Summary report, 20–22 February 2018

“Working Across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area”

Organized by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), the International Conference “Working across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area - from Aspiration to Action” was held from 20-22 February 2018, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), in Rome, Italy. The conference brought together approximately 300 participants from governments, international organizations, the scientific community, private sector, civil society and farmer organizations. They discussed the challenges of halting and reversing deforestation, and explored ways to accelerate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 15.2 on halting deforestation by 2020, and Target 1.1 of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF), which calls for reversing the loss of forest cover and increasing forest areas by 3% worldwide by 2030.

The conference featured plenary and parallel thematic sessions, organized around the following themes: approaches to managing landscapes in an integrated way under a changing climate; sustainable commodities and value chains; forest smart policies and governance; and innovative instruments to upscale progress: financing, technologies and research. It produced a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions, and a series of key messages and proposals for action, which will be revised following the meeting according to suggestions of participants. They will be brought to the attention of the 2018 session of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) through the thirteenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF). The HLPF will meet under the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” and will review, among others, implementation of SDG 15 (Life on Land).


The CPF is an informal, voluntary arrangement among 14 international organizations and secretariats with substantial programmes on forests. It was established in 2001 in the International Arrangement on Forests to support the work of the UNFF and its member states. The CPF’s mission is to promote the sustainable management of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end. The CPF usually convenes to discuss strategic areas of coordination between CPF members and to provide input for the work of UNFF.

UNFF: The UNFF was established in 2000 as a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). UNFF’s principal functions are to: facilitate the implementation of forest-related agreements and foster a common understanding of sustainable forest management (SFM); provide for continued policy development and dialogue among Member States, international organizations and Major Groups; address forest issues and emerging areas of concern in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner; enhance cooperation, and policy and programme coordination on forest-related issues; foster international cooperation; and monitor, assess and report on progress.

UNFF-12 convened from 1-5 May 2017, following adoption by the UN General Assembly of the UNSPF, which includes linkages to the SDGs. UNFF-12 decided that UNFF-13 will focus on global and national actions to achieve the UNSPF Target 1.1 and SDG 15.2, with a view to provide input to the HLPF review in 2018.

2030 Agenda: In 2015, countries made a bold and ambitious commitment to sustainable development when adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 15.2 on Life on Land calls for halting deforestation by 2020.

HLPF: The HLPF was established in 2013, with the objective to provide political leadership, guidance, and recommendations for sustainable development; and follow up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments. Since 2016, the HLPF has started conducting regular reviews on the follow-up and implementation of SDGs within the context of the 2030 Agenda.



OPENING CEREMONY: On Tuesday, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, FAO, highlighted the urgency of achieving the targets of SDG 15 (Life on Land) and the UNSPF; and noted that, according to FAO’s report on the State of the World’s Forests, more than 25 countries managed to improve food security while maintaining, or even increasing, forest cover. She drew attention to FAO’s integrated approach to promoting the three pillars of sustainable development across agriculture, forestry and fisheries, complemented by a platform to facilitate political dialogue among all stakeholders.

Via video message, Marie Chatardová, ECOSOC President, stressed that the UNSPF provides a global framework for action by all stakeholders at all levels to preserve forest functions and benefits. She added that the UNSPF is a blueprint to fully realize the potential contribution of forests to sustainable development, and that sustainably managed forests contribute to several SDGs.

Manoel Sobral Filho, Director, UNFF Secretariat, stressed that the UNSPF target of increasing forest area globally by 3% by 2030 can be achieved, drawing attention the challenges of: improving forest management, eradicating extreme poverty for forest-dependent people, reducing reliance on firewood and charcoal for heating and cooking, and addressing other threats such as forest fragmentation, invasive species, and forest fires.

Amédi Camara, President, Council of Ministers of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, and Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Mauritania, highlighted challenges to halt deforestation in Africa, and the Great Green Wall project, an Africa-led initiative to foster reforestation with multiple social benefits for people at the frontline of climate change impacts.

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: On Tuesday, Co-Chair Hiroto Mitsugi, CPF Chair, highlighted the relevance of the conference to support SDG 15.2 and promote cross-sectoral dialogue. Co-Chair Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, UNFF-13 Chair, called for accelerating the implementation of the UNSPF targets.

Christiana Figueres, Convener, Mission 2020, highlighted that primary forests are irreplaceable and key to limit the temperature increase due to climate change to 1.5 º C as stated in the Paris Agreement. To achieve the 2020 targets on forests, she called for: urgent implementation of corrective actions; promoting cross-sectoral approaches; bringing together the nexus of land, food and forests; moving from threat-based to opportunity-oriented and from national to jurisdictional approaches.

Tony Simons, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), presented on the functions and value of forests; highlighted lack of data on forest degradation and differing understandings of deforestation; and identified required actions, including policy review to advance agroforestry, improve land use management and planning, leverage social capital, engage the private sector and consumers, and scale-up research. He advocated a strong message for forests, such as achieving 40% forest cover by 2040. Eva Müller, FAO, presented the Conference objectives and working modalities.

On Wednesday, Sharon Dijksma, Member of Parliament, the Netherlands, highlighted the need for transformative action, saying the international community has “the instruments, the processes, the political commitment, the goals” to halt deforestation and increase forest area, and needs to shift to action. She called for linking sustainable forest management to national implementation of the Paris Agreement, averting greenwashing and investing in climate-smart agriculture and land use management. She presented a novel partnership between the Netherlands, Malaysia, Indonesia, and key partners on sustainable forest management.

Presenting on a private sector perspective, Howard-Yana Shapiro, Mars, Inc., drew attention to the Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility as the first private sector facility operating at scale, and called for focusing solely on five performance standards: productivity, profitability, environmental stewardship, good governance and management and social inclusion.

Salina Abraham, International Forestry Students Association (IFSA), reported on discussions held during Monday’s youth informal session. She urged participants to “shake the coconut tree” and shift the way in which international fora address deforestation so as to reach broader audiences. She advocated considering youth and indigenous peoples as valuable partners rather than just stakeholders to be consulted.


APPROACHES TO MANAGING LANDSCAPES IN AN INTEGRATED WAY UNDER A CHANGING CLIMATE: People-Centered Approaches to Integrated Landscape Management: This session, moderated by Tom Hammond, FAO, addressed key success factors in integrated landscape management and instrumental strategies to long-term sustainability.

Barron Orr, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), said land degradation neutrality (LDN) provides a policy framework for land management, and noted that more than 114 countries have committed to adopt land degradation targets to maintain or enhance the quality of their land resources. He said LDN planning can help in: anticipating future degradation; identifying areas for restoration; and enhancing social benefits.

Cora van Oosten, Wageningen University, the Netherlands, suggested breaking through silos and sectors towards broader landscape planning. Highlighting discussions with the youth, she indicated that “spaces for dialogue” among key stakeholders could help to overcome fragmentation in landscape management. She said institutions, customs and traditions are key in successful landscape restoration.

Godlisten Matilya, African Wildlife Foundation, highlighted benefit-sharing arrangements developed in a project in Tanzania, which were based on criteria developed in a participatory manner and considering forest management performance.

Augusta Mindry Anandy, US Agency for International Development, said a multi-level governance approach is key for forest management. Based on an Indonesian experience, she stressed the relevance of participatory land use planning to ensure social and legal legitimacy of restoration initiatives.

Saah David, Forestry Development Authority, Liberia, described preparations for REDD+ implementation in his country, which led to developing a national REDD+ strategy. He underscored opportunities such as improving farming practices.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed, inter alia: the need to incorporate new approaches to deforestation, such as the nexus between energy, water and forests; the essential role of primary forests; making multi-stakeholder dialogues durable over time; engaging communities through production and protection agreements; and the potential effects of national definitions of forest in primary forests conservation.

During the Wednesday morning plenary, Tiina Vahanen, FAO, highlighted key messages from the session including, inter alia:

  • working with farmers and local communities, and with sectors beyond forestry is key;
  • the landscape approach is well-suited to deliver integrated solutions;
  • LDN provides a global policy framework for delivering people-centered approaches; and
  • investment barriers must be removed to replicate win-win situations at the local level where sustainable farming is increased and deforestation decreases.

Agroforestry and Silvo-Pastoral Systems: Moderated by Tony Simons, ICRAF, this session discussed evidence of agroforestry’s contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation, restoring productivity of landscapes and ecosystems, and improving the resilience of socio-economic systems.

Presenting on South Sumatra Green Growth Planning, Sonya Dewi, ICRAF, urged for integration of deforestation into green growth policies and for inclusive work with stakeholders. She identified land tenure insecurity as a main obstacle to agroforestry practices.

Milton Kanashiro, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), discussed the Brazilian legal and policy framework for agroforestry, and social movements for forest management. He highlighted inter-ministerial involvement at the federal, state and municipality level, and broad societal engagement.

Yasmin Cajas, Silvo-Pastoral Systems, presented a case study from Colombia showcasing how silvo-pastoral systems increase livestock productivity, plant biomass, biodiversity, and animal welfare, leading to reduced deforestation and improved sustainability and livelihoods.

Daniel Ofori, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, discussed examples of how agroforestry is used to curb deforestation in Ghana, including mixed systems of plantain, coconut, cocoa and timber. He concluded that agroforestry promotes landscape restoration and biodiversity conservation; increases resilience, food security and poverty alleviation; and leads to sustained and diversified sources of income.

Maria Rosa Mosquera-Losada, European Agroforestry Federation, drew attention to agroforestry and silvo-pastoral systems in Europe, highlighting policy measures aiming to afforestation of agricultural land, and risks arising from forest fires.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, among other issues: water management; challenges related to local community engagement; conditions for scaling up successes; and the special case of primary and ancient forests.

Key messages from this session presented in plenary included:

  • natural forest conversion is significant, and multiple-scale assessments need to relate to local contexts;
  • evidence suggests that agroforestry can achieve both environmental outcomes and increase productivity;
  • strategic efforts are needed to retain natural forest at natural scales and also to preserve biodiversity;
  • major constraints to agroforestry include land tenure legislation, market failures and time gaps;
  • integrated policy and institutional reform together with an enabling environment and technological innovation is required to create a level-playing field;
  • the cost of agroforestry increases in relation to the intensity and number of objectives to meet; and
  • investment in a knowledge-intensive agroforestry establishment is needed to reach sustainable development-related goals.

Forest Management and Landscape Restoration: The session, moderated by Tim Christophersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), discussed examples of approaches and measures to reduce deforestation and forest landscape restoration.

Tangu Tumeo, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi, said a national assessment revealed that 80% of the land in Malawi is degraded. For restoration initiatives she suggested: ensuring that all voices in communities, particularly women and youth, are taken into account; taking advantage of relevant traditional and cultural aspects; and putting in place incentives for farmers. 

Rafael Barreiro, Environmental Secretariat, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, introduced a local watershed restoration initiative, indicating that factors for success were clear and easy-to-measure indicators and putting in place incentives for achievements.

Carlos Alberto Mesquita, Consultant, highlighted the complexities and benefits of restoration at the landscape level. He stressed the need for multiple stakeholder involvement in restoration planning and development.

Gustavo Suarez de Freitas, Earth Innovations Institute, Peru, said the fragmentation between climate governance, biodiversity and agriculture existing both at the international and national levels results in a fragmentation of funding. Showcasing jurisdictional initiatives, he advocated broader landscape- and process-based approaches to land restoration, as opposed to forest- and project-based ones.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed, inter alia: whether agricultural subsidies hinder forest protection efforts; youth engagement in restoration; whether and how to enhance technical training on forestry in developing countries; the key role of culture and women in restoration initiatives; and ecological restoration which implies preparing an adequate environment for restoration to take place naturally.

During Wednesday’s plenary, key messages from this session were presented, including:

  • key factors for success in restoring landscapes are: effective communication strategies; capacity building and awareness of local communities; multi-stakeholder involvement, particularly of women and youth; and understanding culture and the land legal framework;
  • addressing forests, freshwater, feed, food and fuel in a balanced manner is key; and
  • further financing strategies and government incentives are required, including inspiration, knowledge and financial transfer.

Sustainable Agricultural Production Approaches: Chaired by Clayton Campanhola, FAO, and moderated by Chun Lai, independent consultant, the session discussed: changes required to increase agricultural production sustainably while helping to halt deforestation; mixed or integrated production systems that can be scaled up; and actions required to move towards more sustainable production systems.

Kwesi Atta-Krah, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, stressed that peoples’ needs are central in both sustainable agriculture and sustainable forest management. Drawing attention to the need for community engagement, he called for increasing awareness on sustainable land management, and for mosaic landscape approaches that increase productivity and deliver ecosystem services.

Dennis Garrity, ICRAF, via video, presented on EverGreen agriculture, including examples of tree-crop production systems, such as use of trees on the field and farm boundaries, and farmer-managed natural regeneration schemes in the drylands.

Aletia Melissa Pérez-Picon, Integrated Pastoral Systems, presented experience with tree integration in livestock farming in Costa Rica, enabled by a policy framework that supports rational grazing and payments for ecosystem services (PES).

Donald Macintosh, Asian Institute of Technology, showcased an experience in Viet Nam regarding integrated mangrove forests-shrimp aquaculture systems, noting that such systems protect coastal areas against climate change at a low cost, increase mangrove forest cover and create incentives for farmers by allowing for organic shrimp certification.

Vu Le Y Voan, Viet Nam National Farmers Union, drew attention to local experiences with mixed farming, stressing the need to strengthen farmer organizations and establish cooperatives to improve production and livelihoods. Howard-Yana Shapiro, Mars, Inc., called for science-based action and focus on yield.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, among other issues, water sustainability, and investments to drive transformational change.

Key messages from this session presented in Wednesday’s plenary included:

  • trees play a critical role in improving many agricultural systems, including those related to water, soil, productivity, livelihoods, and climate change impacts, and can be further integrated in agricultural production systems;
  • there is considerable experience in integrating trees and forests in sustainable agricultural systems, the challenge is to upscale them;
  • upscaling more integrated and sustainable production systems will depend on their adoption by producers which requires that they are more profitable and productive than current systems, as well as managing issues related to resilience, equity and social inclusion;
  • coordinated actions and new forms of corporate arrangements are needed to create an enabling environment to change agricultural systems, including: community organizations promoting knowledge and experience sharing; policy makers setting targets for promotion of sustainable agricultural production systems; legal frameworks and funding to create incentives for consumers and producers; the science and research community addressing issues of upscaling; and investors taking on some of the cost and risks; and
  • a common vision for sustainable food and agriculture in the 2030 Agenda can serve as a key accelerator for changing mindsets, policies and practices.

SUSTAINABLE COMMODITIES AND VALUE CHAINS: Achieving Corporate Commitments and Zero Deforestation Initiatives for Agricultural Commodities: Moderated by Charles O’ Malley, UN Development Programme (UNDP), the session investigated the role of the private sector in efforts to reduce deforestation.

Stephen Donofrio, Forest Trends, highlighted the need for collaboration between producer and demand countries, and reporting pathways to increase transparency.

Toshimasa Masuyama, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan, reported on the International Symposium on the Promotion of Deforestation-Free Global Supply Chains to Contribute to Halting Deforestation, held in Tokyo, Japan, from 23-24 January 2018. He highlighted key messages, including that: deforestation-free global supply chains play a critical role in achieving many SDGs and Aichi targets; the private sector should establish sound procurement policies and continue to disclose information concerning their implementation status; efforts should be made to build capacity for establishing and operating verified legal and sustainable supply chains; and efforts should be made to develop and disseminate innovation tools to improve market transparency, and to enhance the credibility and reliability of procurement policies.

During a panel discussion, Christopher Steward, OLAM, noted that experience with certification shows that it is an incomplete way to address deforestation. He identified as the biggest obstacle to sustainable production the fact that nobody is ready to pay for it, adding that companies that invest in sustainable production do not necessarily succeed in the market. Francesca Ronca, Italian Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance, stressed the need to inform consumers and the media about deforestation-related commitments.

Agus Purnomo, Golden Agri-Resources Ltd., Indonesia, said the big companies engaged in palm oil production already tackle deforestation concerns, stressing the need to bring along smallholders in remote areas. Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Forestry Commission of Ghana, urged concerted action to provide alternative livelihoods to stop deforestation. Christiaan Prins, Barry Callebaut Group, said tackling deforestation needs to go hand in hand with the organization of production, noting that intensification of cocoa production in Ghana is needed to stop its extension into the forest.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed issues related to traceability, leakage and alternative markets, the need for an enabling environment including law enforcement, and a positive narrative as an inspiring element for companies.

Giovanni Brunelli, Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, Italy, closed the session highlighting: experience regarding inclusion of the private sector in cooperation with developing countries; and the need for governments to understand and use existing legal and policy tools to address sustainability challenges.

Key messages from this session presented in Wednesday’s plenary included:

  • there is a need to engage small-scale producers in zero-deforestation initiatives, including those fighting for survival, and creating financial incentives to that regard;
  • the premium for sustainable production is insufficient, and there is a need for consumer education to reward sustainable products;
  • there is a need for inspiring visions and a positive framework to engage the corporate sector; and
  • government leadership is necessary, including in enforcing the law.

Forest Products Value Chains in the Bio-Economy: The session was moderated by Sheam Satkuru, International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). Emmanuelle Maire, European Commission, said sustainable wood products can contribute to moving from a linear economy to a circular economy with reduced residual waste. To unlock the potential of forest value chains, she highlighted: increasing innovation and resource efficiency along the supply chain; creating public policies that enhance markets for sustainable wood; and tackling corruption and illegalities in sustainable forest management.

Ulrich Grauert, INTERHOLCO, described how his company addresses responsible wood production in the Congo river basin with a focus on social and other environmental benefits, such as enhancement of human rights, anti-corruption measures and promotion of land use rights. He urged for strengthening enabling environments for private business to comply with high standards in sustainable forest management as a means to facilitate the economic viability of sustainable practices.

Andrea Stocchero, Scion Research, highlighted the benefits of using sustainable wood in construction, such as durability. He noted that opportunities for achieving the SDGs come from all the components of the value chain of sustainable wood use, and called for raising awareness about the benefits of using sustainable wood.

Camille Rebelo, EcoPlanet Bamboo, explained that her company restores degraded areas with bamboo, which is used for different products. She said: forest industries can and should result in positive land use change; and scaling down manufacturing and supply chains can ensure inclusivity and a wider resource base of wood and fiber.

Tieme Wanders, Form International, identified challenging factors in sustainable forest management in Africa, including: access to finance; the perception of the forestry sector as risky; complexities to build human capacities; and access to land. He said it is the governments’ responsibility to generate an enabling environment.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed: the carbon storage potential of wood used in construction; and the need for changing public perceptions on the use of sustainable wood for construction, compared to other materials.

Gerhard Dieterle, Executive Director, ITTO, closed the session highlighting the need for: overcoming the “bad” image of timber and wood production in association with corruption and illegality; incentivizing sustainable practices; and training on sustainable practices across the value chain.

During Wednesday’s plenary, moderator Satkuru highlighted key messages, including:

  • further finance, training and education to produce and foster the demand of sustainable wood are needed;
  • an enabling environment through enhanced governance and rule of law must be fostered;
  • the demand of sustainable wood products should be promoted;
  • incentives for the good sustainable players in the private sector must be put in place; and
  • there is a need for upscaling awareness raising “from the market to the source.”

A participant underscored the need to facilitate professional technical assistance to smallholders in forestry and agriculture. Another proposed creating a global fund supported by the private sector to recognize successful initiatives at the local level.

Valuing Forest Ecosystem Services: Moderated by Alexander Buck, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the session addressed practices and challenges in valuaing forest ecosystems and forest natural capital, and ways to communicate the importance of integrating forest value in decision-making.

Gerhard Dieterle, Executive Director, ITTO, said PES must be flexible instruments to accommodate both up-front and ex-post transfer of benefits to actors involved in restoration and forest protection activities. He said payments should be simple and direct and PES construed in a bottom-up fashion.

Jorge Mario Rodríguez Zuñiga, National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO), Costa Rica, described his country’s implementation of a national PES scheme, based on four key elements: establishment of a tax on fossil fuels; clear definition of the environmental services to be compensated in the law; establishment of an institution in the law; and provision of incentives to smallholders.

Ravi Prabhu, ICRAF, said understanding the value of forest is not simple but is essential. Based on a comparative example of agroforestry and monocrops, he highlighted how “you can get much more of what apparently looks like much less,” as in agroforestry the trade-off in productivity is overcompensated by trade-ups in other values.

Bhaskar Vira, Cambridge University, said economic techniques to quantify and monetize values are inadequate and incomplete to address issues such as pollination, resilience-associated values and the value of nature itself. He cautioned against making valuing too complex and alienating the public and decisions-makers from including the value of forests in decision making. He suggested focusing on the stock of forests as an asset, as it provides a less complex and more credible approach to valuing forests in decision making.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed: moving from perverse incentives to positive ones; understanding market failures; the relevance of effective institutional frameworks and how including forests under agricultural institutions can hinder the consideration of the environmental perspective of forests in decision making; and social safeguards to operationalize fair payments to forest people.

During Wednesday’s plenary, moderator Buch highlighted key messages from the session, including that:

  • it is essential to put a value on forests and their benefits to make the case for halting deforestation;
  • findings suggest that degradation is becoming an increasingly relevant problem which requires incentives in place; and
  • it is key to provide enabling conditions for assigning a value to forests along the supply chain.

Strengthening Small-Scale Producers and their Organizations: Moderated by Jeffrey Campbell, Forest and Farm Facility, FAO, the session discussed innovative approaches to strengthen the business and management capacity of small-scale producers and their organizations; and ways to scale up successful initiatives. Calling for investing in small-scale producers and giving them more leverage, James Mayers, International Institute for Environment and Development, described them as a diverse and flexible group, often remaining outside official regulatory systems but in practice supporting production and the economy. He stressed that a fast-changing picture, including Chinese investment in Africa and investment treaties, creates both problems as well as opportunities.

Marcedonio Cortave, Association of Forest Communities of Petén, Guatemala, presented a community-based mixed production system, involving timber, honey, and ornamental palm tree production, as well as tourism activities. Vu Le Y Voan, Viet Nam National Farmers Union, urged strengthening farmers’ organizations and providing them with training for business planning. Tint Swe, Ministry of Forestry, Myanmar, drew attention to the national regulatory framework, including instructions allowing forest-dependent communities to first fulfil subsistence needs and later develop forestry enterprises. He stressed the need for government facilitation between smallholders and companies. Ben Valk, Rabobank, stressed that successful financing of small-scale producers depends on organizing the entire value chain, including farmer organizations, training, and market development. Peter deMarsh, International Family Forestry Alliance, presented on a mixed agroforestry enterprise involving honey production, highlighting village savings and loan associations. He said preconditions for smallholders’ success includes secure tenure, market access, quality extension services and associations for their representation.

Monica Gabay, Environmental Policy Secretariat, Argentina, stressed the need to recognize smallholders’ contribution to global sustainability, and convince them to get organized. She urged governments to adopt enabling regulations, invest in business training, and develop alternative livelihoods strategies.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, among other issues, the need for: partnerships and experience sharing between smallholders; state support for access to markets; formalization and recognition of the informal sector; and a suggestion to create a new global programme on a forest-farm facilitation network.

Key messages from the session presented in Wednesday’s plenary included:

  • the need to make visible and evident the sheer and dramatic dimensions of small-scale producers;
  • the key role of farmer organizations for market access, policy influence, and reducing risks;
  • key conditions to reduce deforestation, including securing tenure, helping to improve access to services and markets, access to finance and investment, and the right to form associations;
  • the need for business development skills;
  • the need to develop cross-sectoral processes for enabling policies, including removing barriers for small-scale producers, and developing incentives-related programmes;
  • the need to improve the relationship between different parts of the private sector, and increase horizontal learning; and
  • the need to scale up through recognizing the sector’s importance as well as financing and support for extension services.

FOREST SMART POLICIES AND GOVERNANCE: Cross-Sectoral Policy Coordination: Moderated by Catalina Santamaria, Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Secretariat, this session investigated how sectoral policies outside the forest sector have helped minimize impacts on forests while still meeting international objectives and how to optimize forest policies to meet other sectoral priorities.

Mustafa Gozukara, Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkey, presented a video showcasing the country’s large-scale afforestation campaign for erosion control and combatting desertification. Noting that most countries have set targets, he stressed the need to move into action. Sidney Medeiros, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Brazil, presented on the regulatory framework and agricultural intensification, including a strong forest code mandating preservation of native vegetation in farms, adoption of low carbon agriculture by farmers due to its economic feasibility, and availability of loans to fund low carbon agriculture. He stressed the need to scale up best practices by providing technical assistance to more farmers.

Anthony McKenzie, National Environment and Planning Agency, Jamaica, highlighted lessons learnt from mangrove management, focusing on: recognition of the benefits offered to other sectors and the society at large; and application of mitigation banking; and policy integration with sectors on conservation, disaster management, fisheries, and tourism. He called for mechanisms and tools to support decision making with respect to trade-offs. Angelo Sartori, Ministry of Agriculture, Chile, presented the country’s system aligning monitoring and information requirements for the three Rio Conventions, involving coordination between different ministries, and the involvement of academia, the private sector and several productive sectors. He stressed the need for laws and clear institutional roles to ensure implementation and continuity of policies. Thomas Maddox, Fauna and Flora International, presented on mining and deforestation, noting that mining is second to agriculture as a driver of deforestation, but can have significant local impacts. He stressed that the landscape approach needs to involve the private sector and civil society.

In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed, among others: carbon tax in Chile; law enforcement in Brazil; indirect impacts of mining; importance of communication and information-sharing with other sectors; government instability, resulting in poor policy implementation; and the role of civil society.

Improving Land Governance: The session, moderated by Chun Lai, independent consultant, addressed government measures to improve land governance, to contribute to halt deforestation and improve local livelihoods.

Carin Smaller, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), said large-scale investment in land is an important driver of deforestation and land conflicts globally, noting that country measures include: moratoria to further land deals; making information publicly available; and new laws to better protect forests and customary rights. She recommended: land tenure systems that recognize customary rights without entrenching gender inequality and discrimination; and adopting regional and global principles and sustainability standards for the private sector. She said enforcement of existing laws is key. Nie Fengying, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, explained how her country has reversed the trends in deforestation by adopting policies and clarifying smallholders’ tenure rights. She underscored that action is needed, but no single solution can address countries’ problems.

Pablo Pacheco, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), explained how Brazil has recognized community land tenure and is one of the few countries that increased agricultural activity while reducing deforestation. He indicated key factors to reduce deforestation, including: innovative agreements; transparency and civil society awareness; and law enforcement. Noting that Indonesia has not yet managed to stabilize expansion of commercial agriculture, he described challenges related to land tenure, including the number of smallholders illegally settling on public lands and the need to incentivize them to undertake more sustainable practices. He underscored the need for government openness to partnerships, including local ones, and enhanced transparency. 

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed, inter alia, examples of challenges in land governance, and the relevance of having good laws and enforcing them.

Dominique Reeb, FAO, highlighted, among other key messages, that: land tenure is crucial for halting deforestation; no system or investment can take place without an adequate legal framework; and tenure arrangements must be supported by other public policies.

Role of Different Stakeholders: Moderated by Vincent Gitz, CGIAR Consortium, the session explored a value chain perspective on stakeholder coordination.

Lamin Dibba, Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, the Gambia, presented on introducing community-based forest management practices through community-based institutions, noting how securing tenure and integrating food security concerns can contribute to curb deforestation. Cecile Ndjebet, African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests, highlighted the different functions and activities of actors within value chains, noting the importance of understanding their respective roles and contributions. Petra Meekers, Musim Mas Holdings, stressed the responsibility of companies to engage with local governments and local communities. Marco Albani, Tropical Forest Alliance, drew attention to business responsibility to create an enabling environment, and civil society’s role to both create the conditions for business to care about the environment and lead capacity building activities.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Conservation International, presented on the Costa Rican experience on reforestation and poverty reduction, on the basis of positive incentives, institutional developments, introducing carbon and water taxes to finance PES, and good governance. He further suggested that the conference offer a recommendation on primary forests. Salina Abraham, IFSA, called on participants to tap into the potential of youth.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, among other issues: Finland’s Forest Forum for Decision Makers; environmentally friendly digital currencies; the need to reverse lack of transparency in governance, poor governance and corruption; the need to reflect environmental externalities in national accounting systems; and the landscape perspective on stakeholder coordination, including reconciling their different objectives and expectations.

The Role of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT): The session, moderated by Chun Lai, independent consultant, addressed how demand-side regulations can trigger changes towards legality and sustainability in producer countries and lessons learned in addressing governance challenges through multi-stakeholder processes. Emmanuelle Maire, European Commission, introduced the adoption of the FLEGT policy in the EU.

In a keynote address on the lessons learned from FLEGT initiatives to halt deforestation, Charles Barber, World Resources Institute, highlighted the key role of effective multi-stakeholder participation, which requires adequate counselling and support. He described the increasing relevant role of trade agreements in regulating timber legality, and key challenges in fighting illegal logging, including combating corruption and violence against environmentalists and smallholders. He highlighted that the circumstances of illegal logging vary greatly among countries and should be addressed in context.

Rob Busink, Netherlands, highlighted how FLEGT has incentivized enhancing forest governance in developing countries, such as in Ghana, through the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs). He said that, according to VPAs, countries can sell timber in the EU market. He added that demand-side measures, such as procurement policies, can have a key role in stopping the illegal timber trade, noting that there are no international rules to charge countries that introduce illegal products in the market which undermines those that are sustainably produced. Deborah Harris, Department of Justice, US, said the Lacey Act prohibits the import of illegal timber and plant species in her country. She said supply countries should pass domestic legislation to protect the resource at its origin. Saah David, Forestry Development Authority, Liberia, said illegal timber in his country relates to use for energy and small-scale agriculture.

Christopher Stewart, OLAM, said the drivers of deforestation and illegal logging should be considered in each specific context. He said the private sector can help in training, but adequate governance frameworks should be developed by governments. He supported moving from national to jurisdictional approaches, and from policy to implementation, to enhance enforcement of laws.

Abraham Baffoe, ProForest, said deforestation is a national issue requiring each actor to contribute their part. Although Ghana has not yet managed to export timber to the EU market, he said FLEGT has launched a beneficial multi-stakeholder process in the country. He suggested tropical countries should consider certification and sustainable practices as requirements for the private sector.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed, among other issues: breaching the gap between private sector and government; addressing corruption; putting in place effective land tenure arrangements; and expanding collaboration across demand-side countries to ensure a level-playing field in the timber market.

INNOVATIVE INSTRUMENTS TO UPSCALE PROGRESS: FINANCING, TECHNOLOGIES AND RESEARCH: Public and Private International Finance: Moderated by Andrew Mitchell, Global Canopy & Ecosphere+, the session addressed how public and private financial sectors can collaborate for a stronger impact on sustainable land use.

Eduardo Juarez Mejia, FINDECA, Mexico, explained his experience in providing credit financing to support rural development in Mexico for sustainable productive projects, where funds from the World Bank’s Forest Investment Program played a critical role. He highlighted the need for concessional loans to finance part of the initial cost of smallholders’ initiatives, and for guarantee funds to reduce the risks of such initiatives.

Ben Valk, Rabobank, presented the bank’s partnership with UN Environment for forest protection and sustainable agriculture, resulting in a $1 billion fund to provide grants, de-risk investment and confer credits in the area of sustainable land use practices. He said eligible projects have to focus on at least forest protection and reforestation or sustainable land use and, at the same time, contribute to improved rural livelihoods.

Based on a country study in Côte d’ Ivoire, Adeline Dontenville, European Forestry Institute, explained that domestic public finance negatively impacting forests is often more significant than public investment with positive effects on forests, generating incoherent national policies. To align public investment to forests and climate objectives, she suggested creating: sectoral supply chain guidelines through multi-stakeholder processes; comprehensive investment frameworks; and transformative interventions through public-private partnerships (PPPs) and co-financing. While international public finance is key for REDD+ technical preparations, she said: the private sector has a role to play in REDD+ results-based payments; and measures in timber-importing countries, such as transparency, are essential.

Tom Alpe, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK, wondered how to breach the gap in finance and reframe the financial gaps in public funding as an opportunity. He underscored alternatives including, inter alia: supporting speeding up the development of carbon markets, such as for REDD+ credits; focusing on the enabling environment and on policy coherence; and promoting innovative partnerships.

In ensuing discussions, participants addressed: limitations for providing international development aid to smallholders in countries that are not considered to be developing countries; shifting the way in which national accounting systems address forests; facilitating aggregation of smallholders; ways to catalyze funds for building local capacities to start local projects; the role of digital platforms in upscaling smallholders’ initiatives; and the need for more demand-side signals in importing countries.

Innovative Technologies for Land Use Monitoring: Moderated by Gilberto Câmara, National Institute for Space Research, Brazil, the session explored scientific and technological developments related to Earth observation. Câmara highlighted that the availability of big data is changing Earth observation, calling for devising new conceptual views and new approaches to deal with the amount of data. Erik Lindquist, FAO, presented FAO’s System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL), a cloud-based, easy to use, platform aiming to facilitate countries’ access to, and processing of, Earth observation data.

Daniel Irwin, NASA, US, underscored: partnerships with regional organizations under the SERVIR programme, aiming to provide state-of-the-art, satellite-based Earth monitoring data and geospatial information, and build capacities among developing countries; and Collect Earth Online, an open-source, web-based platform building on FAO’s Collect Earth, created to collect reference data from multiple users to classify and monitor land cover and land use change. 

Diego Mohr Bell, Conocimiento e Innovación en Bosques Patagónicos, Argentina, presented their own-developed unmanned aerial vehicles, used to achieve cost-efficient aerial surveying systems to estimate structural forest variables through 3D point cloud representation, for data integration into a multi-scale and multi-sensory system. Phoebe Oduor, SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa Hub, Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development, stressed that the current availability of open access data is crucial for developing countries, and drew attention to capacity-building programmes to use Synthetic Aperture Radar data, among other training work in the region, and dissemination of knowledge via their online platform. Sara Aparicio, European Space Agency, described how big data brings in a paradigm shift with regard to processing, storage and data handling, and how artificial intelligence has the potential to add incremental value to Earth observation through automation of land use monitoring.

The ensuing discussion addressed issues related to the technological innovations presented, training and education opportunities, and space debris.

Financial Instruments to Mobilize Domestic Funding: Moderated by Hanta Rabetaliana, former General Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Madagascar, the session addressed financial instruments to help national forest financing strategies raise additional financing and make more efficient use of resources.

Alain Karsenty, Centre for Agricultural Research, Cooperation and Development (CIRAD), France, identified, among other options for ensuring forest domestic funding in the mid- and long-term, including for PES programmes: levies, taxes, earmarked fees, and biodiversity offsetting. He said the private sector should work with municipalities to mobilize tax resources for local development.

Youssef Saadani, former Director General of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Tunisia, described a green national pact signed in 2014, which brought together the government, enterprises, farmers and fishers’ unions, with the purpose of protecting and fostering sustainable land use practices. He underscored: communication to the public of the objectives of the initiatives; and transparency. Pascal Martinez, Global Environment Facility (GEF), said the GEF has financed 432 projects in forestry, many of which exemplify how to scale up finance for forest protection and introduce innovative ways of funding and synergies.

In the ensuing discussions, participants addressed, inter alia: challenges to develop taxes and other domestic instruments; replicating experiences across countries and developing context-specific concepts for the South; allocating domestic funding to avoid perverse subsidies; and the need to facilitate regular incomes for investors, given the long-term nature of return in forest investments compared to investments in other land use activities, such as livestock production.

Moderator Rabetaliana highlighted the need to ensure that incomes from the forest sector are directed to the sector’s enhancement. Ulrich Apel, GEF, highlighted key messages, including that:

  • there are good examples of how to upscale finance for sustainable land use, but better communication in promoting and expanding those ideas is needed; 
  • PES helps to capture the value of forests, incentivize changes in behavior and mobilize domestic funding;
  • zero deforestation commitments provide new dynamics for building PPPs;
  • there are opportunities across the commodity supply chain;
  • an enabling environment for the private sector to engage must be created;
  • strong political will and a shared long-term vision for society is needed;
  • governments should generate adequate incentives and diminish perverse ones to help channel financing to forest protection; and
  • integrated approaches at landscape and jurisdictional scales involving all sectors and including local communities are key.

Role of science and research: Moderated by John Parrotta, IUFRO, the session discussed the role of science and research in supporting effective governance arrangements for halting deforestation.

Calling upon participants to move beyond already agreed language, Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the FAO, urged the scientific community, along with civil society, to “give the wake-up call” and build the business case for forests. Daniela Kleinschmit, University of Freiburg, Germany, characterized deforestation as a “wicked” problem involving numerous disciplines, stakeholders, worldviews, and political agendas. Noting that the scientific community has already criticized decision makers, as in the cases of financial interests blocking decisions or private sector involvement lacking in legitimacy and accountability, she said democratic and transparent decision making requires the orchestration of different forms of knowledge.

Vincent Gitz, CGIAR, said science can show linkages between sectors in ways previously ignored, and construct evidence in a solution-oriented way, noting that inter-sectoral and integrative approaches can facilitate dialogue among stakeholders. Avery Cohn, Tufts University, presented examples indicating that difficult research questions require transparency and partnership between scientists, decision makers and civil society, stressing that research should assess the effectiveness of new policy mixes and valuate the co-benefits of avoided deforestation.

Noting that the science-policy interface needs to be credible, transparent and legitimate, Pablo Pacheco, CIFOR, suggested five areas for science to contribute to triggering change, including: reframing theories of change to understand what is the most cost-effective way to reach the required impact; understanding the effectiveness of new governance approaches; exploring the potential of technological innovations and business models that are able to produce social benefits; devising global monitoring and accountability frameworks that can also be adapted to local realities; and exploring approaches and conditions for effective scaling up.

Christopher Steward, OLAM, urged for valuation protocols and systems to enable industry to account for the natural and other forms of capital beyond the financial capital, for companies to move towards integrated reporting.

The ensuing discussion addressed, among other issues, the social impact and social responsibility of scientists, and noted that research needs to be significant, not simply relevant.


PANEL DISCUSSION ON KEY MESSAGES: Eva Müller, FAO, introduced a proposal for draft key messages of the conference, including that:

  • maintaining sufficient productive diverse and healthy forests is crucial for achieving the SDGs and climate and biodiversity targets;
  • halting deforestation and achieving SDG 15.2 can only be achieved through political will, individual motivation and concerted collective action, adequate governance frameworks and involvement of multiple actors;
  • awareness and knowledge on drivers of deforestation and multiple functions of forests need to be enhanced;
  • halting deforestation requires corporate responsibility of agribusiness, being supported by international trade instruments, and consumer education;
  • scaling up finance and investment requires positive incentives, improved legality, PPPs, innovative instruments and de-risking private sector investment;
  • country experiences and good practices creating win-win situations between forestry and agriculture need urgent upscaling;
  • a landscape approach can resolve land use competition between forest and agriculture;
  • there is an urgent need to promote sustainable use of forest products across the value chain;
  • incomes of small-scale farmers can be increased through diversified agricultural production systems;
  • the value of forest ecosystem services should include productivity and environmental values and be captured through simple and directs systems of PES; and
  • expanded research is needed to support the development of evidence-based policies.

Salina Abraham, IFSA, suggested emphasizing education, capacity building, youth involvement, and civil society’s role in forest protection.

Co-Chair Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, UNFF-13 Chair, said the proposed key messages are in the right direction and reflect the value of the UNSPF as an overall framework to address forests through cross-sectoral actions at all levels.

Cecile Ndjebet, African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests, suggested stressing the role of rural women and major groups in forest protection and including a gender-responsive enabling environment. Christopher Stewart, OLAM, stressed the need to send an inspiring message to business to create additional value through their activities.

Francois Pythoud, Switzerland, and Chair of the FAO Committee on Agriculture, supported by many, suggested emphasizing innovative elements, and shortening the number of key messages to four.

Other participants made suggestions for additions and revisions, including on: the urgency of addressing deforestation; focus on restoration; the contribution of indigenous and tribal peoples and traditional knowledge holders; triggers of transformational change; involvement of smallholders; focus on actionable recommendations to target groups, such as governments, the private sector, civil society, and the research community; making it clearer that forests contribute to achieving all SDGs; and the need for compliance and enforcement frameworks, including contribution of new technologies.

CO-CHAIRS’ SUMMARY: Plenary then addressed the Co-Chairs’ summary of the parallel thematic sessions. Some participants suggested focusing on action and implementation. Others suggested additions, including on: certification; action by governments to regulate agribusiness; the youth; the need for tenure reform; review of agricultural subsidies; forest-related education, vocational training and extension; results-based finance for REDD+ for financing sustainable landscape management; and the recognition of the services provided by forest stewards.

Co-Chairs Hiroto Mitsugi and Ikram Yaakob noted that the key messages and Co-Chairs’ summary will be revised and posted on the meeting website, before transmission to UNFF-13 and the 2018 session of HLPF. Maria Helena Semedo, FAO, stressed the need for few powerful messages. The meeting closed at 17:18 pm.


IPBES-6: The sixth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services will consider for approval four regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration.   dates: 17-24 March 2018   location: Medellin, Colombia   contact: IPBES Secretariat   phone: +49-228-815 0570  email: [email protected]  www:

International Day of Forests: The 2018 International Day of Forests will address the theme “Forests for sustainable cities,” and will focus on how forests and trees in urban areas regulate temperature and water flows, provide nutritious foods and shelter, cleanse the air, and foster community cohesion and individual well-being, among other benefits.   dates: 21 March 2018  location: worldwide  www:

48th Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies: The 48th sessions of the subsidiary bodies to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in April-May 2018.  dates: 30 April - 10 May 2018   location: Bonn, Germany  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: [email protected]  www:

UNFF-13: The 13th session of the UN Forum on Forests will address implementation of the Strategic Plan and the Quadrennial Programme of Work, and means of implementation for sustainable forest management.  dates: 7-11 May 2018   location: UN Headquarters, New York   contact: UNFF Secretariat  phone: +1-212-963-3401  fax: +1-917-367-3186  email: [email protected]  www:

CBD SBSTTA-22: The 22nd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity will address, inter alia: protected areas, marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change, and digital sequence information on genetic resources.  dates: 2-7 July 2018   location: Montreal, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email: [email protected]  www:

CBD SBI-2: The CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation will address, inter alia: review of progress in the implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan; biodiversity mainstreaming; resource mobilization; cooperation with other conventions; mechanisms for review of implementation; enhancing integration of Article 8(j) under the Convention and its Protocols; review of effectiveness of the processes under the CBD and its Protocols; and preparation for the follow up to the Strategic Plan.  dates: 9-13 July 2018   location: Montreal, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288- 6588  email: [email protected]  www:

HLPF 2018: The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will convene under the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.” It will review: SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), and SDG 15 (life on land), along with SDG 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development), which is considered each year.   dates: 9-18 July 2018  location: New York City, US  www:

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