If you make a promise, can you keep it? Many commitments have been made – both by governments and companies – to reduce deforestation resulting from the production of commodities. Some of these promises have resulted in notable progress, but in other cases it has been slow and uneven. Neither governments nor private sector seem to be on track to meet their ambitious 2020 commitments on reducing deforestation caused by commodity production, which is linked to the loss of valuable carbon sinks, pollution of air and water, and reduced livelihoods for forest dependent peoples.

From Commitment to Action (FC2A) is a global flagship UNDP initiative that was implemented during 2019 in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as a multi-stakeholder pilot approach to find the systemic barriers which get in the way of meeting such commitments, and thereby support the step up from commitment, to action.

After a year-long collaborative research process, UNDP’s FC2A initiative is providing an overview of the landscape of deforestation commitments and their progress in implementation, identifying in three Country Roadmaps where there are still systemic barriers to the efforts to accelerate a reduction in deforestation of the Amazon. The results summarised in the From Commitment To Action: Supporting Deforestation Free Commodity Supply Chains From The Amazon report emphasize just how complex it is in each country to create the right context with all the regulations, plans, incentives, and capacities in place so that production practices are transformed.

The FC2A analysis suggests a range of actions that would make a difference in tackling the persistent gaps that impede progress. These insights, all centered on a systemic approach, have been identified as key contributors to success, ranging from overarching considerations to action on the ground:

o   Think more systemically – especially in getting every stakeholder around the table to ensure joined-up working. Involve more than just the usual parties, including a broader range of government ministries, to ensure everyone recognises and protects sustainable use of forest areas, and applies frameworks or guidelines developed for zero deforestation.

o   Consider the geography - step up planning and coordination across the different levels of National, Regional and Local government on issues such as land use planning and ensure a more systemic approach to coordination is employed here too. Make sure that systems for land mapping, zoning, and monitoring are completed and adapted for use by local authorities and communities.

o   Enforce sanctions for deforestation and inappropriate land use change, with penalties and effective deterrents. Strengthen the capacity of the national/local police, the courts and institutions to deal with perpetrators and enforce due diligence.

o   Develop alternative agricultural planning models that integrate the sustainable use and management of forest resources with production of commodities such as dairy, beef and cocoa. Private sector engagement to support zero deforestation supply chains through good purchasing practices and pricing mechanisms will recognise and reward this.

o   Recognise natural assets such as forests as potential driver for sustainable economic growth.

In the report, the reader will find much more detailed recommendations in each individual country’s documentation.

The FC2A initiative found good progress being made in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. For example, there is strengthened land use planning, legislation is in place governing land use, and national level satellite and on the ground monitoring systems have been set up. Ecuador is leading the way on jurisdictional certification for deforestation free palm oil, Peru has developed a Forest Coverage Monitoring Module as part of a national system for monitoring the impact of agriculture on forests, and Colombia has established a national cut-off date and definition for deforestation.

However, many challenges persist. There is still much work to be done in improving coordination between Ministries and aligning contradictory policies that do not support the protection of forests or other natural resources. National level policies and legislation are poorly implemented at the sub national level due to limited resources and capacities and/or insufficient operational guidance. Markets are not yet rewarding commodities that demonstrate sustainable production practices. And although all countries have increasingly stringent laws in place regarding deforestation, there is often weak implementation and ineffective application of meaningful sanctions.

"As we look into concrete pathways and renewed efforts to implement our Goals, the New York Declaration on Forests’ Global Platform welcomes the FC2A report, which proposes specific country roadmaps and recommendations to strengthen implementation. This focus on implementation is key to accelerating momentum from commitment to action by NYDF endorses and other influential stakeholders", says Jamison Ervin, Manager of the Nature for Development Global Programme, UNDP & NYDF Platform Secretariat.

The report hopes that the roadmaps and accompanying research can serve as a valuable input for multi-stakeholder processes in each country to identify areas for further investment and inform the development of new programmes and policies using a broader systems approach. These resources can also help governments with resource mobilization, and to demonstrate to other stakeholders, especially the private sector, that what they are doing will help create an enabling environment and lower the risk of deforestation in commodity supply chains.

Read and download here the full report, From Commitment To Action: Supporting Deforestation Free Commodity Supply Chains From the Amazon.