Boosting transparency of forest data

FAO Webinar Explores Lessons from CBIT-Forest and the path forward


As climate change poses a growing threat to life around the world, the global community has increased mitigation and resiliency efforts through international commitments such as the Paris Agreement. A vital component of this treaty, the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) was developed to build confidence in countries’ individual climate actions. Now, with the requirements of the ETF coming due in 2024, countries are finding solutions for improved collection, analysis and dissemination of forest and emission data to create a strong basis for reporting.  

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is among the UN agencies supporting these efforts, particularly through the CBIT-Forest project. Funded by GEF, CBIT-Forest is characterized by three main goals – boost institutional capacity, strengthen technical capacity and increase knowledge sharing. Coming to a close this year, CBIT-Forest has reached more than 9,000 people through its project activities, including webinars, virtual trainings and knowledge sharing materials. 

Last week, the project hosted a knowledge sharing global webinar, “Learning from experiences to increase forest data transparency for climate action.” This event featured representatives from partner organizations, including GEF and UNFCCC, and from several of the project’s pilot countries – Uganda, Thailand, Cote d’Ivoire and Guatemala, as well as other international experts. Serving as an opportunity to discuss implementation of the project at the global, regional and national levels, this webinar identified CBIT-Forest as a starting point for increased reporting and transparency. The project’s lessons learned and experiences of pilot countries can continue to benefit developing countries as they race to meet the ETF’s 2024 deadline.  

In two-years, CBIT-Forest has achieved a great deal, including hosting 16 global webinars and producing an elearning course, a Massive Open Online Course “Forests and Transparency Under the Paris Agreement,” and other knowledge resources. In fact, the project’s outreach and dissemination materials have been accessed more than 88,000 times. Notably, CBIT-Forest’s many virtual events and online materials have seen considerable female engagement, with women making up 38 percent of overall project participants.  

The project’s significant virtual participation can largely be attributed to COVID-19. Rocío Cóndor, the FAO CBIT-Forest Project Lead, explained how the pandemic had mixed impacts on the project.  “Although presenting its own challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic provided opportunities for us to explore new modalities for carrying out project activities,” said Ms. Cóndor. “Adapting as we went, the project shifted from in-person to virtual activities, which broadened our global outreach and enabled us to exceed many of our goals.”  

These knowledge materials have helped to promote the importance of open data, which can help the global community address challenges beyond climate change, including poverty, hunger and inequality. CBIT-Forest has continuously stressed the importance of open data, even funding a series of national forest inventory (NFI) elearning modules to make learning about data collection, storage and reporting more accessible than ever before.  

Like NFIs, national forest monitoring systems (NFMS) are vital for reporting on emissions and land use. Julian Fox, the Team Leader of the National Forest Monitoring cluster in the Forestry Division at FAO, stressed the importance of these systems. “National Forest Monitoring Systems provide countries with the ability to respond to their own forest data needs,” explained Mr. Fox. “And with robust data, countries can inform climate policy and improve the sustainable management of forest resources.” CBIT-Forest has helped strengthen monitoring efforts by funding the development of an NFMS Assessment Tool to identify needs and gaps in NFMS.  

CBIT-Forest also supported the development of a book on harmonizing the elements of NFIs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Twenty-one countries in the region supported the creation of this publication, evidencing the project’s support to regional and international networks. Anssi Pekkarinen, the Team Leader of the Global Forest Resources Assessment cluster in the Forestry Division at FAO, emphasized how FAO is continuing to prioritize the development of strong working partnerships across forest and climate networks. According to Mr. Pekkarinen, “we are also planning to further increase our collaboration with other forest-related reporting processes and organizations to ensure better alignment and information exchange among the national focal points.” 

The CBIT-Forest project has also helped to upgrade FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment Platform and expand the Food and Agriculture Microdata Catalogue (FAM) – both platforms that enable global sharing of forest-related data. In 2021, Uganda utilized FAM to become the first tropical country to make its national forest inventory data openly available.  

This webinar went further than simply showcasing the success of CBIT-Forest – it launched the project’s key publication, “Towards open and transparent forest data for climate action: Experiences and lessons learned.” Designed to present main messages and country experiences, the publication also provides steps forward for applying the recommendations outlined within it. As showcased in this new publication, the momentum gathered by the CBIT-Forest project will allow practitioners and experts to continue to enhance accessibility and usability of global forest-related data, develop institutional and technical capacities, share knowledge, and cement forest and climate networks.  

CBIT-Forest has provided a strong foundation for easier collection, interpretation, and sharing of reliable data. With enhanced institutional and technical capacities, as well as open networks for data and knowledge sharing, developing countries will be better established to meet reporting requirements in the ETF and develop informed policy and sustainable management practices. 

Watch the webinar in Spanish and French at the following links: 



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