In the News | Jan 26 2017

Africa’s forests, landscapes, and ecosystems have many contributions to development. They contribute directly to the well-being and food security of poor people. 

Press Release | Jan 12 2017

With support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Burkina Faso has been awarded a US $4-million loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Forest Investment Program (CIF FIP) to revive its cashew sector and mitigate climate change. 

Blogs | Dec 14 2016

I’m the Director of Financing within the National Forestry Commission of the Government of Mexico. The picture below is of where I was born, in a little town located in the mountains of Oaxaca. It was a great place to grow up and it was where I learned on a daily basis how important forests were to the livelihood of my community.

I was born in a little town in the mountains of Oaxaca, a great place to grow up

That is also a reality for many in Mexico, since 70 percent of our territory is covered in forests.  And 45 percent of this surface is owned by ejidos and communities, a Mexican particularity in terms of land ownership. This means almost 11 million people depend on  forests to live.

But we have a problem. On average, from 2010 to 2015, Mexico lost 92 thousand hectares of forests every year, and while it was 22 percent less than the previous period, we continue working to reduce that number.

Forests are a crucial part of an equitable and sustainable world, tackling climate change and enabling millions of men and women in rural communities to secure greater prosperity. They provide so many economic, social and environmental benefits and so far, have not been fully appreciated.

Forests can be engines of economic growth, energy generation and food security. They help purify water and maintain water resources. One quote that has stayed with me throughout my efforts in the forestry sector is this: “When forests do not have a high enough financial value or an opportunity cost satisfactory to producers, they tend to disappear”.

What does this mean for policy makers? Simple - any transformational change and policy strategy must aim to slow deforestation and forest degradation.  It must also help improve economic opportunities.

We live in a moment of such importance for the planet.  Climate change is an ever-present threat, and it is our duty to ensure that the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals are delivered.  Unless we pay attention to forests, this will be very difficult to achieve.

Stopping deforestation can reduce as much as 19 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Up to another 10 percent of emissions could be sucked out of the atmosphere by re-growing forests which have been cut down.  That’s because forests act as a sink, soaking up carbon emissions which would otherwise pollute the atmosphere. 

Sustainable forest management has been on the political agenda since 1992’s Rio Earth Summit and there’s been a decade of dialogue at the UNFCCC. There has been lots of progress in the past two years, which helped build momentum towards the inclusion of something called REDD+ in the Paris agreement.  REDD stands for:

  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
  • Conservation of forest carbon stocks
  • Sustainable forest management
  • And enhancement of forest carbon stocks. 

Essentially, this provides financial incentives for developing countries to better protect, manage and sustainably use their forest resources.  In so doing, they help conserve biodiversity and tackle climate change. That's important because 75 percent of the world’s poor are rural and depend on healthy landscapes for their livelihoods, food security and development opportunities. 

In remote rural areas, forests are often the main resource on which to build an economy and can provide a safety net in times of extreme hardship, such as when droughts hit. Forests are especially important for the Indigenous Peoples who live in them. When we lose forests, we aggravate climate change, and Indigenous Peoples and rural communities lose their greatest source of livelihoods, tearing their social and cultural fabric apart.

That’s why the CIF has been focusing on forests since inception.  The CIF's Forest Investment Program has grown from 8 countries to 14, making it an even more informed group of actors with diverse constituencies and experiences we can draw, share and learn from. 

The Government of Mexico is deeply committed to contributing to the international agenda on environment and sustainable development. Our National Development Plan includes a National Forestry Program.  This has the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable economic growth that preserves the natural resources and environmental services that are crucial to our well-being.

REDD+ in Mexico is based on sustainable rural development. It implies that all sector related to forests must coordinate their activities to achieve an integrated land management.

And there's some good news on that: at the biannual UN meetings on biodiversity recently held in Cancun, our Minister of Environment and Minister of Agriculture signed an agreement to work even more closely together in order to preserve forests and limit land use change for agriculture.  This matters because agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation.  

Having this approach in mind, we are implementing very innovative schemes under the Forest Investment Program. Initial financing of $60 million has leveraged almost $700 additional million from national and international sources.  About $350 million of this comes from the World Bank. 

In the past 12 months, the World Bank and the FIP have been working with Mexico and contributing to improve the livelihoods of about 3,000 forest communities around the country through sustainable management of forestry goods and services. Approximately 88 percent of funding goes directly to small scale projects proposed, prepared, and implemented by ejidos and communities.

Also, working with the Inter-American Development Bank, we are looking to address the lack of access to finance of ejidos and communities, by helping them create financially and environmentally sustainable business in forest landscapes. Our investment plan is expected to transform and increase financing for low carbon sustainable projects through concessional loans, guarantee funds and technical assistance.

I can tell you one thing: the forest sector is a complex one, because of the diverse actors operating in it and their particular interests. And it is this diversity, the coordination amongst them, and the lessons we have learned by working together, that has helped to change the way the forest sector is regarded, as:

  • An attractive sector for investments,
  • A vital alternative for climate change mitigation,
  • And for the people who live in it, a steady income source.

We have more work to do.  And it is more important than ever to have allies in every sector and every level of society, locally and globally, that help us spread the word on the real value of forests. I echo the thoughts of Mafalda Duarte, Manager of the CIF. See what she had to say about forests.

The bottom line? Forests are the heart and lungs of the world.  Let’s work together to keep them active, breathing and keeping the planet and its people healthy. 

In the News | Dec 12 2016

As the world moves into an era above the ominous 400 parts per million carbon dioxide threshold, carbon storage and reforestation are becoming even more significant.

Press Release | Sep 26 2016

Ghana received approval on Thursday, September 22, 2016 from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a project to restore degraded forest reserves and double a sustainable forest plantation through a first-of-its-kind Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in its forest sector. The project is backed by a US $10-million concessional loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Forest Investment Program (CIF FIP) approved on July 1, and supplemented by US $14 million in co-financing from the AfDB. 

Blogs | Jul 20 2016

As we got out of the car and started walking to a cocoa farm in Ghana’s Western Region, I was happy to see some female cocoa farmers welcoming us. What a pleasant surprise! Knowing that it is not easy for women in West Africa to own or access productive land for their own use, I was very glad to see that the Forest Investment Program – FIP – is directly benefiting them.

Typically, women in West Africa have use rights to land through their husbands, fathers or brothers[1]. In Ghana, most land and/or home-owning households in Ghana have their land and houses in the men’s name only.[2]

The FIP, together with Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the national Cocoa Board and other agencies, is helping reverse this imbalance for female cocoa farmers. The FIP is investing in Climate Smart Cocoa, which focuses on planting shade trees in cocoa farms (see this blog post about Climate Smart Cocoa in Ghana). 

When asked about shade trees and the tree tenure system in cocoa farms,
female farmers said that they now have hope

The FIP, through Ghana’s Forestry Commission, gives shade tree seedlings at no cost to cocoa farmers. Some of the species of indigenous trees used are: Terminalia Superba, Terminalia Ivorensis, African Mahogany (Khaya Ivorensis). 

With the new tree tenure policies introduced by the FIP, male and female cocoa farmers can now register each individual shade tree under their name. By doing this, they are securing the ownership and rights of each tree and reducing gender-based social and economic exclusion. Each shade tree represents a high value timber asset for cocoa farmers, which they can liquidate once maturity is reached.

The FIP also strengthens more inclusive tree tenure arrangements by supporting expanded participation of women in local forest governance, for example Community Forest Committees. Such multi-pronged efforts are at the heart of the upcoming CIF Gender Action Plan – Phase 2, in support of all of CIF’s climate mitigation and adaptation investments.   

A nursery of shade tree of seedlings

In addition to the economic benefits of the shade trees, Climate Smart Cocoa practices offer improved yields, and greater protection against capsid attacks on cocoa trees, which implies reduced use of pesticide. Other benefits include better soil protection and enhanced biodiversity in cocoa farms.

When asked about shade trees and the tree tenure system in cocoa farms, female farmers said that they now have hope. With better cocoa yields, and the secure asset of shade trees, female farmers can plan for a better future for them and their families.  

___

FOOTNOTES

[1] Rünger, M. 2006. Governance, Land Rights and Access to Land in Ghana – A Development Perspective on Gender Equity. Paper presented at the 5th FIG Regional Conference, Promoting Land Administration and Good Governance, Accra, Ghana, 8-11 March 2006

[2] Oduro, A. D., W. Baah-Boateng, and L. Boakye-Yiadom. 2011. Measuring the Gender Asset Gap in Ghana. Research Report, University of Ghana.

Blogs | Aug 04 2015

A couple days ago, some friends asked me about my recent trip to Democratic Republic of Congo for the Forest Investment Program (FIP). I enthused about the forest investment projects I visited, the dedicated colleagues I met, and the value of monitoring and reporting or “M&R.” Pardon? Come again? M&R? Clearly, I had lost my friends.  

So, what is M&R and why is it so important to development projects like those supported by the FIP? I had to answer quickly. I told them about this cartoon, which I find very descriptive of what could happen without proper M&R in project management. 

M&E cartoon

Source: IFRC ME guide

Imagine sailing down a river without paying attention to where you are going. If you are not actively navigating your vessel (checking your progress toward your destination) and simply going with the flow, you may run into troubled waters like these two. The same thing happens with project monitoring. If we monitor the project’s progress, we can know if we are achieving the expected results and whether we are on track for project success or not. My friends started to understand.

A well-functioning M&R system is a critical part of good project and program management and accountability.  It provides evidence on the progress of the project. It generates reports, which ensure transparency and accountability, and allows for lessons to be shared. Furthermore, it reveals when the project is not on track to achieve its expected outputs or results, while offering paths for learning and improvements. It is a powerful tool for evidence-based decision making. M&R is a robust tool for raising funds and influencing policy.

M&R is at the core of the FIP, and this year marks the first time that pilot countries have submitted progress reports on achievements of their investment plans. To gear up for this reporting, the CIF has held M&R training workshops in FIP countries worldwide, including one in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

A large group of the stakeholders attended the two-day workshop in Kinshasa. Participants learned how to use the FIP monitoring and reporting toolkit. They learned how to establish baselines and targets for the common themes, established scoring criteria for other relevant co-benefit themes and discussed how to formulate the texts for the elements for narrative. Essentially, stakeholders learned how to work together to “steer their ship” through the sometimes tumultuous waters of project implementation into which the DRC will enter in earnest in 2016. All participants confirmed that the training workshop will be very valuable for the DRC’s FIP results reporting.