Ecuador Steps up Efforts to Address Deforestation from Agricultural Commodities in the Amazon Basin

Mar 15, 2017

With the aim of achieving net zero deforestation by 2020, the Government of Ecuador is drawing on resources from both the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to reinforce existing government initiatives aimed at addressing deforestation in the Amazon Basin, a critical bulwark against climate change.

The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most bio-diverse areas of the world and home to 10 indigenous nations and five percent of the country’s population. Between 2000 and 2008, this unique area lost 109,000 hectares of natural forest annually, according to Ecuador’s Forest Reference Emissions Level report. More than 99 per cent of the once-forested area is now used for agriculture, often for the production of high-value agro-commodities such as palm oil, coffee, livestock and cocoa.

The GCF and GEF support, totaling 54 million, will fund a comprehensive range of initiatives over the next six years to be led by the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, and implemented with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support.

Using a landscape approach, these initiatives are expected to significantly improve coordination between key institutions and sectors at the local, regional and national levels. The initiatives will also involve strengthening land-use planning, alongside restoration, conservation and sustainable management of forests and vulnerable watersheds.

Funds will also support multi-sectorial dialogue and decision-making through commodity platforms on livestock, coffee, cocoa, oil palm and non-timber forest products. These Platforms will enable diverse stakeholders to come together around common visions and agendas for action on sustainability. Ecuador will use the methodology devised by the UNDP Green Commodities programme to set-up and manage the five Platforms. This methodology is already being used successfully to address sustainability issues across six commodities in four other countries.

Funds will also be used to promote economic incentives and financial instruments, including aligning credit lines towards sustainable agricultural production practices among producers. At the same time, purchasing policies for deforestation-free commodities, their certification and traceability will be strengthened.

Initial activities are expected to get underway in May 2017.

These initiatives significantly support Ecuador’s wider goals aimed at tackling climate change and promoting sustainable production, including through the REDD+ process. REDD+ aims to create incentives for developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forested lands. Ecuador recently became the second country worldwide, after Brazil, to complete the requirements needed for incentives, or result-based payments, to start to be channeled to the country.