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Entries with tag ndcs .

The EU REDD Facility’s 10 lessons for ending tropical deforestation

By Christophe Van Orshoven


Since its inception a decade ago, the EU REDD Facility’s ambition has been to support dialogue and partnership between state and non-state actors to strengthen efforts to ensure tropical forests meet their potential to limit climate change.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Facility, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on lessons learned over these years, as we worked towards empowering stakeholders to strengthen the rule of law, promoting sustainable land use and investment, and enhancing supply chain transparency.

It’s fitting that we share these insights as the 14th edition of the EU Development Days on the Green Deal for a Sustainable Future gets underway. The EU has a strong track record of global leadership in dealing with deforestation and forest degradation, and the European Green Deal commits to measures to support deforestation-free value chains. Our work is aligned with this ambitious response to the continued widespread destruction of the world's forests.

Significant progress has been made over the past few years towards ending deforestation and understanding the drivers and solutions to this complex problem. Yet governments, the private sector and citizens all over the world need to urgently step up action to protect and restore the world’s forests. We hope that the lessons we have learned over the past decade help to shape and accelerate future action: Ending tropical deforestation: 10 lessons for laying the foundations

1. There must be clear and well-enforced legal frameworks for land use.

Unclear legal frameworks — and a lack of implementation and compliance with these frameworks — often lead to illegal land allocation and forest conversion, including for the expansion of commercial agriculture. Giving forest and agriculture sector actors incentives to comply with the law strengthens efforts to make commodity production and trade deforestation-free. It also promotes better land-use governance and helps achieve climate targets.

2. Participatory and informed land-use planning is key to reduce land conflicts and deforestation.

Inclusion and collaboration are important for designing and implementing land-use plans. If all stakeholders at different levels – including local communities and organisations – are involved in important official decisions about land use, there is more compliance with land laws, and more sustainable outcomes are achieved for everyone.

3. Partnership approaches build an enabling environment for sustainable land-use.

Clarifying definitions and responsibilities, sharing credible information for decision-makers, and fostering trust between partners builds transparency and accountability in the forest and land-use sectors. These efforts build an enabling environment for forest-friendly development and investment, and help countries put their climate change targets into action.

4. Open, reliable information on global forest-risk commodity supply chains is needed to build trust on both sides of the trade. 

The complexity and opacity of global supply chains has made it difficult to tackle deforestation in mainstream markets. For most commodities with deforestation risks, there’s simply no information to support action and policy implementation. Improving supply-chain transparency helps to hold global supply chain players – including producing and consuming governments – accountable to their commitments to deal with deforestation and risks linked to products in their supply chains.

5. Consensus on definitions and data is needed to track progress towards sustainability.

Agreed sustainability definitions and monitoring systems help authorities improve their governance of land and forests. By developing these indicators through multistakeholder consultation, trust and legitimacy are entrenched. Using simple and objective ways to verify sustainability performance, grounded in national laws and regulations, is a mutually beneficial approach for producer and consumer countries.

6. Nationally Determined Contributions offer opportunities raise the profile of forest and land-use governance.

The majority of tropical countries have integrated forests and agriculture into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Robust and participatory NDC processes offer opportunities to address the drivers of deforestation by combining climate, aid and trade-related interventions, and raising the profile of forest and land use governance. Failing to address underlying governance drivers of deforestation puts the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change at risk.

7. Community forestry can improve livelihoods and achieve climate commitments.

Communities protect, manage, and use their forests in many ways. Some rely on logging and the timber trade to make a living. This trade needs to be economically viable and support livelihoods, while at the same time supporting sustainable management and protecting against deforestation. Legal timber production can unlock livelihood opportunities for vulnerable groups, while also reducing illegality, deforestation, and forest degradation.

8. Tracking investments in land-use helps to deploy resources for supporting forest and climate objectives.

Tropical forest countries can get valuable support from international public finance sources to help achieve their climate and forest goals, but these funds can’t meet the scale of investment needed. By presenting a transparent analysis of land-use investments and plans to improve the coherence of forest and climate-friendly spending, countries can attract private finance and make the case for more international support. There are opportunities to redirect the hundreds of billions spent annually on land-use activities around the world towards low emissions, without sacrificing productivity or economic development.

9. Socio-economic factors driving smallholder land-use decisions must be considered.

Smallholder farmers are central to the transition towards sustainable production, but they can’t invest in sustainable practices when they live in poverty and have limited access to finance. For change to happen at scale, initiatives offering financial incentives to smallholders must not only support the initial costs of agroforestry and replantation, but also provide opportunities to diversify their incomes. Understanding the economy of smallholders and the potential profitability of new production models is a prerequisite for transitioning towards more sustainable land-use practices.

10. Commodity and trade approaches provide a powerful lever for governance reform.

To address forest and land-use governance challenges, it’s useful to look to commodity and trade approaches like the EU’s Voluntary Partnership Agreements. There are lessons from the timber sector for creating the basis for zero-deforestation production and related trade. It’s essential to capitalise on initiatives that are effectively bringing visibility, support and competence to forest and land-use governance.

In the years ahead, we’ll continue to support countries to find innovative approaches and solutions to their land-use governance and development goals, and to find opportunities for dialogue and partnership. We look forward to sharing new lessons along this journey.
 

 


Christophe Van Orshoven

Team leader

EU REDD Facility

 

Taking stock of national climate plans: what’s in it for forests?

By Alice Bisiaux


In the lead up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, each country was asked to outline its post-2020 climate plans, known as their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Taken collectively, the initial plans put forward by countries did not go far enough to reach the Agreement’s goal: to limit global average temperature rise to “well below” 2 ºC above pre-industrial levels, and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 ºC.

However, the Paris Agreement gives countries the opportunity to increase their climate ambition, by updating their NDCs every five years. It’s now time to take stock: have countries’ revised climate plans matched the increase in ambition needed to effectively address climate change?
 

Nature-based solutions as an opportunity for raising climate ambition 

For countries updating their plans to take more ambitious action on climate change, nature-based solutions offer essential tools and opportunities. Conserving, restoring and improving management of forests, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural lands can deliver a third of cuts in emissions needed by 2030 to help keep warming below 2 °C. These nature-based solutions also help countries and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A large majority of the first round of NDCs included nature-based solutions in one form or another, but overall, these pledges were not quantified and did not outline coherent strategies for achieving them. Moreover, most didn’t consider the forest and land-use governance reforms that are essential to their implementation. The NDC revision process therefore provided an opportunity to strengthen the role of these natural solutions.

The EU REDD Facility has assessed the revised NDCs of several of its partner countries, and that of Brazil. Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia are home to four of the top five largest remaining tropical forests. Looking at these countries as well as Cameroon, Ghana, Laos, Liberia, the Republic of the Congo (RoC), Thailand and Vietnam, a very mixed picture emerges in terms of increased ambition generally, and of the treatment of nature-based solutions in particular. 


Colombia’s updated NDC is one of the most ambitious of Latin America, it is 6–22% stronger than the first NDC. It includes agricultural sector mitigation targets on coffee by Jess Kraft
 

Have countries ramped up their climate ambition?

On overall pledges to reduce emissions, the glass is half full. Some countries have ramped up ambition in varying degrees, such as Colombia, Cameroon, DRC, Laos or Vietnam. Others, such as Ghana, Indonesia or Thailand, have resubmitted their 2015 pledges, while RoC has reduced its mitigation ambition.

In terms of NDC scope, the revision process has led most countries, apart from Thailand and Ghana, to cover more sectors and greenhouse gases than in their initial contributions. For example, Liberia’s revised NDC covers emissions from the forest sector, which were excluded in its first NDC.
 

A missed opportunity for the forest and land-use sector

In their revised NDCs, countries have an opportunity to be clearer and more specific by adopting measurable targets and explaining how they were calculated. To help determine how they can be supported to achieve their climate targets, they can also be clearer about their financial needs. On these aspects, overall, the revised climate plans we analysed made progress. For example, Colombia, Liberia and Vietnam, which had not provided cost estimates in their first NDCs, did so in their revised submissions. Cameroon, Colombia and DRC also detailed the emission estimates for each sector and planned activity.

More countries have included an overall target for the agriculture, forest and land sector in their revised NDCs, including Colombia and Liberia. All countries assessed, other than Thailand, put forward at least one quantified target related to this sector: 

  • All countries but Cameroon, Thailand and DRC have reduced deforestation targets. 
  • Cameroon, Colombia, Liberia, Thailand, Laos, RoC, DRC and Indonesia mention restoration efforts.
  • Laos and Vietnam have quantified forest cover targets.
  • Cameroon, Colombia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Liberia and DRC refer to protected areas.

Nonetheless, numerous forest-related targets are still unquantified. This is a missed opportunity to enhance understanding towards countries’ commitments, raise the profile of the agriculture, forest and land sector and attract more public and private support.
 

Giving forest governance efforts the place they deserve

Overall, forest governance is still insufficiently addressed in the revised NDCs. Few mention participatory processes, indigenous and local communities’ rights, land tenure or forest monitoring efforts. And when governance issues are mentioned, they are often not adequately articulated to ensure they will be integrated into the NDC’s implementation:

  • Conflicting interests and competition over land and resources have been major driving forces of deforestation, forest degradation, soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. However, only Cameroon, Colombia, Laos, Liberia and Indonesia make reference to land-use planning efforts. 
  • While Cameroon, Colombia, RoC, DRC and Liberia refer to gender, Colombia, and to some extent, Cameroon, are the only countries to detail how such considerations will be taken into account in implementation.   
  • Nine of the ten countries analysed are either negotiating or implementing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) with the EU. But DRC is the only country to refer to the gains achieved through its VPA negotiation. 
  • All countries but Cameroon and Thailand mention REDD+. However, often, these are general mentions and the link with the implementation of the national REDD+ strategy is not clearly articulated.


The revised NDC of Vietnam includes the objective of protecting, conserving and sustainably using forests and forest land to increase carbon sequestration and forest certification by Robin Kay
 

Considering deforestation drivers and trade-offs among sectors

Most deforestation drivers, such as agricultural expansion, mining or the collection of fuelwood, come from outside the forest sector. A number of revised NDCs address them:

  • Cameroon, Colombia, Ghana, Laos, Liberia and DRC mention efficient cookstoves or efficient charcoal/clean cooking technology. 
  • Liberia includes the goal to implement a net-zero deforestation mining policy by 2030. 
  • Many countries refer to climate-smart agriculture, increased productivity and agroforestry.

However, only Colombia, Liberia and DRC clearly draw links among sectors.

Other countries, such as Laos and Indonesia, present renewable energy targets that rely heavily on biomass or hydropower, which carry the risk of driving deforestation. These countries do not analyse the potential impact of these energy or agricultural targets on achieving their forest and land-use objectives.

The small number of countries that analyse the trade-offs across sectors of their NDC pledges illustrates that inter-ministerial coordination is still often lagging.

Liberia is one of the few countries that mentions the creation of an inter-ministerial task force on land-use planning to ensure coherence in NDC implementation. However, this task force does not include the energy and mining sector stakeholders, although mining and charcoal and biofuels production could have significant impacts on the forest emissions of this country. RoC also envisages the creation of an institutional mechanism to ensure inter-ministerial coordination. However, its articulation with the existing relevant coordination mechanisms in the country is unclear.
 

Revised NDCs as strategic planning documents

Overall, many of the revised NDCs analysed do not read like strategic documents integrating existing and planned national policies. For example, revised NDCs should draw linkages with the SDGs to ensure and assess the alignment and integration of climate-related policies and measures with development needs and strategies. The alignment of these two agendas, as well as with other relevant processes, such as national adaptation plans or FLEGT processes, is imperative to increase efficiency and maximise resources, technical capacity and expertise sharing. While more countries have drawn links with the SDGs in their revised NDCs, in many cases, such as in Liberia, Ghana or RoC, only general references to the SDGs are made, without specific information on how synergies and coordination will be ensured.
 

Paving the way to partnerships

Achieving the objective of the Paris Agreement will depend on countries’ ability to turn their climate plans into action and work towards more ambition. By enhancing the forest sector components of their NDCs, Colombia, DRC, Liberia and Laos have paved the way to achieving their mitigation and adaptation goals. They have also raised the profile of the forest sector to attract the required investments and support to implement nature-based solutions. The increased granularity and ambition contained in these NDCs can provide the basis for future partnerships with national and international stakeholders to design and implement effective agricultural, forest and land sector policies. More countries would do well to follow suit.


Alice Bisiaux

Legal expert

EU REDD Facility

 

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the EU REDD Facility, or other contributors to this site.