Annual report

EU REDD Facility: Highlights from 2016

Developing solutions to tackle drivers of deforestation

Addressing land-use governance challenges is key to reducing deforestation and combatting illegal logging, and ultimately, tackling climate change. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan offer unprecedented opportunities to address long-standing issues in the forest and land-use sectors.

EU REDD Facility partner countries

The EU REDD Facility therefore focuses its work in countries engaged in both FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) and REDD+ processes. The Facility works in three areas where REDD+ and FLEGT processes intersect and provides support:

  1. To build institutions, decision-making processes and incentive structures to foster good land-use governance, based on lessons learned from FLEGT experiences
  2. To clarify land-use rights and strengthen land-use planning at the interface of REDD+ and FLEGT processes in order to reduce forest conversion and degradation
  3. To link trends in demand for timber and agricultural commodities with jurisdiction-wide approaches in order to foster ‘deforestation-free’ production

The Facility’s policy advice is based on evidence from its in-country and thematic work, and takes into account the priorities and programmes of EU delegations and development and cooperation agencies of the EU and its Member States.

Generating concrete knowledge and interacting on issues of common interest to REDD+ and FLEGT stakeholders has helped the Facility build trust and sustain dialogue with in-country partners. By field-testing innovative, solution-oriented approaches, the Facility has supported national processes in partner countries. Learning from national processes and results, allows the Facility to provide sound and credible policy advice in relation to EU and multilateral process targeting deforestation and illegal logging.

This report presents a summary of the insights the Facility’s work has revealed and progress towards the Facility’s 2016 objectives.

Key insights

Clear legal frameworks and definitions are essential to good land-use governance and efforts to reduce deforestation and illegal logging

  • Unclear legal frameworks for land allocation contribute to forest conversion to other uses, such as plantations, agriculture and pasture to meet rising demand for agricultural commodities, as well as infrastructure and mining. FLEGT, REDD+ and zero-deforestation commodity initiatives provide rare opportunities to clarify regulations for land allocation and forest conversion, while ensuring economic development and trade.
  • Moves to clarify legal frameworks and definitions of zero-deforestation standards, or to interpret these global standards in the context of local socio-political circumstances, can enable national stakeholders to engage and, through participatory processes, work out the criteria for legal, zero-deforestation commodity production in their jurisdictions. Such moves also help to improve institutional clarity and clarify roles and responsibilities, forming the basis for improved accountability of public and private actors.
  • REDD+ can support the establishment of the enabling environment at national or jurisdictional level needed to make legal and sustainable production of timber and agricultural commodities happen, and provide appropriate incentives to ensure commodity producers comply with the law.
  • The national climate change plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) that countries will implement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change lack focus on the governance reforms needed to achieve the full potential of suggested actions to mitigate climate change.

The private sector is increasingly engaged in REDD+, but even the most responsible buyers are exposed to deforestation risk, notably illegal deforestation, in their supply chains

  • A global coalition of public and private actors is committed to stopping deforestation associated with major commodities such as palm oil, soy, pulp and paper, but implementation is lagging. Buyers are currently not equipped to address the risk, in particular because traceability systems are inadequate.
  • A lesson from the EU FLEGT Action Plan is that to address major environmental challenges requires action addressing both the producer and consumer sides of trade. Efforts are required throughout entire value chains. Market access and trade can provide incentives for the land-use governance reforms needed to make zero- deforestation commodity trade a reality.
  • The role of producer-country governments is critical, as a failure to address governance challenges could undermine private sector initiatives on zero-deforestation commodity production and illegal logging in the long term.

The implementation of zero-deforestation commitments in commodity-producing countries requires an approach that goes beyond the supply chains

  • Companies are increasingly gathering knowledge and identifying where they are sourcing commodities from. Yet, wider jurisdictional reforms are necessary to ensure functional institutional and legal frameworks, to establish conditions for zero- deforestation production and to avoid shifting deforestation to other actors or areas (‘leakage’).
  • Dialogue and partnerships between governments, producer companies and other stakeholders are needed to ensure that solutions to deforestation challenges are identified and tackled together. Mainstreaming such discussions in major commodity- producing countries would help responsible trade partners to understand where and how to source legal, deforestation-free commodities from specific jurisdictions according to local priorities and possibilities.
  • Bringing stakeholders together to discuss socio-economic, environmental and geographical data enhances dialogue and helps inform land-use planning decisions, even in deforestation hotspots. The comprehensive layers of information that stakeholders bring, combined with facilitated dialogue, fosters constructive and solution-oriented deliberation on sensitive land-use issues.
  • The incentives for jurisdictions that act to improve land-use governance in order to phase out deforestation need to be significant to trigger a change from business-as-usual in commodity sectors. This means a coherent combination of incentives that potentially include green investments, development assistance, REDD+ performance payments, trade policies and preferential market access for deforestation-free products through public procurement policies, tax exemptions, or simplified import procedures, for instance.

Commodity supply-chain transparency can help stakeholders move beyond the blame game and begin work on practical ways to make zero-deforestation supply chains a reality

  • Information to track commodity movements exists in many countries. Customs authorities systematically record most export-import transactions, if only for fiscal purposes. But the information is not easily accessible and is not compiled in a way that is useful to efforts to eliminate the risk of deforestation associated with commodity trading.
  • Now, however, near real-time tracking of who trades forest-risk commodities internationally, where and when, is possible through analysis of import-export data at the port level and accessible through online platforms such as Trase (Transparency for Sustainable Economies). New developments in commodity supply-chain transparency can therefore become an information cornerstone for sustainable supply chains in both consumer and producer countries.
  • Better transparency and reliability in forest-risk assessments will bring to light high-risk places and actors and, conversely, opportunities for deforestation-free and legal sourcing. At the same time, more transparency could help committed national and local governments to communicate progress in ongoing efforts to improve forest governance. Empowering national stakeholders to strengthen governance of supply chains and land use are key steps on this path. There is ample experience of this in the forest sector from VPAs.

Summary of Facility progress and plans

1. Sharing lessons from working at the FLEGT–REDD+ nexus

The Facility captured lessons learned from its country and thematic work at the FLEGT–REDD+ intersect and shared them on its website and at national, EU and international meetings. Results and lessons captured and communicated from work at the FLEGT–REDD+ nexus at country level focused on:

  • Independent monitoring for FLEG-REDD+ in the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • REDD+ incentives to achieve FLEGT objectives and encourage logging companies to comply with forest laws in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Drawing lessons from timber and rubber legality assurance systems in Côte d’Ivoire
  • Improving understanding of the VPAs and their interaction with other national forest governance initiatives, including national climate change plans (Nationally Determined Contributions; NDCs), REDD+, land reforms and landscape approaches
  • Preparing for a dialogue involving Guyana, Norway and the EU on the links between FLEGT and REDD+

Policy briefs captured the results of work on jurisdictional performance-monitoring in West Papua (Indonesia) and on community tenure in Vietnam.

In collaboration with the European Commission, the Facility supported the organisation of a side event on tropical forest governance at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22). The Facility’s contribution to the side event focused on drawing lessons from VPA approaches to inspire the implementation of emerging zero-deforestation commitments.

Finally, the Facility presented a publication on zero-deforestation commodity trade at the 2016 Oslo REDD+ Exchange and the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) meeting, and this prompted an invitation to showcase the FLEGT and VPA experiences at the Innovation Forum, a high-level gathering of key players from business, government, NGOs and the investment community, committed to removing deforestation from corporate supply chains.

2. Understanding legality of land allocation and forest conversion

The Facility improved its understanding of legal frameworks relating to land allocation and deforestation in various VPA countries, including Cameroon, Indonesia, Laos and the Republic of the Congo. This helped to clarify how countries define illegal deforestation and regulate land allocation processes. The work will contribute to broader discussions with the EC, EU Member States and EU delegations on EU policy options to address illegal deforestation, including on how the EU FLEGT Action Plan and VPAs can better address deforestation and forest conversion, as recommended by the EU FLEGT Action Plan evaluation.

3. Supporting transparent and inclusive land-use planning

The Common Mapping Platform, which was launched in February 2016, was developed to gather information relevant to local land-use planning from disparate sources and share it with all stakeholders with an interest in land. The platform covers the pilot municipality of Nguti and some of the south west region in Cameroon, and provides a broad set of social, environmental, and geographical data to inform land-use planning decisions.

The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT) has been involved at all stages of the development of the platform and is preparing for hosting the platform on its website to inform land-use planning. During 2016, the Facility worked with national stakeholders to define the scope and modalities for a new phase requested by MINEPAT.

The new phase, to be launched early in 2017, will consolidate the platform and develop a local land-use planning methodology in support of the implementation of the 2011 land-use planning law. Stakeholders in Nguti, and at the central and regional levels, have agreed that Nguti will be the first municipality to use the platform for implementing the 2011 land- use planning law.

4. Supporting the implementation of innovative forest- friendly sourcing policies

In Côte d’Ivoire, a comprehensive field assessment of a supply chain of a major multinational cocoa buyer included mapping forest and land-use in a pilot source area, assessing gaps in supply- chain traceability, reviewing improved farming practices and examining the feasibility of payments for environmental services for smallholders.

The assessment showed that the supply chains of even the most responsible cocoa buyers are significantly exposed to the risk of deforestation and, most notably, illegal deforestation. Buyers are currently not equipped to address the risk, in particular because of gaps and deficiencies in traceability systems.

The assessment deepened understanding of how deforestation-free policies might be implemented in complex supply chains dominated by loosely-organised smallholders.

The Facility and Côte d’Ivoire’s national REDD+ unit are developing tools for supply-chain actors willing to implement a deforestation-free sourcing policy in this context. An analysis of international and domestic public investments in the land-use sectors, provided important insights related to the opportunity of greening agricultural finance and increasing resources for forest protection in Côte d’Ivoire, in support of the development of the REDD+ investment plan. In parallel, the Facility supported the national REDD+ unit in negotiating a deforestation-free pilot programme with another chocolate company that is a key player in Côte d’Ivoire and globally.

In late 2016, the Facility worked with the national REDD+ unit to set up and train an independent body, the first of its kind in Côte d’Ivoire, to manage the payments for environmental services scheme in pilot areas as part of the implementation of the REDD+ Strategy and the Côte d’Ivoire Forest Investment Programme.

5. Improving transparency on deforestation risks related to commodity production and sourcing

The Facility is a partner in developing Trase (Transparency for Sustainable Economies), an online public platform that aims to improve the transparency, clarity and accessibility of information relating to the commodity supply chains that drive tropical deforestation. Trase is led by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the Global Canopy Programme (GCP).

The Facility works with Trase to tailor the platform to the needs of government, trade and customs authorities for monitoring the risks and opportunities in commodity production and trade, and to link such information to FLEGT and REDD+ monitoring systems. Our support focused on developing the Trase strategy, the online platform, initial case studies and stakeholder engagement.

The platform was launched at COP22, featuring case studies on Brazilian soy and timber exports. Also at COP22, the Facility organised a side event in collaboration with the European Commission on the potential offered such on transparency platforms for promoting deforestation-free trade.

Looking ahead

By consolidating the results of in-country and thematic work, and sharing lessons learned, the Facility will continue to inform EU and global action and policy development.

Developing partnerships and actively seeking opportunities for upscaling innovations through in-country and thematic work are essential for ensuring the sustainability of Facility results. Approaches developed by the Facility in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo will be made available to delivery partners of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), in addition to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the Forest Investment Fund (FIP), the UN-REDD Programme and EU bilateral cooperation programmes.

In 2017, the Facility will continue its work on:

  • Legality of land allocation and forest conversion in Cameroon, Indonesia, Laos and the Republic of the Congo
  • Inclusive land-use planning approaches in Cameroon
  • Public-private partnerships to promote zero-deforestation commodity production in Côte d’Ivoire
  • Sustainable land-use finance and strategic use of public finance to support scaling- up REDD+ in Côte d’Ivoire and Vietnam
  • Transparency in commodity supply chains that affect forest cover through its continued collaboration with the Trase platform
  • Participatory monitoring approaches to define, monitor and encourage sustainable, low-carbon development in Indonesia