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  • Where the land meets the sea: Governing mangrove forests

Where the land meets the sea: Governing mangrove forests

Mangroves in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR
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Mangroves in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR
Mangroves in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Sigit Deni Sasmito/CIFOR

By Kate Evans, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia, swept a massive tsunami across the Indian Ocean. The wave forged two kilometers inland in some places, and wiped out towns, crops, lives and livelihoods. In Indonesia’s Aceh province alone, 167,000 people died.

Could anything have reduced its devastating impact? In the tsunami’s wake, global attention fell on the potential of mangroves. Many of Indonesia’s mangrove forests had been cleared prior to 2004 to make way for shrimp farms – and subsequent research showed that mangroves and other forests can help protect coastlines and people from the force of tsunamis, hurricanes, and rising sea levels.

The indigenous people of Pahawang Island already knew that, though. In the 1980s and 1990s, the mangrove forests fringing their island – a speck in a bay at the eastern end of Sumatra – were over-exploited. They were turned into charcoal by Korean companies, cut down for timber, and converted to fish-ponds by migrants from East Java.

By the early 2000s, coastal erosion had become a huge problem for the islanders. Houses, agricultural land and fish-ponds were swept away in storms; fish no longer bred amongst the looping mangrove roots; and malaria and dengue outbreaks became more common.

So village leaders got together and pioneered their own, innovative governance system for their mangroves. They developed an organizational structure, and divided the mangrove area into three territories – a strict protection zone, an area where only non-timber products like firewood could be gathered, and a ‘utilization zone’ where limited timber harvesting was allowed. They also identified areas for reforesting, and secured seedlings and funding.

There’s much to be learned from local experiences like these, say scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research, who have just released a new global study on mangrove governance, involving both a review of international literature and case studies in Indonesia and Tanzania.


“In Indonesia they were very clear: they managed their mangroves to protect their lives, livelihoods and assets from storm surges, from the sea,” says Esther Mwangi, who helped lead the overarching study. “The mangroves are an important buffer against the energy and the strength of the ocean.”

Mani Ram Banjade led the on-the-ground research in Indonesia, focusing on three villages in Lampung province.


A researcher measures the diameter of mangrove trees in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Kate Evans
A researcher measures the diameter of mangrove trees in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Kate Evans

In Pahawang especially, mangrove protection was a very bottom-up affair.

“The local community leaders took the initiative and developed their own rules, regulations and governance mechanisms. Then they got the approval from the local government as well, and from their personal and political connections they also got some resources from outside.”

It worked so well in Pahawang, he says, because the local government recognised the islanders’ rights over the land and supported their efforts – and because strong leaders harnessed community awareness of the role of mangroves in coastal protection.

“Even if they’re not getting a direct economic benefit from the mangrove, they still value its conservation,” says Banjade.

“It’s a good model,” says Steven Lawry, CIFOR’s Director of Forests and Governance Research, who also worked on the report. “This is an example of how strong leadership and persistence have led to good outcomes with respect to local mangrove conservation. People are out there up to their waists in water, planting mangroves, because they see the importance to their livelihoods.”


In many places worldwide, these kinds of bottom up approaches to governance are necessary, because mangroves often fall through the cracks at the national level, says Mwangi.

Washed by the tides, simultaneously of the land and of the sea, mangroves don’t neatly fit into governance structures. Globally, it’s rare for countries to have specific rules for mangroves. They’re either governed under a hodgepodge of two or three ministries, or they fall under the forestry department.

That isn’t a perfect match, says Mwangi.

“In mangrove forests, the timber is not the biggest thing – the value is in coastal protection, fisheries, carbon sequestration – things that are not forestry. And yet this resource has been placed in the hands of forestry departments. So there is a bit of a tension.”

Where governance is spread among multiple ministries, coordination is a problem. And many efforts to improve it have failed. Indonesia put together a mangrove management and coordination plan in 2012 – but it hasn’t yet been fully implemented.

Even more telling is the case of Tanzania. In 1991 it was one of the first countries to create an integrated management plan for mangroves – and yet to date, 25 years on, it too has not been implemented.

The reasons behind these failures is a prime area for future research, says Mwangi – but perhaps a better approach, she suggests, would be to bring in new legislation that is specific to mangroves, like the rules pioneered on Pahawang.

One could easily say the village regulations are substituting for a national, mangrove-specific regulation that is missing,” says Mwangi.


Something that’s lacking at all levels – from fishing village to academia – is an appreciation of gender dynamics.

“In the literature review there was hardly anything on gender, and then when we looked at the ground level we saw exactly the same thing – a widespread gender blindness in mangrove management.”

People’s relationships to mangroves are gender-differentiated, Mwangi says. Women might gather firewood, while men harvest timber and fish.

Yet in both Tanzania and Indonesia, women rarely sat on management committees, and their participation in decision-making was curtailed in a number of ways.

In Tanzania, researchers found that meetings were often organized in the late afternoon, when most women were fetching firewood and water to cook the evening meal. When women were present, social customs dictated they sit behind the men and ‘say yes to everything’, even when they disagreed.

“Not only as a matter of right, but also in terms of being effective, it makes sense to have women on governance committees,” says Mwangi. “They too have knowledge and use the resource, so their presence and input in decision-making is important.”

Gender aside, there’s a lot national governments can learn from the innovative ways local communities are managing their mangroves. And it’s crucial those villages receive support and assistance to do that from regional and national bodies, Mwangi says.

“With good local leadership and support from others at different levels of government, communities can organise, develop rules and can work together to conserve their mangroves.”

The study found that a transition is underway in a few countries towards increased community participation in mangrove management. Though Latin America has been most enthusiastic, Tanzania’s government is also starting to experiment with community-based approaches in some mangrove areas, says Lawry.

That is encouraging, he says, because the traditional model of mangrove governance – strict top-down regimes that try to protect mangroves by locking local people out – hasn’t worked very well, in Tanzania, Indonesia and elsewhere.

“Despite government intentions to manage them sustainably, governance regimes are generally ineffective at conserving mangroves. They generally fail to involve communities, and at the some time they don’t effectively regulate large-scale commercial users of mangroves, with a result that mangrove loss is accelerating,” he says.

“Where we do see progress towards sustainable mangrove management, it’s in places where communities have clear rights, and they enjoy clear benefits.”

*This research was supported by USAID

For more information on this topic, please contact Esther Mwangi at e.mwangi@cgiar.org or Steven Lawry at s.lawry@cgiar.org.
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
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  • Where Land Meets the Sea: A Global Review of the Governance and Tenure Dimensions of Coastal Mangrove Forests

Where Land Meets the Sea: A Global Review of the Governance and Tenure Dimensions of Coastal Mangrove Forests

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Authors: Rotich, B.; Mwangi, E.; Lawry, S.

This report provides a synoptic analysis of the legal and governance frameworks that relate to the use and management of mangrove forests globally. It highlights the range of challenges typically encountered in the governance and tenure dimensions of mangrove forest management. This assessment forms part of a broader study that includes national-level assessments in Indonesia and Tanzania. It was carried out under the USAID-funded Tenure and Global Climate Change Program. The report provides information on the challenges for mangrove rehabilitation and restoration, legal frameworks for the governance of mangroves, mangrove governance and tenure in practice, and lessons in mangrove governance for policy and practice. Primary findings from this assessment show that authority over mangrove forest management is overwhelmingly vested in state institutions and that mangrove protection is a central objective. Given the ambiguous role of mangroves situated between the land and sea, the configuration of state authority for mangrove management is quite complex. In some countries, there is fragmentation of responsibilities across two or more agencies such as forests, fisheries, environment, and wildlife. This contributes to a high level of segmentation and jurisdictional ambiguity. Frameworks and mechanisms for enabling multi-sectoral coordination across agencies and governance levels are uncommon, and where they exist, they are difficult to put into practice.

Pages: 40p

Publisher: CIFOR and USAID Tenure and Global Climate Change Program, Bogor, Indonesia and Washington, DC

Publication Year: 2016

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  • Can conservation funding be left to carbon finance? Evidence from participatory future land use scenarios in Peru, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Mexico

Can conservation funding be left to carbon finance? Evidence from participatory future land use scenarios in Peru, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Mexico

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Authors: Ravikumar, A.; Larjavaara, M.; Larson, A.M.; Kanninen, M.

Revenues derived from carbon have been seen as an important tool for supporting forest conservation over the past decade. At the same time, there is high uncertainty about how much revenue can reasonably be expected from land use emissions reductions initiatives. Despite this uncertainty, REDD+ projects and conservation initiatives that aim to take advantage of available or, more commonly, future funding from carbon markets have proliferated. This study used participatory multi-stakeholder workshops to develop divergent future scenarios of land use in eight landscapes in four countries around the world: Peru, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Mexico. The results of these future scenario building exercises were analyzed using a new tool, CarboScen, for calculating the landscape carbon storage implications of different future land use scenarios. The findings suggest that potential revenues from carbon storage or emissions reductions are significant in some landscapes (most notably the peat forests of Indonesia), and much less significant in others (such as the low-carbon forests of Zanzibar and the interior of Tanzania). The findings call into question the practicality of many conservation programs that hinge on expectations of future revenue from carbon finance. The future scenarios-based approach is useful to policy-makers and conservation program developers in distinguishing between landscapes where carbon finance can substantially support conservation, and landscapes where other strategies for conservation and land use should be prioritized.

Publication Year: 2017

ISSN: 1748-9326

Source: Environmental Research Letters 12: 014015

DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5509

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  • Host country governance and the African land rush: 7 reasons why large-scale farmland investments fail to contribute to sustainable development

Host country governance and the African land rush: 7 reasons why large-scale farmland investments fail to contribute to sustainable development

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Authors: Schoneveld, G.C.

The large social and environmental footprint of rising investor demand for Africa’s farmland has in recent years become a much-examined area of enquiry. This has produced a rich body of literature that has generated valuable insights into the underlying drivers, trends, social and environmental impacts, discursive implications, and global governance options. Host country governance dynamics have in contrast remained an unexplored theme, despite its central role in facilitating and legitimizing unsustainable farmland investments. This article contributes to this research gap by synthesizing results and lessons from 38 case studies conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia. It shows how and why large-scale farmland investments are often synonymous with displacement, dispossession, and environmental degradation and, thereby, highlights seven outcome determinants that merit more explicit treatment in academic and policy discourse.

Source: CIFOR Publications

Publication Year: 2016

ISSN: 0016-7185

Source: Geoforum

DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.12.007

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  • Guinea pig or pioneer: Translating global environmental objectives through to local actions in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia’s REDD+ pilot province

Guinea pig or pioneer: Translating global environmental objectives through to local actions in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia’s REDD+ pilot province

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Authors: Sanders, A.J.P.; da Silva Hyldmo, H.; Prasti H., R.D.; Ford, R.M.; Larson, A.M.; Keenan, R.J.

Many difficulties have arisen from top-down approaches to the design and implementation of global environmental initiatives. The concept of translation and other analytical features of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) can offer a way of conceptualising these difficulties and their practical effects. By translation, we refer to what happens in-between the formulation of international goals and the results of implementation, and more specifically, relations and negotiations within this broader process. We examine several aspects of translation in the case of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), a prominent global environmental initiative. Using an ethnographic approach, we explore local responses in Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia, to REDD+ ideas and goals that originate at international and national levels. Following selection in 2010 as the official REDD+ pilot province, Central Kalimantan became a site for the convergence of actors and projects with varied sources of funding. The study identifies a central tension that emerged between an initial vision of Central Kalimantan as a pioneer, and local concerns about being used as an experimental subject or ‘guinea pig’ for the testing of externally designed schemes. Results show that greater flexibility in the design of programs and initiatives is needed, to provide space for local inputs. Implementation should pay attention to how local actors are included in planning processes that inform decision-making at higher jurisdictional levels. To bring about intended changes in land use, programs like REDD+ need to extend beyond a focus on short-term projects and targets, to instead emphasise long-term investments and forms of collective action that support learning.

Source: CIFOR Publications

Publication Year: 2017

ISSN: 0959-3780

Source: Global Environmental Change 42: 68-81

DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.12.003

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  • The impact of swidden decline on livelihoods and ecosystem services in Southeast Asia: A review of the evidence from 1990 to 2015

The impact of swidden decline on livelihoods and ecosystem services in Southeast Asia: A review of the evidence from 1990 to 2015

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FTA communications

Authors: Dressler, W.H.; Wilson, D.; Clendenning, J.; Cramb, R.; Keenan, R.J.; Mahanty, S.; Bruun, T.B.; Mertz, O.; Lasco, R.D.

Global economic change and policy interventions are driving transitions from long-fallow swidden (LFS) systems to alternative land uses in Southeast Asia’s uplands. This study presents a systematic review of how these transitions impact upon livelihoods and ecosystem services in the region. Over 17 000 studies published between 1950 and 2015 were narrowed, based on relevance and quality, to 93 studies for further analysis. Our analysis of land-use transitions from swidden to intensified cropping systems showed several outcomes: more households had increased overall income, but these benefits came at significant cost such as reductions of customary practice, socio-economic wellbeing, livelihood options, and staple yields. Examining the effects of transitions on soil properties revealed negative impacts on soil organic carbon, cation-exchange capacity, and aboveground carbon. Taken together, the proximate and underlying drivers of the transitions from LFS to alternative land uses, especially intensified perennial and annual cash cropping, led to significant declines in pre-existing livelihood security and the ecosystem services supporting this security. Our results suggest that policies imposing land-use transitions on upland farmers so as to improve livelihoods and environments have been misguided; in the context of varied land uses, swidden agriculture can support livelihoods and ecosystem services that will help buffer the impacts of climate change in Southeast Asia.


Pages: 20p.

Publication Year: 2016

ISSN: 0044-7447

Source: Ambio, CIFOR’s library

DOI: 10.1007/s13280-016-0836-z

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  • Using indigenous knowledge to link hyper-temporal land cover mapping with land use in the Venezuelan Amazon: “The Forest Pulse”

Using indigenous knowledge to link hyper-temporal land cover mapping with land use in the Venezuelan Amazon: “The Forest Pulse”

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Authors: Olivero, J.; Ferri, F.; Acevedo, P.; Lobo, J.M.; Fa, J.E.; Farfán, M.A.; Romero, D.; Blanco, G.; Real, R.

Remote sensing and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can be combined to advance conservation of remote tropical regions, e.g. Amazonia, where intensive in situ surveys are often not possible. Integrating TEK into monitoring and management of these areas allows for community participation, as well as for offering novel insights into sustainable resource use. In this study, we developed a 250-m-resolution land-cover map of the western Guyana Shield (Venezuela) based on remote sensing, and used TEK to validate its relevance for indigenous livelihoods and land uses. We first employed a hyper-temporal remotely sensed vegetation index to derive a land classification system. During a 1,300-km, 8-day fluvial expedition in roadless areas in the Amazonas State (Venezuela), we visited six indigenous communities who provided geo-referenced data on hunting, fishing and farming activities. We overlaid these TEK data onto the land classification map, to link land classes with indigenous use. Several classes were significantly connected with agriculture, fishing, overall hunting, and more specifically the hunting of primates, red brocket deer, black agouti, and white-lipped peccary. We then characterized land classes using greenness and topo-hydrological information, and proposed 12 land-cover types, grouped into five main landscapes: 1) water bodies; 2) open lands/forest edges; 3) evergreen forests; 4) submontane semideciduous forests, and 5) cloud forests. Our results show that TEK-based approaches can serve as a basis for validating the livelihood relevance of landscapes in high-value conservation areas, which can form the basis for furthering the management of natural resources in these regions

Publication Year: 2016

ISSN: 0034-7744

Source: Revista de Biología Tropical 64(4): 1661-1682

DOI: 10.15517/rbt.v64i4.21886

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  • Oil palm-community conflict mapping in Indonesia: A case for better community liaison in planning for development initiatives

Oil palm-community conflict mapping in Indonesia: A case for better community liaison in planning for development initiatives

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Authors: Abram, N.K.; Meijaard, E.; Wilson, K.A.; Davis, J.T.; Wells, J.A.; Ancrenaz, M.; Budiharta, S.;Durrant, A.; Fakhruzzi, A.; Runting, R.K.; Gaveau, D.L.A.; Mengersen, K.

Conflict between large-scale oil-palm producers and local communities is widespread in palm-oil producer nations. With a potential doubling of oil-palm cultivation in Indonesia in the next ten years it is likely that conflicts between the palm-oil industry and communities will increase. We develop and apply a novel method for understanding spatial patterns of oil-palm related conflicts. We use a unique set of conflict data derived through systematic searches of online data sources and local newspaper reports describing recent oil-palm land-use related conflicts for Indonesian Borneo, and combine these data with 43 spatial environmental and social variables using boosted regression tree modelling. Reports identified 187 villages had reported conflict with oil-palm companies. Spatial patterns varied with different types of conflict. Forest-dependent communities were more likely to strongly oppose oil-palm establishment because of their negative perception of oil-palm development on the environment and their own livelihoods. Conflicts regarding land boundary disputes, illegal operations by companies, perceived lack of consultation, compensation and broken promises by companies were more associated with communities that have lower reliance on forests for livelihoods, or are located in regions that have undergone or are undergoing forest transformation to oil-palm or industrial-tree-plantations. A better understanding of the characteristics of communities and areas where different types of conflicts have occurred is a fundamental step in generating hypotheses about why certain types of conflict occur in certain locations. Insights from such research can help inform land use policy, planning and management to achieve more sustainable and equitable development. Our results can also assist certification bodies (e.g. the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil-RSPO, and the Indonesian and Malaysian versions, ISPO and MSPO), non-government-organisations, government agencies and other stakeholders to more effectively target mediation efforts to reduce the potential for conflict arising in the future.

Publication Year: 2017

ISSN: 0143-6228

Source: Applied Geography 78: 33-44

DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.10.005

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  • 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

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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

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  • Climate policy integration in the land use sector: Mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development linkages

Climate policy integration in the land use sector: Mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development linkages

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Authors: Di Gregorio, M.; Nurrochmat, D.R.; Paavola, J.; Sari, I.M.; Fatorelli, L.; Pramova, E.;Locatelli, B.; Brockhaus, M.; Kusumadewi, S.D.

This article re-conceptualizes Climate Policy Integration (CPI) in the land use sector to highlight the need to assess the level of integration of mitigation and adaptation objectives and policies to minimize trade-offs and to exploit synergies. It suggests that effective CPI in the land use sector requires i) internal climate policy coherence between mitigation and adaptation objectives and policies; ii) external climate policy coherence between climate change and development objectives; iii) vertical policy integration to mainstream climate change into sectoral policies and; iv) horizontal policy integration by overarching governance structures for cross-sectoral coordination. This framework is used to examine CPI in the land use sector of Indonesia. The findings indicate that adaptation actors and policies are the main advocates of internal policy coherence. External policy coherence between mitigation and development planning is called for, but remains to be operationalized. Bureaucratic politics has in turn undermined vertical and horizontal policy integration. Under these circumstances it is unlikely that the Indonesian bureaucracy can deliver strong coordinated action addressing climate change in the land use sector, unless sectoral ministries internalize a strong mandate on internal and external climate policy coherence and find ways to coordinate policy action effectively.

Pages: 9p.

Publication Year: 2016

ISSN: 1462-9011

Source: Environmental Science and Policy

DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016.11.004

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  • Top 10 things to watch out for at the COP22 concerning forests and land use

Top 10 things to watch out for at the COP22 concerning forests and land use

Photo: Daniel Tiveau/CIFOSR
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Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

By Stephen Leonard, Suzanna Dayne. Originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

At the COP21 in Paris last year, 195 countries reached an historic agreement – the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

Yet while each country made emission-cutting pledges, the pledges remain on the whole inadequate to date, potentially putting the world on a dangerous path towards global warming by 3 degrees Celsius.

Currently, 89 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November. Only three days later, the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakesh, Morocco began.

It’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and get to work on the implementation of the Agreement.


  1. Land Sector and the 1.5 degree goal:

The land sector will play a very significant role in limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2° or 1.5oC as agreed in the Paris Agreement. This sector is the second largest contributor to climate change according to the IPCC.

Restoring degraded ecosystems and reforestation can make a major contribution and it will be important to prioritise emphasis on these low hanging fruit rather than over-dependence on unproven technological solutions. At the forefront of priorities however, should be removal of fossil fuel subsidies and the phasing out of fossil fuels by at least mid-century.

A key point for COP22 negotiators will be to explore how this will be achieved by developed nations and how to financially support less developed countries, particularly in regards to the development of the 100 billion Road Map.

The special report being prepared by the IPCC on 1.5 degrees should inform the negotiations and provide new guidance in coming years. It will be crucial for the role of the land sector and forests to make up a major part of this work.

  1. REDD+:
Photo: Daniel Tiveau/CIFOSR
Photo: Daniel Tiveau/CIFOR

REDD+ is intended to reward developing countries for their verified efforts to reduce emissions and enhance the removal of greenhouse gases through a variety of forest management options. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which supports developing countries to reduce GHG emissions and to adapt to climate change, is working to finalize its policy so that it can make results-based payments for REDD+.

A process has recently been put in place and a decision is expected on the topic at the next GCF Board meeting in December. One ongoing contentious topic concerning REDD+ relates to the use of forest carbon offsets.

Experts continue to argue that forest offsets do not reduce emissions from fossil fuels. This is an issue that is unresolved up until now in multiple forums including the GCF and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Allowing forest offsets delays the much-needed phasing out of fossil fuels, so we can expect discussions on this topic in Marrakesh and beyond.

Also read about FTA events at COP22 in Marrakesh

  1. Agriculture:

Agriculture is responsible for around eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But agriculture remains a sensitive and complex issue, especially for developing countries where food security is a major concern.

Agricultural expansion has led to environmental degradation and loss of forests, especially in tropical countries. Climate changes have already impacted many staple crops and impacted the beef and cattle sector, which is the mainstay for many communities.

These issues, if not addressed justly, will lead to increased hunger and malnutrition among the most vulnerable populations living in Africa, Asia and Central America. The Agriculture work plan that was established by the SBSTA in 2014 has now been completed and in Marrakesh, its next steps will be determined.

These could include a new work program focused on how to ensure food security in a changing climate, as well as work programs on the enhanced understanding of indigenous and traditional practices.

  1. Enhancing Transparency:
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

Article 13 of the Paris Agreement established an enhanced transparency framework. During COP22, negotiators will continue to develop the modalities and guidelines to implement it. A number of submissions have already been received from countries on this topic. There is a need to analyse the way monitoring, measuring, reporting and verification is approached.

Climate action is about more than just carbon, as should be the system of transparency. It will be important that human rights and social and environmental implications of all actions taken are included in the enhanced transparency system.

This extends to actions taken by the corporate sector, otherwise known as “non-state actors”. Efforts to mitigate climate change could have severe social consequences and at present, apart from the REDD+ Cancun Safeguards, there are no broadly applied safeguards within the UNFCCC against these possible impacts.

  1. Corporate Pledges and Zero Deforestation:

Companies like SC Johnson, Unilever and McDonald’s have all committed to zero deforestation supply chains. But how can this be achieved when raw materials are sourced from remote parts of the world, by companies that cross multiple borders? What mechanisms are currently in place to ensure monitoring activities are accurate? How do we ensure transparency and what reporting guidelines will be used in all these countries?

The UNFCCC’s Climate Action Agenda and Non State Actor Platforms have advanced this discussion significantly. COP22 provides the opportunities to look more closely and cound develop guidelines on how corporate actions may relate to the NDCs, the Enhanced Transparency Framework and the Global Stocktake, as well as the growing role of non-state actors in climate negotiations.

Learn about the Global Landscapes Forum 2016, the biggest side event of COP22 on land use and climate change

  1. Ecosystems:

Article 5 of the Paris Agreement states that parties are required to take action to conserve and enhance natural ecosystems. Meanwhile, the Preamble notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity.

The role of ecosystems and the importance of biodiversity is often understated, or ignored in the UNFCCC negotiations. However, the provisions mentioned throughout the text that require the need for environmental integrity in the NDCs (Article 4) and the Sustainable Development Mechanism (Article 6) should pave the way for further emphasis on climate, ecosystems integrity and biodiversity considerations.

What’s more, the Convention on Biological Diversity has recently released an important report that identifies climate change’s impact on biodiversity. It warns that geo-engineering technological solutions being proposed are also likely to have further negative impacts on biodiversity through land use change, a serious issue that should not be ignored.

  1. Coastal Ecosystems and Blue Carbon:

Coastal and marine ecosystems, in particular mangroves, are a key piece in the climate change puzzle, storing significant amounts of “blue” carbon from the oceans and the atmosphere. According to the Blue Carbon Initiative, coastal habitats account for about half of the total carbon sequestered in ocean sediments.

As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia’s coastal blue carbon holds great potential for climate change mitigation if unsustainable economic development is checked. But how can this be achieved? What financial incentives should be taken into account? Restoration and protection of mangrove ecosystems could play a more important role in terms of pre-2020 mitigation potential, a matter that the UNFCCC and the GCF should consider.

  1. Operationalizing Rights:

Climate change is widely recognized as a human rights issue. For this reason, human rights, rights of indigenous peoples and gender have all been included in the preamble to the Paris Agreement.

Gender and indigenous peoples considerations are also included in the sections on Adaptation (Article 7) and Capacity Building (Article 11). Significant efforts to ensure women are not left behind have been made within the Green Climate Fund, which has a comprehensive gender policy and a gender action planin place to help ensure that women, particularly those from developing countries, are included.

But unfortunately, no such progress has yet been made concerning indigenous peoples policies at the GCF. Ways to bring women and indigenous peoples into the process as equal stakeholders when projects are designed and ways to provide resources on the ground to implement them need to be identified. A broader human rights agenda needs to be operationalized. This long overdue work should commence in Marrakesh.

  1. Technology:

Technology is consistently high on the list of priorities to address climate change as it increases both accessibility and affordability. Tried and tested energy sources like wind and solar, as well as satellite and computer systems that track and map fires, deforestation and climate changes, are helping nations to meet their pledges.

But not all technology is created equally. For example, arguments both for and against investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS) are on the rise, and risks associated with geo-engineering have been raised. Both technologies will have significant impacts on land use, biodiversity, people and food security depending upon the level of their deployment.

It will be necessary for the provisions of the Paris Agreement, which establish the Technology Framework (Article 10), to enhance action on technologies and in doing so, ensure that such technologies are socially and environmentally sound. It is likely that the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and the GCF will play an increasingly important role on this topic and should refrain from any investments in technologies that could undermine the global goal on adaptation (Article 7) to increase resilience and decrease vulnerability.

  1. Accounting:

Last, but not least, is land use accounting. Without measuring sinks and sources, it is impossible to know whether we are on track to achieve the Paris Agreement objectives. This subject is particularly complicated when it comes to land use. These complexities leave many negotiators at a disadvantage on the topic.

Experts agree that a good accounting system must be transparent, accurate, verifiable and efficient. As work is undertaken to put in place a new land use accounting system, it will be important that countries work towards comprehensive accounting and close existing loopholes. A system that clearly shows emissions from the land sector will be important and complexities associated with international trade of biomass to ensure its inclusion in land use accounting methodologies will need to be addressed.


It is clear that participants at COP22 will have their hands full as they hammer out the “how to” aspects of the Paris Agreement. Implementation has been the buzzword since the Agreement was reached, but we are now faced with a new challenge resulting from the record time in which ratification occurred.

There remains much technical work to be done to ensure the Paris Agreement is implemented in a way that truly ensures the necessary transition of the global economy. We should hope that the rush to implement does not undermine the transformational potential of the Agreement and weaken the ‘rule book’ under development.

COP22 is the first COP since Paris. There is great uncertainty in regards to the way the politics will play out, especially with a US election happening during the first week. One thing we know for sure is that we already hold the answers to many climate needs and solutions. The greatest risk now to achieving the necessary transformational change are the forces, the vested interests and the actors that drive and influence the political agenda.

For more information on this topic, please contact Stephen Leonard at s.leonard@cgiar.org.
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
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  • 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

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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

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  • Enhancing transparency in the land-use sector: Exploring the role of independent monitoring approaches

Enhancing transparency in the land-use sector: Exploring the role of independent monitoring approaches

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There is a need for independent monitoring approaches (i.e. unbiased data, tools and methods) that stakeholders involved in land-use sector mitigation activities can rely on for their own goals, but which would also be perceived as transparent and legitimate by others and support accountability of all stakeholders in the framework of the Paris Agreement

Independent monitoring is not a specific tool, a single system or a one-serves-all approach. It is rather a diversity of approaches and initiatives with the purpose of increasing transparency and broadening stakeholder participation and confidence by providing free and open methods, data, and tools that are complementary to mandated reporting by national governments.

We identify key elements of independent monitoring:

  • transparency in data sources, definitions, methodologies and assumptions;
  • free and open methods, data, and tools, which are truly “barrier free” to all stakeholders;
  • increased participation and accountability of stakeholders;
  • complementarity to mandated reporting by countries;
  • promotion of accuracy, consistency, completeness and comparability of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission estimates.

Independent monitoring should be considered an important mechanism for enhancing transparency in the land-use sector. Interested stakeholders can engage and benefit from independent monitoring approaches when starting to implement the Paris Agreement; we provide examples and recommendations as starting points.

Authors: de Sy, V.; Herold, M.; Martius, C.; Böttcher, H.; Fritz, S.; Gaveau, D.L.A.; Leonard, S.;Romijn, E.; Román-Cuesta, R.M.

Topic: land use, monitoring, forest management

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 156

Pages: 8p.

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

Publication Year: 2016

DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006256

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  • Low Emission Development Strategies in Agriculture. An Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Perspective

Low Emission Development Strategies in Agriculture. An Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Perspective

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FTA communications

As countries experience economic growth and choose among available development pathways, they are in a favorable position to adopt natural resource use technologies and production practices that favor efficient use of inputs, healthy soils, and ecosystems. Current emphasis on increasing resilience to climate change and reducing agricultural greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions strengthens the support for sustainable agricultural production. In fact, reducing losses in soil fertility, reclaiming degraded lands, and promoting synergistic interaction between crop production and forests are generally seen as good climate change policies. In order for decision-makers to develop long-term policies that address these issues, they must have tools at their disposal that evaluate trade-offs, opportunities, and repercussions of the options considered. In this paper, the authors combine and reconcile the output of three models widely accessible to the public to analyze the impacts of policies that target emission reduction in the agricultural sector. We present an application to Colombia which reveals the importance of considering the full scope of interactions among the various land uses. Results indicate that investments in increasing the efficiency and productivity of the livestock sector and reducing land allocated to pasture are preferable to policies that target deforestation alone or target a reduction of emissions in crop production. Investments in livestock productivity and land-carrying capacity would reduce deforestation and provide sufficient gains in carbon stock to offset greater emissions from increased crop production while generating higher revenues.

Source: Word Development, November 2016

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  • Local peoples’ perspectives on the effectiveness of REDD+ in changing land use behaviors

Local peoples’ perspectives on the effectiveness of REDD+ in changing land use behaviors

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