Integrating forests into the post-2015 development framework

November 2013 - December 2014

This IIED project aimed to install forest-related targets and indicators into the post-2015 development framework, contributing towards notional goal areas on poverty reduction and equality, economic growth and employment, food security, water and energy, climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Two forest farmers from Ghana, including the head of a local community forest group, alongside some cocoa beans (Photo: Duncan Macqueen/IIED)

The project helped to demonstrate and develop understanding of how trees and forests can be best incorporated in the post-2015 framework, and how that can stimulate action.

SDGs need forests, and forests need SDGs

Forests and trees are rooted in life and livelihoods. They can be grown, improved and looked after – they are renewable. It would be hard to find a simpler and more universal way of changing the world for the better than by planting and managing trees.

Yet there was limited achievement towards Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 on environmental sustainability, which led to a high level of uncertainty about how natural resource and climate change issues would be incorporated into the post-2015 development framework. 

IIED recognised the opportunity for influencing the negotiation of this framework and ensuring the full integration of the benefits of trees and forests in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – desirable in light of their potential to provide social and cultural benefits; improve resilience and ecosystem services; enhance productive capacity; and contribute towards a green economy. At the same time, a well-structured SDG framework would provide the enabling environment for equitable and sustainable forest management.

What did IIED do?

We gathered evidence and enabled dialogue with key constituencies in Africa, Asia and Latin America on how best to frame the inclusion of forests in the post-2015 framework. This work enabled the diversity of priorities and perspectives to be better understood, especially those of lesser-heard voices, including least developed countries (LDCs) and marginalised groups.

Consultative events and direct engagement with negotiators and other policymakers ensured the project achieved wide geographic representation, with direct engagement totalling 36 countries, and diverse perspectives on the inclusion of forests in the SDGs.

However, the focus was not only on the appropriate inclusion of forests within the goal/target framework, but also enabling dialogue and wielding evidence with respect to issues of subsequent implementation.

This included an assessment of the SDG framework against the core concepts of sustainable development and known pillars of inclusive and sustainable forest management, which enabled us to explore credible metrics and other incentives for investment. Ultimately, this work led towards creating forest-specific SDG implementation guidance. 

Our engagement strategy involved desk-based synthesis, online communications, face-to-face discussions with key stakeholders in numerous in-country and international forums, and targeted briefings and advocacy work with framework negotiators.

In November 2014, IIED co-organised a workshop in Lima, Peru with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Universidad Científica del Sur and Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); the event was was inaugurated by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peruvian Minister of State for Environment and President of the COP20. 

The workshop brought together 36 forestry experts from 12 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The group developed a modular approach to SDG implementation that involved bringing stakeholders together (at global, regional, national or sub-national levels) to build 'SDG modules' for the policy areas of each ministry, agency or equivalent institution. For more information, read the briefing on 'Integrated approaches to SDG implementation and indicators: focus on forests'.


Enabling forests to score sustainable development goals – the Lima international workshop outcome document, Jonathan Reeves, Simon Milledge, Geraldine Warren (2015), IIED Event Report | Español

Sustainable Development Goals and forests, a summary of UNECE engagement and perspectives, Simon Milledge (2015), Report

Habilitación bosques para anotar metas de desarrollo sostenible, documento final taller internacional de Lima, Jonathan Reeves, Simon Milledge, Geraldine Warren (2015), Report

Sustainable Development Goals: a forest module for a transformative agenda, Simon Milledge, Duncan Macqueen, Jonathan Reeves, James Mayers (2014), IIED Briefing Paper

Progress with integrating forests in the SDGs: reflections on the outcome document of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs, Simon Milledge (2014), Report

Sustainable Development Goals and forests: a summary of UN Open Working Group debates and country reflections, Duncan Brack (2014), Report

Sustainable Development Goals and forests: integrating perspectives, priorities and experience from Asia, Richard McNally (2014), Report

Sustainable Development Goals and forests: Integrating perspectives, priorities and experience from Latin America and the Caribbean, Isabel Pasos (2014), Report

Sustainable Development Goals and forests: integrating perspectives, priorities and experience from Africa, Mariteuw Chimère Diaw (2014), Report

SDGs from a forest perspective: Transformative, universal and integrated?, Duncan Macqueen, Simon Milledge, Jonathan Reeves (2014) IIED Discussion Paper

Additional resources

Forests in the sustainable development goals, article by James Mayers for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development 

UNECE/FAO workshop report: Target the forests! A view from Europe (PDF)

Review: Independent Research Forum paper (PDF)

Was this page useful to you?

Thank you for your feedback.