Daily report for 9 December 2016

Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) at CBD COP13

The theme for the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) on Friday, 9 December, was Forests and Agriculture. The event provided an opportunity to highlight perspectives of different stakeholders who are championing solutions for producers to improve their livelihoods, increase productivity and reduce losses and waste.

The event was organized by FAO, CBD and the Government of Mexico. GEF, World Forestry Centre (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), World Bank, Global Partnership on Forestry and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), Bioversity, and FERI (Korean Forest Service) were contributing organizers.  


Catalina Santamaria, CBD moderated the session. Rafael León Negrete, National Forest Commission (CONAFOR), Mexico, highlighted the importance of coordination between agriculture and forest sectors, noting that agricultural production is dependent on healthy forest ecosystems and called for avoiding incentives that compromise forest resources.

Hesiquio Benítez Díaz, National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), observed that mainstreaming biodiversity is linked to sustainable use of forest and agricultural resources. He underscored the importance of coordination and partnerships and lauded the Rio Conventions Pavilion as a space to further explore these issues. 

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary, outlined forest and agriculture interlinkages. On the role of forests, he emphasized: provision of water; pollination; carbon capture and protection from extreme weather events; and other services such as sources of food and shade for livestock.

Eva Muller, FAO, highlighted the FAO’s State of the World’s Forests 2016 report, noting the greatest loss of forests and gains in agricultural land are in tropical and low-income countries, with 40% of forest loss resulting from the transition to large-scale commercial agriculture. She said the report’s key message is that food security can be achieved without deforestation.

In the ensuing discussion, participants considered the link between agricultural intensification and deforestation, the importance of land use planning and policy, and the role of forests in maintaining soil fertility and in combating climate change.


Ulrich Apel, GEF, moderated the session. Terry Sunderland, CIFOR, discussed forests, ecosystems services and food security. He explained that his organization is looking at how to operationalize the landscape approach. This approach aims to embrace integrated solutions for people across sectors and is based on 10 principles, which have been adopted by many organizations at the grassroots level. Sunderland discussed forest functions, noting that links to food security and nutrition are not well understood. He outlined CIFOR’s efforts to disseminate knowledge on these linkages.

Emphasizing the importance of forests and the services they provide, Philip Dobie, ICRAF, explained that his organization focuses on: the role of trees on farms; improving farming systems; and increasing incomes and improving livelihoods. Pointing to continuing global pressure on farmlands, he said that 40% of the worlds’ terrestrial resources have been transformed into agricultural land and that agroforesty is an important tool for land restoration. He underscored the Bonn challenge on land restoration and SDGs, aimed at achieving land degradation neutrality.

On the livelihood and value chain connection, Dietmar Stoian, Bioversity International, cautioned against the notion of “forest dependent people,” and suggested viewing this relationship as a continuum between forest and agriculture activities. Noting that 25% of global forests are managed by communities, Stoian said further efforts are needed for business development and management of community forestry.

Presenting the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Pollination Assessment, Hein Ngo, IPBES, highlighted that pollinators need a diversity of flowering native plants as sources of pollen, quality nesting sites, and foraging and living areas free of pesticides, noting the importance of good patch size, connectivity and reduced fragmentation for healthy pollinators.

In the ensuing discussion, participants considered the economic viability of the landscape approach and how to improve insecticide risk assessment.


Sarah Nelson, BirdLife International, moderated this session. She explained that land use changes in wintering grounds in West Africa have contributed to the decline of certain bird species in Europe. Highlighting the Abuja Declaration, She noted that it identifies underlying drivers of land use change and recommends actions such as: integrating sustainable land management into regional policies and programmes; developing guidelines for common bird monitoring schemes; implementing the Convention on Migratory Species African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan; and good governance.

Ousainou Touray, Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, the Gambia, outlined his country’s policies and strategies aimed at facilitating sustainable conservation, including by increasing forestry cover from 22% to 30%; transferring 75% of forests from government to community and private management; addressing perverse agricultural incentives; and implementing the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing.

Phong Bui Dang, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam, discussed positive changes in his country’s forest cover, biodiversity and food security situation, highlighting factors such as land tenure rights for local communities; transitioning from state forestry to community management; diversifying agricultural production; engaging stakeholders in land use planning; and instituting payments for environmental services.

In response to questions from participants, Touray explained that the shift from government to community forestry management involves a transition phase where the forests are co-managed until the community develops sufficient capacity and establishes its own forest governance bylaws. He also noted that all levies from forestry activities go into a fund that supports community forestry projects. Phong added that Viet Nam has a Forestry Fund derived from the payment for ecosystem services schemes that support local communities.


Oliver Page, IFAD, moderated the session. Salman Hussain, UNEP, observed that The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative focuses on invisible benefits provided by biodiversity and well functioning ecosystems. He discussed TEEB for Agriculture and Food study, which examined Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania’s agroforestry sectors, noting that findings indicate that this sector is critical but remains undervalued. He highlighted agroforestry valuation models and outlined three levels of action centered on recognizing, valuing and capturing value.

Chikelu Mba, FAO, presented Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity into Agricultural Production Management in the Pacific Islands, a new technical guidance. He noted that the document focuses on diversified integrated farming systems and aims to: highlight ecosystem-based agriculture best practice to enable stakeholders to identify entry points with a higher probability of success; and foster collaboration amongst stakeholders.

Bernardo Strassburg, Executive Director, International Institute for Sustainability (IIS), presented on pasture land intensification in Brazil, noting that increasing production is possible without further deforestation, but that the challenge is to achieve this at scale. On constraints, he cited high costs, limited access to credit, and the absence of qualified labor.

Paul Gumonye Mafabi, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, discussed wetland ecosystem management in Uganda. On strategies, he highlighted catchment and river basin approaches linking upstream and downstream users. He underscored the use of protection zones to enable communities to pursue their activities while conserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem services.

Stuart Chape, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), outlined the programme’s activities in the region, where only 2% of the territory is covered by land. Highlighting susceptibility to shifting weather patterns and extreme weather events due to climate change, he stressed the need for further work on, among other things, ecosystem-based adaptation; soil fertility; watershed protection; and deforestation.


This session was moderated by Peter Besseau, Natural Resources Canada. Laura Plant, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), presented on the development of the WBCSD Landscape Connectivity Initiative aimed at making the business case for land connectivity. She discussed the role companies can play in landscape connectivity conservation, citing Syngenta and sugar growers in Colombia as an example.

Marianella Feoli, Fundecooperación, Costa Rica, outlined policies that led to an increase in Costa Rican forest cover from 21% in 1987 to 54% in 2015. She highlighted the removal of perverse land use incentives, imposition of a fuel tax to pay for ecosystem services, and changes in water utility charges to include fees for watershed protection. She also highlighted Costa Rica’s Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) relating to the livestock industry and coffee production.

Kaspar Wansleben, Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund (LMDF), discussed LMDF efforts to create a Forestry and Climate Change Fund with a focus on the forestry sector in developing countries. He said LMDF is concentrating on: helping medium-sized companies working with sustainably-sourced timber; supporting community forestry schemes; and exploring innovative financing schemes to help small producers usually excluded from the formal timber market.

In response to questions, Plant explained that the Colombian sugar scheme was successful because of robust Colombian environmental laws, the desire of farmers to extract a premium price for their product, and international companies seeking certified sustainably sourced sugar.


Blaise Boudin, CBD, moderated the session. Dietmar Stoian, Bioversity International, pointed to challenges in measuring sustainability, citing: incomplete, ill-defined or absent baselines; issues around whether to focus on biophysical or socioeconomic aspects; unclear definitions; and delineating coverage. He noted the need to ensure complementary across standards, and to integrate both bio-physical and socioeconomic aspects, adding that all stakeholders need to agree on definitions, and that country specific or regional approaches are required to identify zero deforestation zones. Stoian proposed: establishing mechanisms for monitoring; ensuring traceability and transparency of supply chains; sanctions for non-compliance; and raising consumer awareness.

Sarah Lake, Global Canopy Programme, provided an overview of Forest 500, which identifies and ranks the progress of the 250 companies that have the greatest potential to influence the race towards a deforestation-free global economy. She then showcased Trase, an online information and decision-support platform aimed at improving the sustainability of international agricultural commodity supply chains. The platform provides information on the traceability and sustainability performance of commodity supply chains at scale, covering entire countries and sectors of the economy.

Paulina Villalpando, High Conservation Value (HCV) Network, explained that HCVs are biological, ecological, social or cultural values which are considered outstandingly significant or critically important, at the national, regional or global level. She said the HCV approach entails identifying, managing and monitoring, and is a step towards achieving forestry or agricultural commodity certification. Villalpando observed that her network supports commodity certification schemes and trains and monitors the work of assessors in the field.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed: next efforts to scale up sustainability verification, monitoring private sector commitments; transparency of the supply chain; practical aspects of measuring sustainability standards on the ground; the challenge of engaging small holders in HCV assessments; and legal indicators, compliance and law enforcement.


Paulina Villalpando moderated the session. Rafael León Negrete, CONAFOR, highlighted his country’s programmes and strategies aimed at integrating biodiversity in agricultural and forestry sectors, including credits for land owners to restore and protect forests, and environmental certifications that align with international standards such as the Forest Stewardship Council. He noted efforts to build capacity of both national technicians and forest land owners in biodiversity conservation,

Cordula Epple, UNEP-WCMC, on behalf of Nigeria’s National UN-REDD Programme, presented Nigeria’s perspectives on REDD+, noting, inter alia, participatory governance assessment; analyses of drivers of deforestation; and mapping of forest value in Cross River State. She pointed to an analysis that helps identify sites for ecotourism, natural forests or PAs.

Chheang Dany, Forestry Administration, Cambodia, underscored the importance of forests to the Greater Mekong Subregion, saying that the region has experienced dramatic forest and species loss over the past 50 years. He attributed much of the loss to a lack of coordination and coherence among policy sectors. He noted that Cambodia is setting aside 30% of its land for conservation purposes.

Ulrich Apel, GEF, said GEF specializes in “breaking silos” between sectors and the three Rio Conventions in order to promote a more integrated approach that yields multiple environmental benefits, noting this was particularly true for projects involving sustainable forest management. He conveyed that GEF has funded about 150 sustainable forest management projects in all eligible member countries.