Annual report

EU REDD Facility: Highlights from 2018

Developing solutions to tackle drivers of deforestation

At the EU REDD Facility, we help tropical forest countries to implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change; and to improve land-use governance as part of their efforts to slow, halt and reverse deforestation. The Facility has three objectives:

  1. Supporting the clarification and implementation of legal frameworks
  2. Enabling sustainable land-use investment and management
  3. Informing deforestation-free production and trade

This report presents highlights from the Facility’s work in 2018. Our activities focused on South-East Asia (Indonesia and Vietnam) and Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo). We also began work in Colombia and Ecuador, where national stakeholders and development partners are interested in the innovative and scalable solutions we can develop with them to support the transition to sustainable land use and commodity production.

Woman working with coffee beans.


Showing how clear and enforced legal frameworks for forest conversion help achieve climate goals

Rampant illegal conversion of forested land to other uses, such as agriculture, is one of the main forms of tropical deforestation, and it could prevent countries from achieving their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from land use under the Paris Agreement on climate change. Part of the problem is that, in many tropical countries, legal frameworks governing forest conversion are complex and unclear. This makes the law difficult to understand and to enforce. This in turn deters investment. It also hampers legal commodity production, often a crucial element of corporate sustainability commitments.

Take Indonesia, for example. The way its land and forests are used will have a major effect on the country’s progress towards its national climate change targets. The Facility is working with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and other stakeholders there to raise understanding of how better land-use governance and efforts to address illegal forest conversion can help Indonesia achieve those targets, while supporting progress towards economic and social development goals. The Facility’s support helps identifying different types of illegality, mapping them and assessing how much carbon they are emitting.

The Republic of the Congo is on a similar path, in the context of the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) African Palm Oil Initiative. The Government is committed to make the palm oil sector a sustainable driver of long-term, low-carbon development. The Facility works with the TFA national multistakeholder platform to clarify the legal requirements and administrative steps for land allocation and forest conversion, and to assess the government’s policy for redirecting agricultural investment into savannah areas. This allows the platform to set standards and indicators for legal, zero-deforestation and sustainable palm oil. Stakeholders are also discussing how the country can further integrate sustainability principles into its legal framework to promote a sustainable palm oil sector.

Oil palm plantation at the rainforest edge in Southeast Asia.

Encouraging sustainability definitions that take local producers and community needs into account

Consumers and companies often rely on public or private certification or licensing schemes to show that the items they buy are produced according to clear sustainability standards. But, in many countries, systemic issues make it difficult and/or expensive for producers to meet such standards. For instance, lack of land-use planning leads to conflicts over the use of land for crop production; complex administrative procedures prevent smallholders from securing tenure rights and accessing finance; and weak law enforcement amplifies issues such as corruption and child labour.

In May 2018, Bappeda, the planning agency in the Indonesian province of West Papua, adopted a system to monitor and inform progress towards sustainability. Developed with the Facility’s support since 2017, the system gathers information on land use, customary land registration, forest cover change, commodity production, access to infrastructure and the socioeconomic status of households. Local constituencies, including indigenous peoples, producers and their communities reached consensus on a workable definition of sustainability for the province that reflected their realities and the provincial sustainable development goals. Bappeda will use the monitoring system to ensure that the province’s special autonomy budget contributes to the priorities defined for its sustainable development.

Women working in agroforestry in Côte d’Ivoire.

Ensuring zero-deforestation approaches include smallholders’ perspectives and deliver environmental, social and economic benefits

Smallholders in the tropics produce a large share of the forest-risk commodities traded globally. With public and private actors increasingly committing to eliminating deforestation from supply chains, smallholders find themselves at the heart of a transition towards sustainable production. But how can smallholders invest in sustainable practices when they live below the poverty line and have limited access to finance? And how can large companies that buy products from smallholders help?

Some major companies that have committed to eliminate deforestation from their cocoa supply chains are encouraging smallholders and communities to implement zero-deforestation activities in exchange for technical and financial support. Yet for change to happen at scale, it is essential to understand the economic implications for smallholders. This is to ensure that these initiatives not only support the initial costs of shifting to sustainable production but also assess risks for smallholders and provide solid income diversification opportunities, alongside securing assets and building capacity. Such understanding is also key to ensuring that innovative financial solutions can scale up effective approaches.

As part of its efforts to mitigate climate change and implement its REDD+ national strategy, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire is implementing a forest-friendly agriculture policy. With assistance from the Facility, it is piloting a ‘payment for environmental services’ (PES) scheme to reintroduce trees in cocoa plantations and boost agricultural productivity, food security and living conditions of cocoa farmers while preserving forests and biodiversity.

The project, which started in 2017, is implemented through a public-private partnership with a major chocolate company. By December 2018, it had recruited 500 tree-planters and trained more than 900 cocoa farmers on agroforestry practices, such as growing seedlings and taking care of trees. They see agroforestry as a way to make their plantations more resilient to droughts and to diversify their revenues, in a time of volatile cocoa prices. Local women’s cooperatives run three nurseries set up to provide seedlings for the project, which is offering early lessons for future replication and scale-up.

The Facility also worked with the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) to propose to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and its partners financial solutions for scaling-up zero-deforestation cocoa production. The Facility and UNEP-FI then convened representatives of the Government, smallholders and the corporate and financial sector — at domestic and international levels — to discuss ways to incentivise the implementation of zero-deforestation agriculture commitments. As a result, major international financial institutions started engaging in the design of innovative finance to support zero-deforestation production. A partnership is in the making to help the country mobilise private finance for sustainable commodity production in 2019.

Cocoa bean.

Cocoa bean.

Contributing to an enabling environment for sustainable land-use management and commodity production, using the Facility’s tools and approaches

Public and private sector actions to support the transition to sustainable land management and commodity production must be coherent and coordinated. This requires clear definitions and ambition, effective monitoring systems, and regulatory frameworks that are in line with the country’s socioeconomic and environmental objectives. The Facility has therefore developed and contributed to three open-source tools — the Land-Use Finance Tool, the Land-Use Planner and Trase — to support local, national and international stakeholder dialogues based on the best available data and to elicit interest from governmental stakeholders in charge of planning, finance and policy coordination.

In Vietnam, the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s update of the Master Plan for the Central Highlands region provides opportunities to better integrate REDD+ objectives in future land-use decisions. The piloting of the Facility’s Land-use Finance Tool to map investments there shed light on potential mismatches between climate and land-use related policy objectives and planned spending in the region. Papua New Guinea also used the Land-use Finance Tool with support from UNDP to assess the contribution of land-use to the PNG economy and map financial flows aligned and not aligned to the country’s climate and forest objectives.

These cases led UNDP and the Green Climate Fund to include the Land Use Finance Tool in their guidance for countries making strategic decisions about finance as they act to meet their forest and land-use sector goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Regarding commodity production, the complexity and opacity of global supply chains has made it difficult to tackle deforestation within mainstream markets. Much effort has been invested in traceability and certification, but for the vast majority of commodities with deforestation risks there is simply no information to support action and policy implementation. By tracking commodities from their places of production to consumer countries through exporters and importers, the Transparency for Sustainable Economies (Trase) platform can systematically link supply-chain actors to specific production areas and better identify risks and opportunities. Trase has shown that more than half of the deforestation risk associated with soy imports from Brazil by Amsterdam Declarations signatories is in just 14 municipalities. Such understanding reveals whom to engage with and where to invest to reduce the risk of deforestation being caused by, for instance, EU commodity imports. This is essential for forging targeted policies and effective partnerships between producer and consumer countries, ultimately turning commitments into action on the ground.

Land-use Planner tool interface.

Land-use Planner tool interface.

Connecting the work of all initiatives working towards reducing deforestation is critical to achieving scale

In 2018, the Facility strengthened its collaborations with the Central African Forest Initiative and the Tropical Forest Alliance African Palm Oil Initiative, innovative investment dialogues, led by the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative, and with the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership, which is investing in dialogues between countries that produce and consume forest risk-commodities.

Read more

To read more about the Facility’s objectives, the rationale for our planned activities and how our communication efforts are informing EU and international policies on deforestation, please see our Strategic orientations for 2018-2022 – Reducing deforestation through improved land-use governance.