Improving evidence, capacity and joint action for sustainable Chinese investment in Africa's forests.
China's investment and trade in Africa's natural resource sectors have significant implications for Africa's forests. Many investments are in forested or woodland areas, some directly engage in logging and others, such as mining, infrastructure and agribusiness, affect forests and rural livelihoods.
By one estimate, 75 per cent of Africa's timber is exported to China. But despite the scale, we know little about the impacts. There is also a lack of dialogue between Chinese and African stakeholders to address emerging critical issues such as sustainable investments, illegal logging and rural livelihoods.
Through research, dialogue and joint action, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and its partners will contribute to improving forest governance, by promoting sustainable and pro-poor Chinese trade and investment in Africa's forests.
Our goal is to achieve improved policy and investment practice in China and Africa in ways that foster good stewardship of forest resources and benefit local communities.
Where and who?
Between 2014 and 2017, we will work in China and four African countries: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique and Uganda.
Each of these countries hosts important China-Africa sustainable development challenges. They are countries in which the scale of Chinese investment and trade in forest-related sectors is significant and, in the case of Cameroon and DRC, where there is ongoing timber legality work supported by the European Commission. IIED already has established strong partnership in these countries through several years of forest governance work with influential local partners.
Our main partners in China include Research Institute of Forestry Policy and Information at the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) and Global Environmental Institute (GEI).
Our lead African partners are: Centre for Environment and Development (Cameroon), Reseaux Ressources Naturelles (DRC), Terra Firma (Mozambique), Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (Uganda).
Internationally, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is a critical partner whose expertise in engaging with sustainable corporate practices is of great value.
What will IIED and partners do?
There are three ways that the project will build on the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform that IIED launched with partners in 2013:
- Generate evidence: With in-country partners, we aim to generate reliable knowledge about the current status and trends of China-linked investments in the forests in the four African countries – focusing on forestry, mining, agriculture and infrastructure. We will also analyse relevant laws and regulations, incentives for companies to operate sustainably and legally, and the impacts of China-linked investments and trade on rural livelihoods
- Strengthen capacity and dialogue: Without good dialogue in, and between, China and Africa, we cannot make real progress beyond the negative reporting by the media on China's investment in Africa. Therefore, this project will focus on building capacity among stakeholders – policymakers, private sector actors, researchers, practitioners and journalists – through national, regional and international dialogues, trainings and work exchanges
- Improve policy and investment practice: Through evidence, capacity building and dialogue, we aim to change specific policy and investment practices. Some of the ways that we aim to do this include:
- Helping Chinese investors adopt and monitor codes of practice
- Supporting companies to obtain verification of good legal practice, and
- Engaging with Chinese and African policymakers to change policies and investment and organisational practices to support resilient African land use and a sustainable China-Africa forest products trade.
China in Africa's forests, by James Mayers
- Why Africa’s forests are important for its people, the world and China (2016), Project material in English, French and Chinese
- China in Africa – a fast changing relationship, a brief update on the progress (2016), Project update in English, French and Chinese
- The dragon and the giraffe: China in African forests, James Mayers (2015), IIED Briefing
- Timber flow study: export/import discrepancy analysis, You Chang, Ren Peng (2015), Working Paper
- China-Africa Forest Governance Project, (September 2014), IIED Project profile (also available in French)
- China-Africa collaboration to improve forest governance, James Mayers and Xiaoxue Weng (2014), IIED Backgrounder
- Platform set for China-Africa forest governance action, James Mayers (2013), IIED Reflect and Act
- China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, report of an inception event and future agenda, Khanh Tran-Thanh, Lila Buckley and James Mayers (2013), IIED Event report
The following 2-page briefings summarise more detailed diagnostics on the status of, and issues in, Chinese investments in forest land in the project's four African countries, including a take on the forest governance issues from China's perspective.
- Cameroon - English, Chinese and French
- Democratic Republic of Congo - English, Chinese and French
- China - English, Chinese and French
- Uganda - English
- Mozambique - English, Chinese and French
Country work plans:
- Cameroon, draft October 2014
- China, draft October 2014
- DRC, draft October 2014
- Mozambique, draft September 2014
- Uganda, draft October 2014
This project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID)
Research Institute of Forestry Policy and Information at the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) (Chinese language site)
Centre for Environment and Development (Cameroon)
Terra Firma (Mozambique)