Welcome to the Final FTA newsletter!
As we close FTA's 10 years as a CGIAR research program, let's look back at achievements, reflect on lessons learned and look into the future.
FTA is a research for development program, one of the most complex endeavours around. It's about generating knowledge, applying it for development, and learning from that, generating new knowledge from implementation.
Together with our partners, FTA has worked in 74 countries to provide innovative research, technical solutions, training and policy support, to leverage the role of trees and forests to enhance smallholder livelihoods, drive sustainable value chains, safeguard biodiversity, improve food security and nutrition, restore landscapes, fight climate change and help adapt to it.
FTA represented a collective research and development investment of about USD 850M over a decade. What is left after 10 years goes way beyond the close to 6000 publications (from scientific articles, technical, to policy reports, many of global importance, most open access, all searchable here. FTA has also contributed to change lives and to change the planet. How to assess this impact is trickier than counting publications. But it is by no means less important.
This is why, two years ago, FTA started a major exercise to assess its contributions and impacts on five key challenges, for our planet and for people. This process brought together the Independent Steering Committee of FTA, impact assessment experts, FTA scientists and partners to (i) design an original, workable approach and operational method to credibly assess impacts at scale for the whole FTA program, since 2011; (ii) deploy the method against five development challenges FTA was expected to address; (iii) learn lessons from the exercise.
FTA is now publishing these 5 integrative impact studies, together with a synthesis (forthcoming). They show tremendous impacts that major clusters of work FTA did achieve, over the years, and under respectively conservative to optimistic hypothesis:
- Brought between 2–35 million ha of land under restoration.
- Brought 26–133 million ha of forests under enhanced protection. This represents up to 125 Gt of sequestered carbon dioxide.
- Brought 60–204 million ha of land under better management via improved policy, monitoring and management practices.
- Provided between 5–19 million people with better means to exit poverty.
- Provided 1–3 million people with additional means to improve food and nutritional security.
You can find out more both on the method and on the full studies on this page.
A key lesson from these studies is that, to ensure long-term impact and scalability, it is necessary to work across the research-from-development continuum, at many levels, with Theories of Change bringing technical, social and institutional innovations together with policy-oriented work. You will find the major achievements over a decade within the 18 volumes of the FTA Highlights series, which is a legacy for the future.
Providing evidence-based solutions for stakeholders, farm and forest sector actors, experts and policy makers, and co-generating these with them, was our "bread and butter". But the role of trees and forest go beyond our sectors. Forests and trees are of everybody's concern on this planet. This is why we also sought to reach the broader public though our news pieces, interviews, newsletters and communication campaigns: they are all available here. For example, check out our latest "From Tree to Fork" campaign and our just-launched partnership with Google Arts & Culture to promote the roles of trees!
As we are closing the program as a CGIAR CRP, we measure the change FTA – humbly – contributed to the world. Sometimes, development progress is slow to perceive, but it's quite striking when you look back 10 years behind. It is the same with partnership. Since 2011, a real partnership has formed, bringing together people and institutions. At the "final" event of FTA, on 9 December 2021, Anne-Marie Izac Chairperson of the Independent Steering Committee of FTA reminded us that partnerships are the very "raison-d'être" of the program. And Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research and Managing Director of CIFOR-ICRAF, and Director of the first phase of FTA stated "there is a demand like never before, much more work to do […] and we have a tremendous set of partners. I see no reason why we should stop here."
As FTA partners now look into the future, they also look at widening the partnership and giving it a renewed impetus. There is so much that trees, forests and agroforestry can bring to the agenda to 2030.
On behalf of all the scientists of FTA, the Management Team and Independent Steering Committee, I thank you for your attention during all these years. We wish you, family and friends a joyful end of 2021, and all best wishes for the year to come.