Update 25 August, 2022: At this time, we have received sufficient applications for all countries listed below except Dominica. If you are an expert on Dominica's forest and governance landscape, please apply!

The Forest Declaration Assessment is seeking to contract country-level forest and climate experts to provide external, peer review for nine country-level assessments of progress. If you are an expert in the forest context for one or more of the following countries, we encourage you to apply!   

Reviewers should have expertise on the topics of forest finance, forest governance, sustainable production and development, and/or deforestation and restoration monitoring. We expect the reviews to take about two working days to complete, and the window for reviews is between August 22nd and September 9th.  Applications will be accepted until we find at least two reviewers for each country.

The scope of work is available here.

Please share the scope of work with experts in your network! These country-level assessments will inform the global assessment reports which will be published later this year. 

Countries and companies are increasingly making voluntary pledges to signal their intent to act on climate change. The last few years have seen a string of pledges in the area of forestry and land use, including forest protection, sustainable supply chains, the energy transition and climate finance. While these pledges play an important role in showcasing ambition, they must be followed by tangible actions to meet climate and forest protection targets. However, many of the recent forest-related pledges do not have built-in monitoring and reporting measures in place, making it difficult for policymakers and civil society to assess progress.

Without monitoring and reporting, pledges can quickly become empty promises.

Independent tracking mechanisms can help drive accountability on pledges and address the gaps between intent and action. Civil society and the research community are particularly well-placed to take the lead in tracking and assessing action and policy implementation. They are often at the forefront of local climate action and bring important community connections and perspectives on the ground-level of the consequences of inaction on the part of stakeholders in power.

The Forest Declaration Assessment is the most comprehensive civil society-led effort to assess collective progress toward 2030 forest goals.

Since the launch of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) in 2014 – the first high-level multi-stakeholder forest protection pledge – the Forest Declaration Assessment has tracked global forest action and developed a baseline for measuring progress toward the target of halting and reversing deforestation by 2030. This global initiative coordinated by Climate Focus, in partnership over 20 international partners with expertise in forest protection and action, has led to the publication of seven annual reports on the state of action to meet 2030 forest goals. Initially a tracking mechanism against the 10 goals of the NYDF, the assessment has evolved in response to the plethora of new forest pledges that emerged at COP26. Based on our extensive assessment experience and the expertise of our partners, we have updated how we will work moving forward to hold commitment-makers accountable to their voluntary pledges while supporting the speed of action we need to meet the 2030 target of halting and reversing deforestation.

A new forward-thinking approach to tracking action across key priority areas to end deforestation

The Forest Declaration Assessment will track progress towards forest goals including all major forest declarations, from the NYDF to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, and specific forests pledges like the Global Forest Finance Pledge. One of our biggest learnings from over seven years of conducting assessments, is that while it is important to review how far we have come, it is equally important to know how much further we have to go. The new assessment approach reflects this.

We have organized the Forest Declaration Assessment into four themes which highlight not only the key areas for performance but also the interconnectedness and influence of various stakeholders across sectors.

  1. First, we need strong targets to guide efforts.
    1. We track progress on ending deforestation and restoring degraded lands. What does the data show – are we slowing the rate of global deforestation? Are we on track to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030? How quickly do we need to shift the current trends to meet the 2030 targets? 
  2. Second, we need to transform global supply chains to become more sustainable.
    1. We assess the extent to which countries are successfully rejecting and overcoming trade-offs between economic growth and forests. Are governments and companies developing and implementing economic and social development trajectories that increase human prosperity while sustainably managing and conserving forests, both at home and abroad? 
  3. Third, we need to rethink finance, both in terms of where new funds are deployed and how existing funds can be redirected.
    1. Our assessment asks: how much money will it cost to protect, manage, and restore forests in line with the 2030 goals? How much of that “green” finance is being invested already? And how much existing finance is being invested in other sectors in ways that hinder progress in the forest sector? Under this theme, we assess how financial actors are taking responsibility for the impacts that their spending has on forests around the world. 
  4. Finally, we need inclusive decision-making and strong governance.
    1. We assess the legislative and policy frameworks in place to enable forest protection, sustainable management, and restoration; and the degree to which governments are successfully enforcing those policies and laws. This theme will also assess the extent to which citizens, and especially Indigenous Peoples and local communities, are empowered to participate in decision-making and exercise their rights to territory.  

The Assessment Framework approach is systematic, grounded in evidence and built on the knowledge and expertise of a wide network of partners, aiming to drive action.

The Forest Declaration Assessment was developed to enable decision makers, public or private, to identify key gaps across sectors, and to overcome challenges in addressing these gaps. To this end, the Framework uses three criteria to evaluate the extent of forest action:

This work is driven by a network of leading global and regional civil society and research organizations and the Forest Declaration Assessment Partners, including groups who work directly on forests or with forest communities, to generate insights, support implementation through research, as well as direct advocacy to stakeholders in adopting recommendations.

By combining data, expertise, and networks, the Forest Declaration Assessment helps drive progress at a country and regional level. 

This year, we will apply the new Assessment Framework in 15 major forest countries spanning four continents to assess actions taken by governments, companies, financial institutions, civil society, and Indigenous peoples and local communities to reach 2030 forest targets. In the future, we will gradually expand the dataset to include all major forest and consumer countries. Such a comprehensive and evidence-backed assessment of country-level progress will help national leaders identify policy areas requiring action, anticipated challenges, and potential solutions.

Recognizing the critical role played by civil society and research actors in providing relevant and up-to-date data, we are also piloting a bottom-up assessment process regionally in the Congo Basin, in direct collaboration with local networks and organizations. Congo Basin is a critical tropical carbon sink, and an important historically high-forest/low-deforestation (HFLD) area, characterized by significant private sector supply chains, forest finance, and conservation activities. This status is under threat, however, with growing signs of increasing pressure to Congo Basin forests. The regional assessment will identify research gaps, and advocate findings and potential solutions directly to government decision-makers, donors, and other key actors.

The Forest Declaration Assessment Partners have reflected on and adapted to the changing landscape of voluntary international forest pledges. The Assessment will continue to support accountability and drive progress toward 2030 forest goals by reporting on progress so far, highlighting where efforts may be falling short and commitments makers have failed to live up to promises; as well as by looking to the future, identifying barriers to progress and providing recommendations on overcoming those barriers.

At the end of the day, the Forest Declaration Assessment aims to offer an essential reality check for decision-makers, advocates, and other stakeholders by providing rigorous evidence-based stocktakes and recommendations for action that take into account the interconnected nature of forest action.

Photo credit: Donny Iqbal/CIFOR-ICRAF via Flickr

Today, a new briefing paper from the Forest Declaration Assessment was released confirming the important role Indigenous peoples and local communities play in combating climate change. According to researchers from World Resources Institute and Climate Focus, 2030 climate targets will be impossible to achieve without protecting and accounting for Indigenous and community lands.

The report focuses on the mitigation potential of Indigenous and community lands in four of the Amazon’s most forested countries: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. It has found that these lands are a hidden, undervalued, yet foundational component of countries’ efforts to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts in line with their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.  

"Peru would need to retire its entire vehicle fleet to compensate for losing just half of the sequestration services provided by Indigenous and local community held forests,” Darragh Conway, Lead Legal Consultant at the international climate think tank Climate Focus, said.

Without explicitly recognizing the risk to and outlining measures to protect these lands, drastic – and realistically impossible – actions in other sectors would have to be enacted to come close to matching the value of the mitigation services provided by IPLC lands.

Current NDCs fall short in establishing actions, targets, and policies relating to Indigenous and local community-managed lands. In many NDCs and national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, carbon sequestered by Indigenous lands and forests are not specifically accounted for, making these lands that have been quietly saving us from climate disaster invisible in national reports. Additionally, these lands are currently threatened by over-development, mining, and agri-business.

More and better data on the contribution of IPLC lands can support policymakers and Indigenous leaders in collectively defining the role Indigenous and local community-managed lands can play in national mitigation and adaptation strategies. To help address the data gap, this paper analyzed the balance of carbon that was emitted from and absorbed by forests between 2001 and 2020 in Indigenous lands compared to other lands.

The analysis in this paper was used to develop a set of actionable recommendations for governments in the four countries, many of which are also relevant to governments in other forest countries with significant Indigenous populations. Countries need to urgently implement measures to protect Indigenous Peoples and their lands from the violence and incursions they are facing, and to empower and respect Indigenous and local communities, or else they risk setting their climate change efforts back significantly – at least 20-30% in this analysis (not to mention other costs such as social harm and the loss of irreplaceable biodiversity).

Incorporating Indigenous peoples and local communities and their lands in NDCs and related processes is an important—and necessary—step toward realizing their potential in helping Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru meet their international climate commitments.

Read the briefing paper here - available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Finally, a shared 2030 target

After a year of delay, COP26 was finally held in Glasgow in November 2021. One of its early celebrated outcomes was the signing of the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use (GLD), which brought, for the first time, governments of forest heavy-hitters like Brazil, Russia, and China onboard to the goal of halting and reversing global deforestation. Within days of its launch, it had secured the endorsement of 141 countries, covering over 90% of the world’s forests.

The GLD was the culmination of over a decade of political momentum to embrace the 2030 target to halt deforestation and restore degraded lands. From the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Bonn Challenge in 2011, to the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) in 2014, to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement in 2015, the international community has awakened to the reality that our current approach to forest exploitation and management is not tenable if we want to secure a stable and livable climate.

Much of the media coverage of the GLD pointed out that the NYDF – the GLD’s most direct predecessor – failed to deliver on its 2020 targets of halving natural forest loss, restoring 150 million hectares of degraded land, and ending deforestation driven by agricultural commodity production. Adopted in 2014 at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit, the NYDF garnered endorsements from 41 national governments and over 160 other stakeholders – subnational governments, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, companies, and nongovernmental organizations – who all signed on to “strive to end natural forest loss” and restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The NYDF, with endorsers beyond national governments, remains the most comprehensive multistakeholder forest pledge in place.

The urgency is real, but so are the solutions

Since 2015, the NYDF Assessment Partners have conducted an annual assessment of global progress toward the ten goals of the NYDF and its 2020 and 2030 targets. We have found that the NYDF’s 2020 targets were not met. Some indicators are actually moving in the wrong direction: annual tree cover loss and gross emissions from humid tropical primary forests, for example, are both increasing. Recent data indicates that the world is not on a trajectory to meet the 2030 targets either.

It is now 2022, and we have only eight years to end and reverse deforestation. The urgency for climate action is unlike that which we have seen before – drought, floods, disease, and displacement are becoming all too commonplace. Still, the global community is not starting from scratch in its quest to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. The NYDF Assessment has amassed an important reservoir of knowledge on global progress and the barriers that stakeholders face in protecting and restoring forests. From ending agricultural commodity-driven deforestation, to increasing finance for forests, improving forest governance, promoting sustainable development, and setting and implementing ambitious national forest targets under the Paris Agreement, we have amassed a great deal of knowledge about what works, what doesn’t, and what remains to be done to turn the tide on deforestation.

We know that respecting Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ rights to their traditionally held and managed land pays climate dividends in securing and increasing carbon stored in forests. And we know that when government regulations and enforcement are combined with voluntary private sector initiatives, commodity-driven deforestation can be held in check, as has happened in Indonesia. On the flip side, we have seen that voluntary private sector initiatives can have unintended consequences – for example, the Amazon Soy Moratorium was wildly successful in reducing deforestation in the Amazon, only to drive a drastic uptick in the conversion of native deforestation in the Cerrado. Siloed approaches more often than not lead to leakage and failed efforts.

How far we've come, and how far we have to go

For the next four weeks, the NYDF Assessment will summarize progress made since 2014 against the NYDF goals. Taken together, these goal summaries provide a holistic overview of the state of play and key remaining challenges in protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing forests. The slide decks also serve as a baseline for assessing efforts from now until 2030 across the following four forest themes:

  1. Setting and achieving overarching targets to end deforestation and restore degraded lands (Goals 1 & 5).
  2. Taking action to ensure sustainable production and development (Goals 2, 3, and 4)
  3. Shifting and sourcing new finance for forests (Goals 8 & 9)
  4. Strengthening forest governance and empowering Indigenous Peoples and local communities (Goal 10)

These summaries provide a resource for those who want to learn how far we have come – and where we have stumbled – so that we can refine, improve, and accelerate our actions moving forward. They also provide a stark reality check for decision-makers who have offered a range of forest commitments in response to the growing urgency of the climate crisis, but who have been much slower to enact the necessary policies and invest the much-needed finances to shift our trajectory. The NYDF Assessment has and will continue to fill its essential role as a global accountability mechanism for forest pledges, and these summaries provide a baseline for our assessments through 2030.      

The majority of nations have declared the critical need to protect our forests as part of the heroic global effort to tackle climate change. We have a chance to capture this recent political momentum and finally turn the tide on deforestation.  We’re on our way, but we have a long way to go. First, let’s take a moment to review the lessons of the past – and then let’s get to the world we want together.

All four themes are now available to read and share.

- Theme 1 - overarching targets - is available here: Overarching targets (Goals 1 & 5)

- Theme 2 - sustainable production and development - is available here: Sustainable production and development (Goals 2, 3, & 4)

- Theme 3 - forest finance - is available here: Finance for forests (Goals 8 & 9)

- Theme 4 - forest governance - here: Strengthening forest governance and empowering Indigenous Peoples and local communities (Goal 10)

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash