The Governance of Forests Initiative Indicator Framework
This publication presents a revised version of the Governance of Forests Initiative (GFI) Indicator Framework, a comprehensive menu of indicators that can be used to diagnose strengths and weaknesses in forest governance. It updates the...
Imagine if you didn’t know how your Senator or Representative voted on particular bills. Until recently, that was the case in Uganda. Now, based on the recommendations from a WRI-sponsored study in Uganda with the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment on legislative environmental representation, the Ugandan Parliament will record legislators’ votes. Ugandan citizens, journalists, academics, and companies can now monitor how the nation makes decisions impacting the environment and can hold legislators accountable for their votes.
Electricity production is central to climate change as it accounts for 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Too often, electricity decisions are made through closed processes with little scrutiny.
WRI’s Electricity Governance Initiative (EGI) is a civil society partnership promoting better governance in the electricity sector. Transparent, accountable, and a participatory decision-making processes will, in time, produce better decisions. When Thailand was privatizing its power utility, a report by in-country partners using the WGI toolkit highlighted the lack of a strong regulatory body to balance the interests of the public against those of a private power utility. The Thai courts halted the privatization, referencing our analysis that the privatization did not prevent abuses of power.
Electricity production accounts for 40% of global CO2 emissions. Too often, electricity decisions are made through closed processes with little scrutiny. WRI’s Electricity Governance Initiative is a civil society partnership working in India, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, and the Philippines – five countries with rapidly growing emissions from power generation – to improve public participation in the energy decisions that affect their lives.
The Electricity Governance Initiative has played an important role in the development of Thailand’s new Energy Industry Act, provisions of which include: promoting adequate energy services while maintaining fairness for both consumers and businesses; protecting consumer interests with regard to tariffs and service quality while increasing competition and preventing abuses of power; and promoting fairness and transparency in the provision of energy without unjust discrimination.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s richest countries in
terms of natural wealth, yet among the poorest in terms of GDP. Forests blanket
60% of the country.
Following decades of mismanagement and two civil wars, the DRC is taking steps to
promote sustainable forest management. In 2005, with World Bank financing, the
government launched a process to review and convert old logging titles into forest
concessions aligned with the country’s new forest code.
Pierre Methot directed WRI's forestry work in Central Africa in 2009. He explains WRI’s role,
“Acting as the international independent observer, alongside our Belgian partner
AGRECO, we designed the review methodology, provided technical support, and
ensured compliance with the law. We insisted the process and results be made
publicly available and that local and indigenous populations be involved.”
Of 156 logging titles reviewed, only 65 were deemed legal for new concessions.
The remaining titles – 12 million hectares of rainforest – were set for cancellation.
“Protecting hectares is important,” says Methot, “but more importantly, this process
was transparent and involved multiple stakeholders – a first for the DRC. It sets the
groundwork for an accountable approach to forest and natural resource management.”
Cameroon’s forests, covering more than 20 million hectares, offer a range of ecosystem services and are vital resources for both biodiversity and economic growth. But illegal loggers also find value in the forests, and illegal logging has long threatened local livelihoods, decimated wildlife, and squandered public revenue. The Cameroonian government is responsible for controlling logging activities, but a lack of adequate forest-related information, tools, and capacity has historically made it difficult to monitor logging activities.
Recognizing this critical gap, WRI launched a partnership in 2002 with Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and interested NGOs. WRI’s goal was to provide information and tools that would improve transparency, accountability, and forest monitoring — ultimately serving as the springboard for a crackdown on illegal logging. WRI developed interactive maps, data, and decision-support systems to monitor logging activities and trained government officials, NGO, and private sector representatives on their use. These systems have:
Enabled Cameroonian officials to systematically detect logging violations in protected areas and outside of forest concessions.
Empowered local NGOs to conduct independent monitoring of logging operations.
Helped ensure wood products leaving Cameroon were harvested legally, in compliance with international import regulations such as the FLEGT and U.S. Lacey Act.
As the first international NGO to map Cameroon’s forests and place accurate, up-to-date information into public hands, WRI sent ripples through the Cameroonian forest sector, making it clear that illegal logging would no longer go unnoticed or unpunished.
Principle 10’s guidelines are fundamental pillars of good environmental governance. They cover critical areas, including freedom of information laws, state of the environment reporting, emergency planning and response, project planning, and environmental harms. Adoption of the guidelines will have several significant impacts:
The decision clarifies minimum legal standards for implementation of Principle 10.
The decision requires UNEP’s Executive Director to assist countries in implementing programs and policies around access — and thus ensures that UNEP has a mandate to continue advancing the implementation of Principle 10 at the national level.
The GC’s formal adoption of the guidelines will be critical in strengthening the case that officials and civil society can make for open information systems and decision-making processes.
WRI’s Access Team and partners played a significant role in leading the push to convince GC members to formally adopt the guidelines, rather than simply “note” them. Staff wrote online articles informing access proponents of the opportunity, and WRI sent staff and international partners to three UNEP meetings. WRI Staff Member Carole Excell participated in the Nairobi Expert Meeting in November of 2009 and played an important role in helping revise the guidelines.
Perhaps most critically, WRI successfully helped influence the U.S. delegation to the GC through communications with the USEPA and the U.S. Department of State. To our knowledge, no other U.S.-based NGO pressed the delegation on the issue of adoption. Ultimately reversing its earlier position, the U.S. delegation pushed strongly for adoption of the guidelines and successfully persuaded holdout countries to move toward a consensus for adoption.
UNEP’s poverty and environment division thanked WRI for its help in reaching this critical milestone.
Fires are flaring up once more on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Media reports in the region indicate that the resulting smog has already reached unhealthy levels over parts of Indonesia and Malaysia.