. Over time, the plantation will aim to sequester the estimated 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted over the course of the Congress – making BARC a ‘zero-carbon’ event.

Protecting biodiversity

Biodiversity management was the theme of a number of sessions. In a session on the Giant Panda, speakers from Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society in China, and the World Wildlife Fund committed their support toward a potential planning workshop in early 2019. The workshop would discuss how to take a holistic approach to biodiversity protection, which integrates bamboo management, panda protection and natural heritage conservation.

Read also: Study examines bamboo value chains to support industry growth

Offering ‘win-wins’

As many of the discussions showed, bamboo and rattan are often used because they offer more than one solution. Bamboo charcoal is such a case. As a clean-burning, locally growing source of energy, bamboo charcoal can significantly reduce stress on slower-growing forest resources. However, it can also form an important revenue source for individuals, particularly women.

Dancille Mukakamari, the Rwanda National Coordinator for the Africa Women’s Network for Sustainable Development, described how “charcoal is crucial for women in Africa”. And Gloria Adu, a successful Ghana-based entrepreneur who has been making bamboo charcoal for several decades, emphasized its huge potential for deforestation prevention, mentioning that almost three-quarters of Ghanaian forest loss came through charcoal production.

The road from BARC

Flags represent the countries in attendance at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

If bamboo and rattan are so important, then why are they not more widely used? A lack of awareness is one factor. According to many of the private sector representatives at BARC, the absence of clear customs codes for bamboo and rattan, or specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of products, has prevented their uptake.

Ignorance is only part of the problem, however. Although people are increasingly aware about bamboo and rattan’s properties, more needs to be done to share technologies and innovative uses. Speaking in plenary, entrepreneur and author of The Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli, said it best: “The science is already there. We don’t have to convince people about bamboo, we have to inspire them – and bamboo is an inspiring product.”

The Congress made an important step forward in this need to ‘inspire’ change. On the first day, INBAR and the International Fund for Agriculture announced the launch of a new project, which plans to share Chinese bamboo industry expertise and technologies with four countries in Africa. The initiative aims to benefit 30,000 rural smallholder farmers and community members across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, who will be taught about how to plant, manage and create value-added products using bamboo.

BARC also saw an outpouring of political support for bamboo and rattan. A number of heads of state and development organization leaders provided video messages in support of bamboo and rattan. And in a plenary session, John Hardy, the TED talk speaker and founder of the Bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia, offered to offset his lifetime carbon emissions using bamboo, in a demonstration of the plant’s carbon storage potential.

Read also: Mapping bamboo forest resources in East Africa

The Beijing Declaration

With three plenary events, 75 side sessions and a lot of inspiration, BARC showed that there is clearly growing interest in bamboo and rattan for forest management. Announced on the third and final day of the Congress, the Beijing Declaration aimed to put all these commitments into action. Written on behalf of “ministers, senior officials, and participants”, the Declaration lays out bamboo and rattan’s contributions as “a critical part of forests and ecosystems”, and calls upon governments to support the plants’ development in forestry and related initiatives.

According to INBAR’s Friederich, “The Beijing Declaration stands to make a real difference in the way bamboo and rattan are included in forest practices. Far from being poor man’s timber, this Congress has shown that bamboo and rattan are truly green gold. Now we need to focus on the road from BARC – how to make these plants a vital part of the way we manage forests, and the environment.”

Given their relevance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, their role in supporting sustainable forest conservation and their importance to smallholder livelihoods, bamboo and rattan are key NFTPs for the realization of FTA’s core aims. As the Congress showed, the key challenge now is to integrate these plants into forest management, and promote their central role in sustainable development.

By Charlotte King, INBAR international communications specialist. 

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  • Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

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A display of giant pandas greets attendees at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

A new declaration is paving the way for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forest conservation. 

Bamboo and rattan are important – but critically overlooked – non-timber forest products. These plants have huge potential to restore degraded land, build earthquake-resilient housing, reduce deforestation, and provide jobs for millions of people in rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Despite this, bamboo and rattan are often regarded as ‘poor man’s timber’, and households, governments and businesses have yet to realize their full potential.

This image problem may be about to change. On 25-27 June, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) cohosted the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) in Beijing, China. At the Congress, 1,200 participants from almost 70 countries took part in discussions about the uses of bamboo and rattan in agroforestry, their ecosystem services, and their contribution to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inspiring innovation

Speakers included Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, and Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Both highlighted problems of forest governance, and the role that innovative bamboo and rattan uses can play in this regard. Indeed, innovation was a key theme of the event. Throughout the three-day Congress, entrepreneurs exhibited innovative products: from wind turbines and bicycles to heavy-duty drainage pipes and flat-pack housing made with bamboo. Fast-growing and quick to mature, with the properties of hardwood, bamboo can provide an important low-carbon replacement for cement, plastics, steel and timber.

An equally important point, raised in many discussions, was NTFPs’ potential to create incomes for the rural poor. Throughout BARC, participants heard from speakers who had created businesses with bamboo: from Bernice Dapaah, who has founded an internationally recognized bamboo bicycle company in Ghana, to entrepreneurs from countries in Southeast Asia, where many communities rely on rattan for up to 50% of their cash income. According to INBAR Director General Hans Friederich, the bamboo and rattan sector employs almost 10 million people in China alone, proving that there are many possibilities for these plants to contribute to FTA’s core research themes.

Read also: Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

A bamboo bicycle is pictured on the first day of the Congress. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

Storing carbon 

The potential for bamboo to complement forests’ role as carbon sinks was much discussed. A new report, launched at BARC, shows how certain species of bamboos’ fast rate of carbon storage makes them a very competitive tool for carbon sequestration. In an important announcement in plenary, Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director-General of NFGA, suggested that bamboo could become part of offset projects in China’s new emissions trading scheme – a statement with huge potential for bamboo management.

And in a striking statement of support for bamboo’s use as a carbon sink, Dr. Li Nuyun, Executive Vice-President of the China Green Carbon Fund, stated that her organization would help establish a bamboo plantation in Yunnan province, China. Over time, the plantation will aim to sequester the estimated 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted over the course of the Congress – making BARC a ‘zero-carbon’ event.

Protecting biodiversity

Biodiversity management was the theme of a number of sessions. In a session on the Giant Panda, speakers from Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society in China, and the World Wildlife Fund committed their support toward a potential planning workshop in early 2019. The workshop would discuss how to take a holistic approach to biodiversity protection, which integrates bamboo management, panda protection and natural heritage conservation.

Read also: Study examines bamboo value chains to support industry growth

Offering ‘win-wins’

As many of the discussions showed, bamboo and rattan are often used because they offer more than one solution. Bamboo charcoal is such a case. As a clean-burning, locally growing source of energy, bamboo charcoal can significantly reduce stress on slower-growing forest resources. However, it can also form an important revenue source for individuals, particularly women.

Dancille Mukakamari, the Rwanda National Coordinator for the Africa Women’s Network for Sustainable Development, described how “charcoal is crucial for women in Africa”. And Gloria Adu, a successful Ghana-based entrepreneur who has been making bamboo charcoal for several decades, emphasized its huge potential for deforestation prevention, mentioning that almost three-quarters of Ghanaian forest loss came through charcoal production.

The road from BARC

Flags represent the countries in attendance at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

If bamboo and rattan are so important, then why are they not more widely used? A lack of awareness is one factor. According to many of the private sector representatives at BARC, the absence of clear customs codes for bamboo and rattan, or specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of products, has prevented their uptake.

Ignorance is only part of the problem, however. Although people are increasingly aware about bamboo and rattan’s properties, more needs to be done to share technologies and innovative uses. Speaking in plenary, entrepreneur and author of The Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli, said it best: “The science is already there. We don’t have to convince people about bamboo, we have to inspire them – and bamboo is an inspiring product.”

The Congress made an important step forward in this need to ‘inspire’ change. On the first day, INBAR and the International Fund for Agriculture announced the launch of a new project, which plans to share Chinese bamboo industry expertise and technologies with four countries in Africa. The initiative aims to benefit 30,000 rural smallholder farmers and community members across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, who will be taught about how to plant, manage and create value-added products using bamboo.

BARC also saw an outpouring of political support for bamboo and rattan. A number of heads of state and development organization leaders provided video messages in support of bamboo and rattan. And in a plenary session, John Hardy, the TED talk speaker and founder of the Bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia, offered to offset his lifetime carbon emissions using bamboo, in a demonstration of the plant’s carbon storage potential.

Read also: Mapping bamboo forest resources in East Africa

The Beijing Declaration

With three plenary events, 75 side sessions and a lot of inspiration, BARC showed that there is clearly growing interest in bamboo and rattan for forest management. Announced on the third and final day of the Congress, the Beijing Declaration aimed to put all these commitments into action. Written on behalf of “ministers, senior officials, and participants”, the Declaration lays out bamboo and rattan’s contributions as “a critical part of forests and ecosystems”, and calls upon governments to support the plants’ development in forestry and related initiatives.

According to INBAR’s Friederich, “The Beijing Declaration stands to make a real difference in the way bamboo and rattan are included in forest practices. Far from being poor man’s timber, this Congress has shown that bamboo and rattan are truly green gold. Now we need to focus on the road from BARC – how to make these plants a vital part of the way we manage forests, and the environment.”

Given their relevance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, their role in supporting sustainable forest conservation and their importance to smallholder livelihoods, bamboo and rattan are key NFTPs for the realization of FTA’s core aims. As the Congress showed, the key challenge now is to integrate these plants into forest management, and promote their central role in sustainable development.

By Charlotte King, INBAR international communications specialist. 

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  • Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

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INBAR Director General Hans Friederich is pictured among bamboo plants. Credit: International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

Ahead of the Global Bamboo and Rattan Conference (BARC) on June 25-27, 2018, the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation’s (INBAR) Director General Hans Friederich spoke with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) about the versatility and potential of bamboo and rattan, and what can be expected from the upcoming conference. 

Set to take place in Beijing, China, BARC will be the world’s first international, policy-focused conference on how the “green tools” of bamboo and rattan can benefit sustainable development. It is being coorganized by INBAR, an intergovernmental organization comprising 43 member states, which is one of FTA’s strategic partner institutions.

This year marks the first ever BARC. What has prompted INBAR and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration to organize this policy-focused conference?

INBAR has worked to promote bamboo and rattan for sustainable development since 1997, and we have never before seen so much international interest. Last year, for our 20th anniversary, INBAR received messages from two heads of state: His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of China, and His Excellency Mulatu Teshome, President of Ethiopia. INBAR also became an Observer to the UN General Assembly and welcomed its 43rd member state.

To quote a senior official from our flag-raising ceremony [for INBAR’s new member state, Brazil] last year: “The time is right for bamboo and rattan!” Overall, 2018 feels like the perfect year to bring people together and push for realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential.

It is worth mentioning that we are holding our conference in China, INBAR’s host country and home of the world’s largest bamboo sector. The Chinese government has always been supportive of INBAR’s efforts, and uses bamboo for everything from land restoration and poverty alleviation to climate change mitigation. What better place to hold the first Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress?

What makes bamboo and rattan so versatile and suitable as an alternative to materials such as PVC, steel and concrete – and what makes them such strategic plants for contributing to the achievement of the SDGs? 

Bamboo and rattan are amazing plants. We have counted some 10,000 ways in which they can be used. Bamboo is taxonomically a grass, and it grows incredibly fast — you can literally hear and see some species grow — but it also has all the properties of hardwood.

This makes it an important low-carbon alternative for everything from paper and packaging to fuel and flooring. The industrial applications are also huge. Companies in China are starting to build wind turbine blades and drainage pipes from bamboo. Rattan, meanwhile, is a very important source of income for rural communities, who use it to make handicrafts and furniture.

What makes bamboo and rattan so powerful for sustainable development is their local availability to the rural poor. These plants grow in the tropics and subtropics — all but one of INBAR’s 43 member states are based in this belt — and can be grown and harvested close to homes. Communities can use them to create an income, restore their land or feed their animals — all the while preventing deforestation and climate change mitigation.

Children look out from a bamboo construction in Ecuador. Credit: International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

Could you explain the concept of “green tools”? 

There is more and more talk about finding nature-based solutions to development problems. How can we improve the wellbeing of people in a way that also benefits the environment? So often, nature has the solutions — we just need to apply them in the most suitable way.

Bamboo is a great example of a green tool. At INBAR we’ve used bamboo around the world to restore degraded land, and as part of climate-smart farming systems. As well as improving soil quality and preventing water runoff, bamboo improves farmers’ incomes and can provide a clean-burning, renewable source of fuel. And, of course, when well managed, bamboo can benefit biodiversity, providing a source of food and habitat for a wide range of animals.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation is one of FTA’s key research areas. In what ways can bamboo and rattan contribute to combating climate change? 

Bamboo has huge potential as a means for climate change mitigation. Some species store carbon at a rate of almost 13 tons per hectare per year: faster than several species of tree.  Durable bamboo products also lock in carbon for the extent of the products’ lifespan.

As well as this, bamboo and rattan can help communities adapt to the effects of a changing climate. Bamboo housing is flexible, durable and earthquake-resilient. More generally, bamboo and rattan can provide an important income stream to households whose livelihoods are negatively affected by climate change. Many INBAR member states are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, so we take this part of our mandate very seriously.

Finally, we are working with a number of countries to realise the potential of bamboo energy. Bamboo can be burned directly, or converted into charcoal and gas, providing a cleaner-burning and renewable source of biomass for rural communities.

How can bamboo and rattan support local communities and livelihoods, at the same time as providing environmental benefits? 

There are many INBAR examples I could use, but perhaps the best one is Chishui, China. Chishui is one of China’s most famous hometowns of bamboo, with almost 100,000 ha of bamboo forest. A lot of Chishui residents are also very poor, and a large number have to emigrate to find work.

INBAR has worked with the local government in Chishui on a number of projects, to help restore degraded land and reforest areas using bamboo. The socioeconomic impacts were extraordinary. Within six months of one project, farmers were earning money from selling bamboo shoots, and using bamboo to feed their livestock. Within a few years, 40 per cent of migrant workers in nearby Guangdong were returning home to Chishui; three-quarters of them are now involved in the bamboo sector.

What’s particularly interesting about the Chishui example is how homegrown bamboo enterprises can help women. We see this in our member states across the world — women use bamboo because it is easy to collect and process, can be grown in home gardens, and can be used to make a lot of products with no special machinery or setup costs. One woman in Chishui, Mrs. Lu Huaying, started off making small carved bamboo handicrafts, and now runs an enterprise worth some RMB 2 million a year!

Clouds drift over a bamboo forest in China. Credit: International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

In your opinion, how can governments, international organisations and the private sector work together on bamboo and rattan?

INBAR and FTA know why bamboo and rattan are strategic tools for sustainable development — now we need to make these plants part of the conversation at a global level.

Bamboo and rattan can make a real contribution to the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Bonn Challenge for reforestation, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They can also become a key material in sustainable infrastructure and trade. One of the reasons we are holding BARC is to provide a platform for people to share ideas and start this conversation: How can bamboo and rattan benefit my work?

What outcomes are you hoping to see at BARC in terms of national and global policy? 

INBAR expects to launch or facilitate a number of new initiatives at BARC. We will sign a major new agreement with the International Fund for Agricultural Development to work across Africa, sharing experiences from working with farmers in Ethiopia and Madagascar with communities in Cameroon and Ghana. In Latin America, a number of National Bamboo Societies will establish a plan for increased regional cooperation. And in China, we will be discussing the challenges and opportunities for the newly announced Giant Panda National Park, and the relationship between biodiversity and bamboo. I hope that we can announce a dedicated conference about bamboo and the panda early next year.

Most excitingly, we are also expanding our work into new areas. At the congress, INBAR and the government of Cameroon will announce the establishment of INBAR’s new Central Africa office, with diplomatic privileges, in Yaoundé. Central Africa contains much of the continent’s bamboo, but we have previously had little access to these countries. We will also sign an agreement with the Pacific Island Development Forum regarding land restoration and rural development in the Pacific.

These are just some of the expected policies, programs and partnerships that we are excited about, and exactly the reason we are so delighted to host this congress.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator, and Charlotte King, INBAR International Communications Specialist. 

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  • 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
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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.

PRIVATE FINANCE

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.

REDD+ AND FORESTS

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

NEW WAYS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

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.

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  • The power of science to halt deforestation

The power of science to halt deforestation

A coffee plantation is pictured on a hillside in Lampung, Indonesia. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR
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A coffee plantation is pictured on a hillside in Lampung, Indonesia. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Science and research can offer significant contributions to halting deforestation and increasing the area of healthy forests around the world in a sustainable manner. 

With halting and reversing deforestation seen as key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of the Paris agreement on climate change, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests organized from Feb. 20-22 the conference “Working across sectors to halt deforestation and increase forest area” in Rome, to discuss ways of meeting these targets in the coming years with various actors and stakeholders.

The conference included a session on science and research coorganized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), in which participants discussed how science-based innovations have the potential to revolutionize the way forests and landscapes are monitored and managed, provided such innovations are mainstreamed and made more accessible to users, including enabling their use in local languages.

The session’s panelists were Ambassador Hans Hoogeveen, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN; Daniela Kleinschmit, Professor of Forest and Environmental Policy at the University of Freiburg and Coordinator of IUFRO’s Division 9 on Forest Policy and Economics; Avery Cohn, Assistant Professor of International Environment and Resource Policy for the Fletcher School at Tufts University; Pablo Pacheco, Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); and Christopher Stewart, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for OLAM. Representing the organizers, IUFRO Vice President John Parrotta moderated the session and FTA Director Vincent Gitz contributed as a panelist.

Ambassador Hoogeveen introduced the session with a wake-up call for forests, the planet, and the people living on it. Science could play a crucial role in forming a clear message for the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and youth could also play a role in this, he suggested. Governments know that forests are important, the ambassador said, but they are often more focused on other pressing issues. Forests, therefore, must be placed among these most pressing of issues. One approach may be for science to make the business case for forests, which would encourage private sector involvement.

From the perspective of FTA, Dr. Gitz emphasized that science is promoting cross-sectoral coordination in three ways. First, science uncovers and shows links, relations and solidarities between sectors, in a way that cannot be ignored. Second, science cannot be disconnected from implementation. Science and research can provide evidence for stakeholders to understand the forces at play, and the suitability of options and solutions according to different contexts. Third, by the very process of constructing evidence, and in a solution oriented way, science and research create favourable conditions for coordination between sectors.

Fellow panelist Prof. Kleinschmit noted that deforestation was a challenge for science, as the causes and effects are complex, and analysis and finding solutions can be difficult. She highlighted the need to orchestrate and integrate scientific expertise with other forms of expertise in order to create solutions and policies that are sensitive to context. Prof. Cohn explained how evidence-based supply-chain initiatives could have a role in reducing deforestation, and tropical forest goods and services could contribute to development. Like Ambassador Hoogeveen, he also discussed the business case for forest conservation.

Dr. Pacheco highlighted the importance of the coproduction of knowledge, saying that research must be credible, legitimate and relevant — for science to be usable, we must adjust to the needs of stakeholders. We can build on new forms of governance, he suggested, and upon multistakeholder platforms on sustainability. Finally, Dr. Stewart discussed how those in the private sector define sustainability: a long-term supply of what they need. He pointed to the need for ways to better determine the value of different types of capital such as natural capital and intellectual capital, and suggested that forest and land management practices be reoriented so that we use only the interest on the natural capital, rather than the capital itself which is very often the case today.

Rice fields are seen in an agroforestry area of Lampung, Indonesia. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR

The panel concluded that there is a need to look at the interface between forests and other sectors, including how to link small projects with broad international commitments. If a disconnect exists between science and political dialogue, science needs to critically look at internationally agreed upon targets, and if actions are going in the right direction as well as creating strong alignment among targets. In fact, there has been considerable movement, especially in CGIAR, toward the improved alignment of science with targets determined at global and national levels. The SDGs are instrumental in that sense.

IUFRO underscores the importance of platforms bringing together science with policymakers, the private sector and other stakeholders. Such platforms are key for increasing mutual understanding, aligning research priorities with the needs of stakeholders, enhancing uptake and implementation. There are many examples of substantive, transformative knowledge available in research that can be transferred and scaled up for greater impact.

FTA gives priority support to research that engages with stakeholders from the ground up, including civil society and the private sector. This engagement is multifold — on work priorities, problem statements, research questions, elaboration of research protocols and the best use and uptake of results. Creating mechanisms that engage research with stakeholders is also needed because much of the evidence and data are in the hands of stakeholders: communities and the private sector.

At both IUFRO and FTA, we believe that the very process of constructing evidence in a solution-oriented way can be a pathway for increased coordination between sectors. Science itself needs to be cross-sectoral in its approaches, as this can facilitate various sectors getting on board. We expect that the implementation of the SDGs will encourage such approaches.

By IUFRO Vice President John Parrotta and FTA Director Vincent Gitz. 

For more details about the Halting Deforestation conference, view the conference program or watch recordings of the plenary sessions.


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

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  • Tropical forest-transition landscapes: a portfolio for studying people, tree crops and agro-ecological change in context

Tropical forest-transition landscapes: a portfolio for studying people, tree crops and agro-ecological change in context

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Nudging the development trajectory of tropical landscapes towards sustainability requires a global commitment and policies that take diverse contexts and forest transitions into account. Out-scaling and upscaling landscape-level actions to achieve sustainable development goals globally need to be based on understanding of extrapolation domains and interconnectivity of products and services.

We evaluated three portfolios of tropical landscape observatories and quantified extrapolation domains across ecological zones, stages of forest transition, human development index (HDI), population density and potential prominence of four dominant tropical tree crops (arabica coffee, cacao, rubber and oil palm). The ASB Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins portfolio was focussed on active humid forest margins and the Poverty and Environment Network on early stages of forest transition. The portfolio of sentinel landscapes of the Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) research programme provides a 5% sample of pantropical area, 8% of people, 9% of tree cover and 10–12% of potential tree crop presence, with quantified biases across zones, transition stages and HDI. In the ‘water tower’ configuration, relatively high population density coincides with biodiversity, coffee expansion and contested ecosystem services. The extrapolation domain of the FTA portfolio includes trade-off (tree loss) and synergy (restoration) phases of tropical forest transition.


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