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Bibliothèque Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations

Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations

Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations

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Date of publication
Novembre 2020
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The report, “Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations,” shows that forests and trees support human well-being and are critical to end poverty. It finds that forest-poverty dynamics are affected by a range of social, economic, political, and environmental context factors, such as rural outmigration, gender norms, remittance flows, and elite capture. The report’s key messages are highlighted below. Forests and trees can help the poor face global changes such as climate change. Benefits from forests and trees to human well-being are unevenly distributed. Structural barriers prevent poor people from using forest and tree products to exit poverty. Inadequate land use policies may lead the poor to bear excessive costs. Policy and management measures that enable forests and trees to contribute to poverty alleviation must be tailored to each specific context. A Brief History of the Global Forest Expert Panels The GFEP initiative was established in April 2007, as a joint initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). Since then, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) has led and coordinated it. The GFEP initiative’s core activity is to prepare global reports and accompanying policy briefs that reflect state-of-the-art understanding of forest-related issues. The publications are prepared by thematic Expert Panels consisting of internationally recognized scientific experts in their fields selected by the IUFRO coordination team. The reports are peer reviewed and written in an accessible manner to reach policymakers, stakeholders, and the broader public. Each report is accompanied by a shorter policy brief summarizing key messages. The frequency of reports varies according to information needs and requests from intergovernmental processes. The UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework aims at restoring the productivity of degraded lands, improving the livelihoods of people, and reducing the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations (UNCCD, 2017). National Action Programmes are the key instruments for realising these goals, and parties to the Convention are requested to include measures in them to conserve natural resources, such as the sustainable management of forests (Wildburger, 2009). The UNCCD emphasises ‘land degradation neutrality’ as a pathway to sustainable development, within which forests (particularly forest restoration and rehabilitation) play a substantial role. All of these international commitments are interrelated and form an important basis for the SDGs and their implementation. The SDGs themselves are rooted in the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in the Millennium Declaration in 2000 as the international framework for development policy until 2015. Under this earlier agenda, countries committedto reduce extreme poverty and made major progress toward that goal. So far, the GFEP has completed six global reports. The 2009 report on “Adaptation of Forests and People to Climate Change” highlights that: climate change over the past half-century has already affected forest ecosystems; the impacts of climate change on forest goods and services will have far-reaching social and economic consequences for forest-dependent people, particularly the forest dependent poor; and to meet adaptation challenges, commitment to achieving sustainable forest management goals must be strengthened at both the international and national levels. The 2011 report on “Embracing Complexity: Meeting the Challenges of International Forest Governance” highlights that: international forest governance is complex and fragmented; and many critical forest problems are cross-sectoral and require synergistic approaches involving a wide range of policy instruments. The 2012 report on “Understanding Relationships Between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests, and People: the Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives” highlights: biodiversity as a key determinant of forests’ ability to effectively provide ecosystem services, notably carbon sequestration, and to remain resilient in the face of disturbances such as climate change; for effective REDD+ implementation, tenure and property rights, including rights of access, use, and ownership, must be clear; and a tension between national REDD+ efforts aimed at international standardization, the strengthening of national sovereignty, and efforts to empower local communities as key actors in REDD+. The 2015 report on “Forests, Trees, and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition” underscores that: forests and tree-based systems have played a major role throughout human history in supporting livelihoods as well as meeting the global population’s food security and nutritional needs; governance shifts to multi-sectoral and cross-scale governance present better prospects for integrating different interests and goals related to forest and food systems; and securing tenure and local control is essential for forests and food security. The 2016 report on “Illegal Logging and Related Timber Trade” highlights that: despite increasing international governance efforts, illegal forest activities remain pervasive; and cross-sectoral and integrated policies are needed to ensure effective governance responses since illegal forest activities are not merely the forest sector’s problem. The 2018 report on “Forest and Water on a Changing Planet” explains: the link between water and forests exists within a broader climate-forest-water-people system; forests, especially natural forests, contribute to the resilience of the water supply for humans; and any new institutional arrangement should be sensitive to distributional concerns, as well as to social and environmental justice and equity, particularly the rights of marginalized and vulnerable communities. In 2019, IUFRO initiated a new GFEP to carry out a comprehensive global assessment of available scientific information about the interactions between forests and poverty. Building on this, it sought to prepare a report to contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by highlighting the nexus between Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 (no poverty) and SDG 15 (life on land), as well as relevant links to other SDGs. The GFEP on Forests and Poverty was tasked with addressing, inter alia: the different dimensions of the relationship between forests, trees, and poverty, as well as the roles of forests and trees in poverty reduction; trade-offs between development for poverty reduction, and forest restoration, sustainable forest management, and forest conservation; and underlying conditions constraining the achievement of goals related to poverty alleviation and sustainable forest management, such as power asymmetries, corruption, lack of political will, and marginalization. A core group of 21 experts, supported by 22 additional experts, from different parts of the world and different scientific backgrounds worked together on this study for almost two years. Following a scoping meeting in Rome, Italy, in May 2019, the experts met three times. The first meeting took place in August 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, US, and the second in January 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya. The third meeting in April 2020 was originally supposed to take place in Vienna, Austria, but was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the first-ever virtual Panel meeting in the context of the GFEP initiative. The October 2020 official launch of the report, which this brief summarizes, was also conducted online. The launch of the report was timed in conjuncture with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October 2020.

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