IIED at the XIV World Forestry Congress


IIED and its partners were at this year's World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, from 7-11 September 2015.

A forest ranger takes measurements of a tree at Megeni Kitasha in the Rombo District in Moshi, Tanzania (Photo: FAO/Simon Maina)

The XIV World Forestry Congress, hosted by South Africa, and the first to take place in the continent, brought together the global forestry community to review and analyse the key issues and to share ways of addressing them.

The theme for the conference, in Durban, was 'Forests and people: investing in a sustainable future'.

Congress objectives

The congress aimed to:

  • Clarify why it is so important to recognise forests and forestry as an integral part of sustainable development – from local to national and international
  • Identify, analyse and raise awareness of the major issues facing the sector, and propose new forms of technical, scientific and policy actions that will result in forests' greater sustainability by linking sound policy to feasible practice
  • Serve as a key venue in 2015 for the world's foresters – from decision-makers to local practitioners as well as partners from other sectors – to share their knowledge and latest findings, in a forum that will allow for challenging, constructive and sometimes controversial debate, the exchange of experience and views, and the fostering of collaborative partnerships and networks
  • Provide a global showcase for the latest developments and innovations in forests and forestry, using multi-media learning platforms to illustrate their practical applications and linkages, and
  • Ensure that critical issues are visibly addressed and that all key stakeholders, including young people, women, indigenous people and local communities, are given a platform where the voice of the constituencies they represent will be heard.

The work of IIED

Members of IIED's Natural Resources Group and their research partners attended the congress, and played a key role in a number of events and activities, as detailed below.

IIED and partner events

Democratising forest business: investing in successful locally controlled forest business models 

Date: Monday, 7 September
Convening organisations: IIED, The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC), Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) hosted by FAO, Tropenbos International, Non-Timber Forest Product Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP), African Forest Enterprise Knowledge Network (AFEKON) and Reflorestamos Mexico

This multi-institutional event showcased democratic locally controlled forest business models that are emerging in many countries to reduce deforestation and improve livelihoods. It explored what factors underlie their success and how to scale up. Three presenters illustrated successful business models from three different country contexts. Those cases form part of a compendium of 19 case studies from across the world that will be launched. A short film preceded a panel discussion led by Forest Connect alliance members (an alliance in support of locally controlled forest farm enterprises that embraces more than 1000 members from 94 countries).

Related reading: Prioritising support for locally controlled forest enterprises | Organisation for locally controlled forest business – learning from success: proceedings of the fourth international Forest Connect workshop

Invest in us: forest smallholders, community forest members and indigenous peoples in Asia

Date: Tuesday, 8 September
Convening organisations: The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC), ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC), Community-based Forestry Supporter's Network Nepal (COFSUN), The Center for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas (CSDM), The Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), Forest and Farm, Facility (FFF), Global Alliance of Community Forestry (GACF), Himalayanan Grassroots Women's Natural Resource Management Association (HIMAWANTI) IIED, NTFP-EP, Pan European Forest Council (PEFC), The Nature Conservancy and Rights and Resources Initiative (TBC)

Representatives including community forest members, smallholders and indigenous peoples from Asia and the Pacific region presented messages and calls to action on how to ensure that they are allowed to manage their forests in a sustainable manner. 

The presentation were developed through a participatory process before the congress that included a regional forum in Bangkok in July. It was developed together with an internationally acclaimed Thai multimedia performance artist, using photography, video, stage props and music to emphasise the legitimacy and urgency of the issues being conveyed. There was also a Q&A with a panel including the rights-holder representatives and community forestry experts from the region.

Related reading: Investing in local communities for sustainable forests

Landscapes and livelihoods: forest and farm producer organisations sharing their stories

Date: Tuesday, 8 September
Convening organisations: Tropenbos International, European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN), International Family Forestry Alliance (IFFA) Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), IIED, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC)

This side event allowed forest and farm producer organisations (FFPOs) to share how they have become stronger, and what lessons we can learn regarding the challenges, successes, initiatives, policies and strategies that have helped them more effective. More than 12 of the 30 organisations contributing to ETFRN News 57 participated. The best of the 30 stories in ETFRN News were told by the FFPOs themselves, and the rest were shared through personal interactions, slide hows and other media. 

Related reading: ETFRN News 56: towards productive landscapes

Developing benefit-sharing arrangements for REDD+

Date: Wednesday, 9 September
Convening organisations: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), IIED and the World Bank

This event brought together approaches to benefit sharing that are implemented in several initiatives aimed at addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It drew from work in Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Tanzania to highlight factors that underpin effective benefit sharing mechanisms.

In particular, we considered how property rights/tenure and the actors engaged in REDD+ interventions (private sector or NGOs) influence the distribution of benefits and functioning of benefit mechanisms. We also looked at the roles and incentives of external agents (primarily private actors) in supporting benefit sharing arrangements. The gender dimensions of benefits sharing mechanisms are also addressed. In addition, we offered a framework to assist countries in identifying and advancing the establishment and refinement of suitable benefit sharing mechanisms based on their country context.

Related reading: REDD+ for profit or for good? Review of private sector and NGO experience in REDD projects

China in Africa's forests – finding a green path to prosperity?

Date: Wednesday, 9 September
Convening organisations: IIED, World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF), Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), Reseau Ressources Naturelles (RRN), Advocates Coalition for Environment and Development (ACODE) and Centre for Environment and Development (CED)

The China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform is a partnership initiative, launched in 2013, aiming for more sustainable Chinese investment in Africa. The event reported on the findings of a event held in Cameroon in June and aims to identify: 1) status, trends, issues and impacts of China-linked enterprises and trade in the forest sector, agribusiness, infrastructure and mining in Mozambique, Cameroon, DRC, Uganda and others; 2) effective policy, investment frameworks, guidelines and cooperation initiatives influencing Chinese-linked investment in forestry, timber trade and other land uses; and 3) major challenges and ways forward for improving the sustainability and productivity of Chinese investments in African land use. The moderated panel discussion included speakers from NGOs, government and private sector agencies in both China and Africa.

Related reading: The dragon and the giraffe: China in African forests (French | Chinese)

Launching of the 'Regional report on the role of forests in a green economy transformation in Africa'

Date: Wednesday, 9 September
Convening organisations: United Nations Environment Programme, UN REDD Programme (UNEP) and IIED

This event launched the 'Regional report on the role of forests in a green economy transformation in Africa'. Working in close cooperation with IIIED, UNEP, through the UN REDD Programme, has conducted comprehensive research that: 1) looks at the economic rationale for linking REDD+ and forest management and utilisation to a broader transition to a green economy from the perspective of Africa's sustainable development priorities; 2) draws examples and trends on forest management and utilisation in a green economy; 3) identifies the challenges and opportunities for achieving these benefits at national/regional level; and 4) builds scenarios on the demand and supply trends in the region and management options. This provided the basis for a wider dialogue and outreach in the Africa region, linking forests investments such as REDD+ with poverty alleviation and national development efforts.