National forest programmes
Policy formulation and strategic planning
Policy formulation means normative definition of a desirable future relative to forests, as well as the identification and subsequent prioritization of goals and guidelines for policy implementation.
nfp workshop, 2007
National policy formulation must be considered essential in several respects: it guides all further steps of the nfp process, from legal review to strategic and operational planning and it stands witness to the government's commitment to sustainable development and expresses its political will to this effect; and it harmonizes the different interests of forest stakeholders towards common goals in support of the country’s sustainable development.
It must be noted that various stakeholder groups develop and pursue their own individual forest policies. Harmonizing and consolidating these different views in an equitable, commonly accepted and officially adopted national forest policy statement represents an important step forward.
Two important issues at the beginning of this phase are to: a) agree on who has the right, knowledge or responsibility to plan; and b) define the level of participation and responsibility for the different stakeholders. In any case broad societal consent needs to be established, to be able to implement the actions envisaged during the planning phase. Furthermore, all planning should strive to be realistic.
For policy formulation different stakeholders specific goals need to be cast into a government-led, participatory national policy document. Most likely, the negotiation will best be obtained through workshops on different levels and in different parts of the country. If a forest policy statement is not available, or if it is outdated, a participatory policy formulation exercise represents an excellent entry point.
A financing strategy should be developed in close collaboration with the financial sector. It is a key element of the nfp process as it identifies different alternatives to finance the nfp activities. Hence, the strategy needs to combine various sources of funding and financial mechanisms.
An important output of the planning phase will be a publicly shared vision on forest issues. This is often spelled out in a forest policy statement. This is complemented by additional (sub-) strategies addressing specific needs of the nfp, e.g. financing, communication, information and capacity building.
To make planning operational, action plans for prioritized measures should be put in place. They could address different stakeholders, depending on the issues articulated. For example:
- institutional reform;
- legal amendments (including other sectors);
- physical realizations (e.g. afforestation, forest management, protection of forest ecosystems);
- capacity building;
- information management;
- financing of the planned actions (investment programmes).
To facilitate implementation, action plans should provide clear indications of priority actions, timing, investment estimates and actors involved.