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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum


Online consultation on the development of a Global Core Set (GCS) of forest-related indicators

Forests play a vital role in food security and nutrition, providing food and livelihoods to many of the poorest people on earth as well as environmental services that are crucial for agricultural production (State of the World’s Forests 2016, chapter 4, provides more detail). For this reason, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is partnering with the FSN Forum to host an online consultation on the development of a global core set of forest-related indicators, for use not only in the forest sector, but also in a broader context.

Indicators are used to measure progress towards policy goals. In recent years, the international community has articulated many goals related to forests, in the broader development context (the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals both refer several times to forests), in the context of the Rio conventions, and in instruments focused on the forest sector, notably the UN Forest Instrument and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests. There is a strong commitment by all parts of the international community to provide the information necessary for monitoring progress towards all these targets in a comprehensive, efficient, timely and meaningful way.

However, there has not, so far, been a close coordination of the different forest-related indicators used by these various processes. This has contributed to unclear messages, and an unnecessarily high reporting burden. 

To remedy this problem, a number of agencies with responsibilities for forest-related issues have been working to develop a global core set of forest-related indicators, with the aim of simplifying and harmonising concepts and terminology, on a voluntary basis, while respecting the needs of all potential users. The ultimate outcome should be a clearer, more comprehensive picture of trends and a significant reduction in reporting burden. Following a number of informal meetings, an international expert workshop in Ottawa, and an organisation-led initiative (OLI) in Rome, a task force under the Collaborative Partnership on Forests is drawing up a proposal for a global core set of forest-related indicators. We are now organising this online consultation so that the final set can benefit from the views of a wide range of experts and stakeholders. The results of the on-line consultation will be analysed at an Expert Consultation to be held in June 2017, and will be taken into account when the global core set is finalized.

The Global Core Set of forest-related indicators is intended to contribute to the following purposes:

  1. To measure progress towards sustainable forest management (including SDG 15.2.1).
  2. To measure progress in implementing the UN Forest Instrument and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests, notably the Global Objectives on Forests, and their associated targets.
  3. To measure progress towards SDG targets other than 15.2.1, as well as internationally agreed goals on forests in other instruments notably through meeting the forest-related reporting needs of the Rio conventions.

We would like your comments to have the biggest impact possible. We would therefore appreciate it if you could share them with us by 14 May so that we can present them at the Expert Consultation.

When making your comments, please bear the following in mind:

  • The Global Core Set as a whole should be comprehensive, balanced and short (preferably less than 15 indicators). 
  • The significance of each indicator should be immediately understandable from its title.
  • A true indicator should be defined, not just an area of interest.
  • There should be reason to believe that reliable data on the indicators will be available in the short term for most countries in the world.
  • The focus is on indicators whose development can be influenced by policy makers, not on context or descriptive indicators, which cannot be changed in the short or medium term.

To be useful, the indicators should be defined in “scale-neutral” terms, such as ratios or rates of change.  Absolute areas or volumes will of course be needed, but they are not “indicators” unless they are put into a context, and given a meaning. The online consultation is not concerned with data reporting or quality, as that is the responsibility of the various agencies, each with its own mandate.  Therefore, please focus on the issue of which indicators should be included in the global core set, and how the indicators should be formulated.

The Global Core Set is a work in progress.  A short version of the set, as of April 2017, after input from the CPF Task Force, is set out below. 

Click here to access the global core set of forest-related indicators as proposed by the OLI, with the suggestions of the Task Force, and including the colour coding: GREEN: placed in core set by OLI, YELLOW: further work needed, RED: remove from core set.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the global core set of forest-related indicators, however, it will help analysis if you focus on the following questions:

  1. Is the global core set, as it stands in April 2017, sufficiently comprehensive, balanced and short to achieve its stated objectives? 
  2. If not, how should it be changed:
    • Additional indicators? Please specify.
    • Deletion of indicators? Please specify.
    • Modification/reformulation of indicators? Please specify.
  3. In particular, please provide suggestions for development of the indicators marked YELLOW – further work needed.

FAO and its partners in the CPF Task Force take this opportunity to thank all those who will contribute to this exercise. 

Kit Prins, facilitator of the online consultation


* Click on the name to read all comments posted by the member and contact him/her directly