GFOI Plenary 2023


The role of forest information in addressing climate change


The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) assembled the community of forest and carbon monitoring practitioners in Rome, Italy, from 9-11 May 2023 for its Plenary and associated side meetings. The theme of the GFOI Plenary 2023 was the role of forest information in addressing climate change. The discussions focused on the development of National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) and associated emissions Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) procedures, and how countries can use these to generate information on forests and other land uses for multiple applications.


In recognizing the vital role that forests must play in an effective response to climate change, the GFOI will take a renewed and concerted effort to further elevate the important technical work of the GFOI community into policy and decision-making. The extensive contributions from the more than 25 tropical countries represented at the Plenary provided evidence of the significant progress made in recent years. This includes the growing number of emission reductions results submitted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the disbursement of performance based payments for emissions reductions in some countries. The GFOI community is generating increasingly valuable information on forests and carbon which empowers decision-makers to take targeted and meaningful action to improve forest management, address climate change, and realize related co-benefits. The GFOI will work with relevant policy and leadership forums to further link the technical information generated by the GFOI community with decision-makers, including potentially through the emerging Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP) and other forums. Through these efforts, it is hoped that countries can implement the enhanced transparency framework (ETF) and increase their ambition through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Following the launch of the GFOI Family of Resources (GFoR) at the Plenary, the GFOI community can now utilize this platform as an organizing framework for the vast amount of operational technical resources. Importantly, the GFoR provides a systematic framework for countries to design and implement their own NFMS and associated MRV procedures. Through its capacity building component and partners, GFOI will disseminate the GFoR to countries to assist in their system development and operationalization efforts. Through its data component, GFOI will work with the community to continue to populate the GFoR with additional resources as they become available. GFOI will also develop new products and resources to fill the remaining knowledge and technical gaps and strengthen the connection between guidance, tools, methods and instructional materials to better enable implementation.

GFOI is proud of the work presented at the Plenary on the critical role of women, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in exercising forest governance, benefiting from MRV outputs and contributing to the MRV process. These stakeholders are critical to effective action on forests and climate change. GFOI will seek to emphasise their important role, expand their participation in the GFOI community and explore how partners can provide better access to data and information to these stakeholders including through strengthening their participation in the MRV process.

The GFOI community acknowledges the challenges for countries in establishing institutional arrangements for NFMS and associated MRV procedures. GFOI will work with interested countries to help them overcome this and embed their systems, staff and procedures in national institutions. Given the nature of this challenge, these efforts must be led by countries however the GFOI is exploring how to best support this process, including through a new Country Led Planning (CLP) program of support.

Finally, all of this depends on the GFOI community’s continued collaborative efforts to improve forest and carbon monitoring capabilities. GFOI will further explore how best to align its work with existing and emerging monitoring activities such as those pertaining to forest degradation, land restoration and blue carbon. The GFOI facilitates the development of NFMS and associated MRV procedures through the delivery of capacity building activities, coordination of data, development of methods and guidance and targeted research and development. This will continue to be the core business of GFOI, with these new efforts intended to complement and further raise the profile and utility of this critical work.

The issues identified in this communique will serve as the basis for GFOI’s priority activities for the 2023 - 2024 period.