The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is helping countries to address the problems of the disappearing forests. A partnership of 14 international organizations, CPF members work together to improve forest management and conservation and the production and trade of forest products. The CPF was established in April 2001, following a recommendation of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests supports the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), a subsidiary body of ECOSOC with the objectives to promote “… the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end…”. In so doing, the Partnership strives to enhance and support international cooperation and coordination on forest issues. CPF is chaired by FAO and supported by the UNFF secretariat.
The CPF is an informal and voluntary arrangement, characteristics that have greatly contributed to its success. Each member agency serves as a focal point for a particular forest-related issue and contributes expertise and resources to fostering joint action around that issue. Some subjects of concern to the CPF include combating deforestation and forest degradation, forest landscape restoration, social and cultural aspects of forests, the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, international trade, and traditional knowledge.
The Partnership can point to many accomplishments in its 10-year history. A task force of CPF members helps countries to comply with the sometimes onerous task of reporting to treaties and international agreements on forests. Joint statements and policy papers have helped to inform the work of the UNFCC, as well as the scientific bodies responsible for supporting international conventions on biological diversity, climate change and desertification. The Global Forest Information Service provides public access to information on events, data, publications, and expertise related to forests and trees. An initiative on science and technology provides technical reports on issues of the concern for the UNFF and other intergovernmental bodies.
Sustainable forest management has long been accepted as the goal of national and international efforts around forest protection. The concept describes the balance between society’s demands on forests and the conservation of forest health and diversity. Enabling sustainable forest management is overwhelmingly the basis for decisions to fund forestry initiatives in developing countries, yet a lack of information on funding sources and opportunities has hindered progress in this area. CPF’s Sourcebook on Funding for Sustainable Forest Management helps users to locate funding for sustainable forest management projects. The Sourcebook contains a database of over 650 funding sources as well as information on developing project proposals and the efficient use of resources.
An important objective of the CPF is to increase collaboration among members and its contributions towards this end are significant. One important joint activity has been to raise awareness and inform political processes concerned with forest governance and law enforcement. In 2005, FAO and ITTO published Best Practices for Improving Law Compliance in the Forest Sector, an analysis of current knowledge for decision makers. Now, those organizations, along with IUCN and the World Bank, are holding a series of regional workshops to share experiences among countries and to develop strategies for improving compliance with forest laws. FAO, along with the CBD, UNEP and ITTO, are helping countries in Asia and the Pacific to develop harmonized forest-related monitoring and reporting systems that link directly to national policy and planning. The same partners coordinated their response to the 2004 India Ocean tsunami, sharing information on impact and needs assessment. They are also working together to develop a new world mangrove conservation atlas. CIFOR and ICRAF have launched a joint research program in Asia, the Pacific and Oceania focused on integrating livelihoods and conservation in tropical forests and the UNFF Secretariat and CIFOR have embarked on a study of the relationship between forests, conflicts and peace-building.
As the need grows apace to take decisive and definitive action to save the world’s forests, the importance of innovative global mechanisms such as CPF can only increase. By bringing together important forest-related institutions to share information, coordinate responses and work collaboratively, the Partnership has already produced important outcomes, such as reduced duplication and stronger partnerships. Continued support for the work of the CPF-and that of its partners-can only benefit the global effort to safeguard the world’s forests for the benefit of humanity.