Sustaining the world’s remaining forests and their biodiversity has been a priority for environmental policy and action for decades. Limiting deforestation is vital to meeting the Paris Agreement and is a central component of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of many governments. Success also is critical for realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is a key factor in the forthcoming Food Systems Summit. Yet despite the diverse initiatives committed to reducing deforestation driven by commodity production, net global tree cover loss has continued year on year1. In 2018 alone, 12 million hectares of tree cover were lost from the tropics of which 3.6 million hectares were primary forest.

Action to prevent commodity-driven deforestation occurs at multiple levels and is led by a variety of political, private and civil-society organisations.

A lack of alignment means that projects at each ‘level’ of the commodity system are not as effective, efficient, and impactful as they could be. Success is largely confined to specific silos or programmes rather than effecting change at a systemic level.

UNDP commissioned Kite Insights to research a framework to organize and understand these myriad actions. With greater alignment, the impact of practitioner efforts at all levels of the system can be amplified and scaled. The system can be changed, rather than continuing with the prevailing approaches which simply treat symptoms.

The 4 Dimensional Systemic Change report examines levers that offer opportunities for systemic transformation - through cooperation, coordination and integration of actors within and across different levels - in four key dimensions.

 The framework describes the dimensions (Figure 1) which classify the effective actions:

1: INCREASING COHESION BETWEEN LEVELS OF GOVERNANCE AND ACTION

– The vertical axis

2: STRENGTHENING HORIZONTAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN ACTORS

– The horizontal component

3: INCREASING GOVERNMENT CAPACITY FOR SYNERGISTIC ALIGNMENT

– The “fuel” for the system

4: INTEGRATING AND DIVERSIFYING FLOWS OF RESOURCES AND INCENTIVES

– Reducing the “friction” in the system, by better alignment and action towards systemic solutions.

 The 4 dimensions or levers of action are allied with 13 individual recommendations.

The dimensions are summarised in a table:

 

 

The research, which focussed on the work of the Good Growth Partnership,  was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Global Environment Facility. Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs at the GEF, commented:

“These levers clearly reinforce the importance of the Good Growth Partnership as a platform for demonstrating progress with tangible actions on the ground with communities, in the policy realm with governments, and with private sector across boardrooms and bank offices. We have no doubt that the publication will be invaluable to all actors working to shift commodity supply chains toward deforestation-free practices.”

Andrew Bovarnick, UNDP’s Global Head, Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems & Lead Natural Resource Economist, said the report is an effective answer to the ‘silos’ that hinder change programmes:

“Stronger alignment and collaboration are preconditions to systemic change.

This report contributes to an action-oriented dialogue about the existing disconnects across the vast global community of authorities, organisations and individuals working to reduce or eliminate deforestation from commodities production.

Many existing solutions and commitments hold promise, including sub-national jurisdictional and landscape approaches and the ambitious commitments of some private sector companies and national governments. Yet there are currently critical barriers to progress. Solutions are often siloed in ways that limit their impact, reach or longevity and create overlaps, wastage and leakage. The core findings and recommendations of this research highlight opportunities for a more connected and mutually reinforcing network of action, to realise and fulfil shared ambitions for a systemic shift to sustainable commodity production”.

The full report can be accessed here

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