Forest and Water Programme

The Forest Water Champions

In August 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) established an expert group from the forestry and water sectors to identify common ground, and to enhance the attention to the important role played by the forest-water nexus in securing resilient landscapes. The expert group, the Forest-Water Champions (FWC), brings together the following partners:  AGWA, CIFOR/ICRAF, CGIAR, FAO, Global Resilience Partnership, IUCN, IUFRO, SIWI Swedish Water House, UNEP, and WRI. 

Discussions during the first network meeting resulted in the formulation of a common statement: "Forests and water; managing our connected natural capital", which provides a common ground for the network to engage in international processes, highlighting the importance of the forest-water nexus for sustainable development, landscape restoration and climate change mitigation/adaptation. The FWC meets regularly to build on its convergence of perspectives and ideas and to implement them through engagement in international processes.

The contributions made by the expert group includes contributions to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 and the Talanoa Dialogue. The FWC also participate in major international events such as World Water Week, the World Forestry Congress and COPs of the different Multilateral Environmental Agreements through the organization of side events, sessions, webinars as well as the development of policy briefs, blogs and notes to advocate for the inclusion of the forest-water nexus in international policy. 

Below you will find information on upcoming or recent events.

UNFCCC COP28 Resilience Hub Event: Landscapes for water – Scaling up locally-led climate action

8 December 2023

The Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, Australian Water Partnership, Stockholm International Water Institute and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations co-hosted a session at the Resilience Hub under the theme 'Water and Natural Ecosystems' for this years UNFCCC COP28. 

This session, called ‘Landscapes for water – Scaling up locally-led climate action’, was held on Friday the 8th of December from 13:30-14:30 GST (10:30-11:30 CET). It focused on best-practices, tools, and local initiatives that strengthen climate action and water resilience across landscapes, followed by a discussion on how they can be upscaled and systematically incorporated into global and national processes. The following local solutions were presented during the session:

Local Solution 1- Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis: In Zimbabwe local stakeholders have engaged in a bottom-up climate adaptation project to explore nature-based solutions for addressing climate change impacts of cyclones and intensifying droughts. Under the leadership of UNESCO and in collaboration with an international team of adaptation experts, community groups performed climate risk assessments and strategic planning to identify adaptation actions that suited the environmental and social conditions of the mountainous systems and villages in the valley. Ultimately, a series of small check dams were constructed as low-cost, high impact solutions to their hydroclimatic challenges.

Local Solution 2- Water-smart Forest and Landscape Restoration Tool: To ensure that forest and landscape restoration initiatives are sustainable and successful in the long-term, SIWI is developing the Water-smart Forest and Landscape Restoration tool. Forest ecosystems and water security are highly interdependent. Any forest and landscape restoration effort must consider water aspects as well as being participatory and transparent.

Local Solution 3- The forest-water-climate nexus in the Zambezi headwaters in Zambia: With support from the UN-REDD Programme, FAO is bringing together Zambian and international partners, civil society, local communities and academia. Focusing on five key districts, the partners combine local knowledge, national monitoring data, remote sensing data and state-of-the-art models and tools into a comprehensive assessment of Zambezi’s forest-water-climate nexus. This assessment also works to identify new and diverse sources of finance for local climate action, including payment for ecosystem service schemes. 

You can watch the recording here

XV World Forestry Congress session: Forest - water connections to achieve the SDGs

3 May 2022

CIFOR/ICRAF, UNEP and SIWI Swedish Water House organized a session under Sub-theme 6 - Forests without boundaries - titled "Forest-Water Connections to achieve the SDGs."

The session took place on Tuesday 3 May 2022 from 11:00 to 12:30 Seoul time (03:00-04:30 CET).

The session focused on the contributions of water-centred sustainable forest management, or SFM with the provision of water services as a main management objective, to achieving the SDGs. Specifically, the focus was on improving integration of water in forest management and maximizing the outputs from the forest-water nexus at different scales and landscapes from the mountains to plains and rivers. The session explored questions such as how forests provide water-related benefits and how do we manage them? The session organizers and partners also looked ahead and deliberated how these contributions can be up-scaled and what kind of barriers need to be overcome.

The objective was to demonstrate how the forest-water nexus, and specifically water-centred SFM, is key to achieving the SDGs. Landscape approaches that have the provision of water services as one of the main management objectives are increasingly being implemented as a form of SFM, as they go beyond the boundaries of traditional forest management by focusing on the range of co-benefits that come from this focus. In order for water-centred SFM to make an effective contribution to the achievement of the SDGs, it is vital to strengthen technical cooperation between all levels of society. This includes governments and organizations, regional departments and corporations, as well as local and indigenous community members.