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Forest positive agriculture & food systems
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Forest positive agriculture & food systems

Agricultural expansion remains a key driving force of tropical deforestation - yet its sustainability and productivity depends on forests for key services. Feeding a growing population and halting deforestation are not mutually exclusive, win-win solutions need to be urgently put into practice.

Understanding forest positive agriculture and food systems and REDD+

We are facing a quadruple planetary emergency, with interconnected crises of climate change, global health, biodiversity and food security. To meet these pressing global challenges – all of which have consequences for food security – we must transform our global food system.

In order to sustainably meet projected food demand by 2050 while avoiding climate catastrophe, the global food system must double food production whilst decreasing agricultural emissions by two-thirds. Policies that reduce land use change and promote forest-positive agriculture are urgently needed to avoid the expansion of crop and pasture into forests and other ecosystems.

Significant progress has been made in slowing the global rate of forest loss, but current deforestation rates of nearly 10 million hectares per year remain alarming. The vast majority of deforestation occurs in tropical and subtropical countries. New data shows that nearly 90 percent of global forest loss is attributable to agriculture, with commercial agriculture playing a prominent role in both legal and illegal forest conversion.

Governments have a particularly vital role to play in enabling forest-positive commodity value chains. On the consumer side, regulatory frameworks are gaining ground, and on the production side, integrated landscape approaches are being employed to transition to more sustainable agricultural practices.

Why does UN-REDD work with forest positive agriculture and food systems?

Countries around the world are expanding their efforts to transform food systems towards more efficient production and reduced environmental impact while halting deforestation. Key efforts include the development of national pathways for food systems transformation in the framework of the UN Food Systems Summit , a joint roadmap for action under the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue and the endorsement of the COP26 Glasgow leaders’ declaration on forests and land use .

Government authorities can enable sustainable and legal forest-positive commodity supply and value chains, with a particular focus on integrated landscape approaches. Such approaches are embedded in most national REDD+ strategies, aiming at addressing key drivers of deforestation and forest degradation - with special reference to enhancing and boosting forest positive agriculture.

REDD+ strategies, and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are well positioned to serve as platforms boosting policy coherence and concerted actions. Aiming at increasing agricultural production while protecting forests, restoring degraded lands and ensuring the inclusion of indigenous peoples, local communities, women and youth. Cross-sectoral policies and laws that reduce the impact of agriculture on forests and promote territorial development in forested areas, have been included through country National REDD+ Strategies.

Recognising that the dynamics that drive deforestation are highly dependent on local conditions and socio-economic context, and solutions need to be designed at the local level, the UN-REDD Programme will build upon existing and new approaches to support the achievement of forest positive legal and sustainable supply chains under the 2021-2025 UN-REDD Results Framework. In addition, the Programme has been, and will continue to, provide support to global and national tools and actions that underpin food systems transformation that turns the tide on deforestation.

Key UN-REDD approaches to working with forest positive agriculture and food systems

Ecuador Premium & Sustainable

In Ecuador, the PROAmazonia investment programme is advancing an “Ecuador Premium & Sustainable” strategy with technical assistance from UN-REDD that revolves around five main pillars, including the promotion of modern cooperatives, empowerment of rural women and youth, production of legal, sustainable and forest positive commodities, quality and traceability, productivity, and zero rural poverty.

Remove deforestation from cocoa supply chains

In Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s top cocoa producer country, UN-REDD and the European Union are helping the government remove deforestation from cocoa supply chains and promote legal and sustainable commodity production. The ‘1 for 20 Partnership’ aims at mobilizing USD 1 billion to restore 20% of Côte d’Ivoire’s forest cover by promoting sustainable financing approaches, facilitating partnerships among private actors, the financial sector and public partners to set up scalable financing projects, and promoting dialogue among stakeholders.

Jurisdictional approach for forest positive commodity production

In Viet Nam, UN-REDD supported the development of a jurisdictional approach for forest positive commodity production across multiple value chains. The approach will be piloted  in the Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces to reform the local food systems, supported by forest and climate positive responses, including legal and sustainable coffee supply chains; agroforestry models; real-time monitoring of deforestation and land-use change; institutional capacities of local communities and civil society in monitoring and governance; safeguards systems; partnerships with the business sector; and integration with the master planning process.

Key lessons learned from UN-REDD experiences with integrated landscape approaches which may be useful to countries as they pursue national pathways for food systems transformation:


A role for all actors

There is a role for all actors (governments, private sector, civil society,communities) in halting deforestation in agriculture supply chains; concerted efforts and a multistakeholder approach that reconciles conflicting demands and seeks a common agenda is vital.


Key enabling factor

Policy alignment, cross-sectoral government coordination and collaboration is a key enabling factor and must be institutionalized, including through national budgets.


Conditions for sustainable investment

Integrated land use planning, inclusion of farmers, local communities and Indigenous peoples and the security of tenure rights are important enabling conditions for sustainable public and private investment.


Forest-positive production models

Sustained technical support and capacity development is crucial to supporting the adoption of forest-positive production models.


Keeping track of progress

Shared monitoring and information systems can be useful tools for planning and keeping track of progress made.


Food systems transformation

Finance (including incentives and innovative financing modalities) is necessary to fund food systems transformation.

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