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The lessons of COVID-19: facilitation for sustainability

The lessons of COVID-19: facilitation for sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the environment. As resources for forest management decline, risks of criminal activity such as illegal logging have escalated. At the same time, many cooperation projects aimed at reducing deforestation or improving biodiversity conservation have suffered delays and breaks in their activities.

For those working on environmental solutions – including the EU REDD Facility – the pandemic has required creativity and resourcefulness. Not only must workflows be maintained while at a distance, but tangible results need to be generated for those who were vulnerable even before the pandemic.

In a new blog, REDD expert Frédéric Baron shares lessons from Colombia, Ecuador and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), making the case that “now more than ever we see the need for well-informed and open dialogue, and processes for facilitation”.

Facilitators and facilitation skills are necessary for achieving sustainable development goals and Nationally Determined Contributions targets, says Baron. “With or without a pandemic, environmental and social challenges cannot wait until ‘normality’ returns.”

For support to Colombia, Ecuador and the DRC in 2021, the EU REDD Facility has opted to increase the facilitation component of its work. Information is shared to generate common knowledge, and then to identify potential solutions for improving governance and sustainability of land use.

The overarching lesson of the past 18 months has been that negotiations, dialogue, and consensus can be achieved if a facilitating third party ensures a first layer of knowledge and understanding, says Baron. “It does not mean that the way towards a final agreement will be easy, but certainly easier and possible.”