Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: voluntary guidelines.

Published online
26 Jun 2019
Content type

Publication language
Africa & Latin America & South East Asia


This proposed Voluntary Guidelines focuses on promoting SFM in concessions of public natural production forests in tropical regions. They build on the ITTO Voluntary Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, as well as other relevant guidance for good forest governance and SFM, providing practical guidance to new forest concession regimes, or existing ones. The concession guidelines stem from lessons learned in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. In combination with criteria and indicators (C&I) processes, these guidelines provide a framework for implementation and monitoring of concessions to deliver true SFM. Given the widespread adoption of forest concessions in tropical regions, reviewing and framing them as appropriate forest policy instruments to deliver SFM offers opportunities for turning concessions into effective vehicles to address the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. The multidimensional nature of SFM results in a holistic contribution to the SDGs through interlinkages with other sectors and an intrinsic need for multistakeholder processes and partnerships. Sustainable forest concessions can make a direct contribution to achieving SDGs 1, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13 and 15. The Voluntary Guidelines were developed around four dimensions of concessions management: improved governance, economic feasibility, social inclusion and environmental integrity. They were structured under eight principles that call for: (1) coherence with forest and forest-related policies for sustainable landscapes; (2) clear, credible and efficient legal and institutional frameworks; (3) transparent and accountable planning, allocation, implementation and monitoring of forest concessions; (4) technical capacity for management and operation of concession regimes at all levels; (5) long-term economic and financial feasibility; (6) clarity and security of tenure rights; (7) community participation and benefits; and (8) environmental integrity in forest concessions. The framework of principles and guidelines is summarized. For each principle, guidelines and recommendations were formulated and illustrated according to good practices identified by relevant stakeholders and cleared by the Forest Concessions Initiative Steering Committee. The Self-Assessment Tool contains questions reflecting the guidelines and provides a hands-on instrument for evaluating and developing enabling conditions for both planned and existing forest concessions. The Voluntary Guidelines are part of FAO's work to support sustainable forest production and unlock contributions to the SDGs and climate change. Application of these guidelines in specific local contexts should help to deliver socioeconomic benefits to enhance local livelihoods, while supplying harvested wood products that will contribute to the transformational change needed in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

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