The project 'Building global capacity to increase transparency in the forest sector (CBIT-Forest)' aims to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of developing countries to meet the enhanced transparency requirements of the Paris Agreement, responding to Article 13 and contributing to tackling climate change. The CBIT-forest project will be a unique opportunity for countries to learn about the ETF and the importance of national forest monitoring systems. This two year project will build on earlier lessons-learned from countries for instance under REDD+ and will explore how to best implement the enhanced transparency framework in the transition period up until 2024.

Interview with Rocio Condor-Golec, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Can you give us a bit of background about the CBIT-Forest project?

The main objective of the CBIT-Forest global project is to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of developing countries to collect, analyze and disseminate forest-related data. It will support countries in meeting the enhanced transparency framework (ETF) requirements of the Paris Agreement and contribute with information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving the nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The FAO Forestry Department will implement the project, through its Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) and National Forest Monitoring (NFM) teams. And it will do so by ensuring that relevant national institutions responsible for forest-related data are able to report and respond to the transparency requirements thanks to improved institutional capacity; by enhancing technical capacity of governmental counterparts in pilot countries in reporting forest-related data in an accurate and consistent manner, and by increasing knowledge sharing among transparency practitioners and experts

The project will ensure on-going coordination and collaboration with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP DTU Partnership, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.


The project will directly benefit 26 targeted countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. How were the countries selected and how will you engage with such a large number of countries throughout the project?

The project will directly benefit 26 targeted countries and more broadly some 185 countries and territories that are part of the global network of National Correspondents for the Global Forest Resources Assessment. Project activities will be linked closely with FAO’s ongoing global and national forest monitoring work currently supported by other donors such as European Commission, Norway and a number of other donors.

The selection of countries was based on-going forest monitoring work at global and national level and a series of criteria, including: i) forest-related data collection and analysis processes status; ii) reporting status to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement status; and iii) FAO staff based in the country with on-going collaboration or activities. In addition, technical consultations and meetings with FAO regional and country offices to obtain their perspectives, and teleconferences with countries took place.


What are the biggest challenges countries are facing with regard to forest monitoring and transparency in the forest sector?

A global assessment of 99 tropical countries was performed with FRA 2015 data. The results emphasized the effectiveness of capacity building programmes, such as those implemented by FAO and under REDD+ readiness, but also the need for continued capacity development efforts. This study also mentions that is important for countries to maintain their forest monitoring system and update their inventories on a regular basis. This will further improve accuracy and reliability of data and information on forest resources and will provide countries with the necessary input to refine policies and decisions and to further improve forest management.

During the Project Preparation Grant (PPG) phase of the CBIT-Forest project, an on-line survey also gathered information on key gaps and barriers from FRA National Correspondents. Main results indicated that lack of updated data from field or remote sensing observations and data at the required scale as well as training were the most important issues.


So would you say that the project supports countries' readiness for the preparation of their Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs)?

The focus of the project is to work on the data collection, analysis and dissemination of forest-realted data. This means that we need to enhance capacities to establish robust and sustainable national forest monitoring systems that will inform and support the preparation of BTRs.


How do you ensure that capacities built are retained beyond project duration?

The CBIT-Forest project will promote cross-sectoral dialogue and improve the technical and functional capacities, following FAO’s corporate capacity development strategy and framework, of participating countries and institutions. There are several countries and institutions with adequate technical capacity to ensure effective participation in the project and its implementation, however, most of the time functional capacities as for example  knowledge, partnering or implementing) are lacking.

The CBIT-Forest has a strong capacity development focus ensuring that capacities of all participating countries and institutions will be strengthened where needed and that capacities will remain in place after the end of the project. During the project implementation, different south-south cooperation (e.g. policy dialogue) as well as capacity development (e.g. coaching, training, on-the-job learning etc.) modalities to support countries will be implemented. There will be high-level dialogues at regional as well as national level.

In addition, results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention areas through existing information sharing networks and forums such as the GFOI, Commission on Forestry (COFO) and Regional Forestry Commission in all regions and others. The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based, and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation through lessons learned.


What do you think are the main challenges and risks for implementing this project?

The project will rely heavily on the interest and inputs provided by governmental institutions and representatives as well as practitioners. Measures to mitigate this risk include: a) raise awareness of high level and technical experts of forest-related data to respond to the ETF, b) significant network of country representatives already established for the forest sector, c) the incentives to implement National Forest Monitoring Systemfor better decisions and planning, and c) outreach events that will be implemented.

The lack of coordination among concerned ministries and local government authorities. Measures to mitigate this risk include: a) raise awareness of the importance of institutional arrangements for the establishment of National Forest Monitoring Systems, b) capacity-building initiatives at regional/national level that will be implemented.


The project will be implemented in 26 countries with very different capacities. How are the different capacities in countries considered in the project implementation?

The second component has three key outputs and as part of the activities of these outputs gaps and needs assessments will be undertaken at country level. These needs and gaps will be taken into account in the implementation of the project.


How can countries, which are not part of the project, benefit from it?

The CBIT-Forest project will ensure that countries not directly involve will benefit thanks to the global products that will be developed which are free and open access and its outreach and knowledge management plan to ensure all global, regional and national stakeholder’s area properly informed. The CBIT-Forest has already its webpage and all information will be available there.

Global products that are available for all countries is the upgraded FRA reporting platform which will be launched in June 2020, e-learning course on Forests and Transparency and selected cases studies on successful transparency-related activities from LAC, Africa and Asia. For example, the e-learning course will be placed in the FAO e-learning centre platform where self-paced learning is offered free of charge covering a wealth of topics of global interest and distribution in multiple languages.


How will you make sure how that stakeholders will actually use the e-learning courses?

The courses will be offered in different languages, starting with English and then also French and Spanish. The e-learning will only be the starting point and in a next step, we will be looking into blended form of modalities. The e-learning will be undertaken in cooperation with the UNFCCC and GFOI and we hope that we also reach other people such as foresters through that, in order to inform them about the importance of national forest monitoring systems.


The most important information about the CBIT-Forest project is summarized in the FAO press release here.

2 February 2020


Rocio Condor-Golec is a Climate Change and MRV Expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Focal Point of the CBIT-Forest project.


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