19 April, 2016
Role of the private sector in forestry and sustainable landscapes
A conversation series with the Directors General of CIFOR
and ICRAF: Part 2
To mark the Day's fourth anniversary, Peter Holmgren, Director General of the
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Tony Simons, Director
General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), sit down together in a
special three-part video interview series to discuss the challenges and
opportunities that lie ahead for forests and for our planet.
In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly
proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. The Day provides an
annual platform to raise awareness on the importance of forests and trees and
the myriad ways in which they sustain our livelihoods.
Below is a transcript of Part 2 in our special three-part TV
interview series. Part 2 discusses the role of the private sector in promoting
sustainable land use and supply chains.
A conversation with the Directors General of two CGIAR
Part 2: Responsible private investment in forestry and
CIFOR and ICRAF are two of the 15 research centers that
comprise CGIAR - the only worldwide partnership addressing agricultural
research for development whose work contributes to the global effort to tackle
poverty, hunger and environmental degradation.
Adinda Hasan, Communications Specialist for Asia, CIFOR
So what's the role of finance in all of this? How do they
help this agenda?
Peter Holmgren, Director-General, CIFOR
Finance and the private sector at large is critical for
future development. I think this is central to the sustainable development
framework and the sustainable development agenda.
ICRAF has pioneered some engagement with the private sector in your research,
so I'd like you to say something about that.
Tony Simons, Director-General, World Agroforestry Center
If we look at the global economy, agriculture contributes
six percent towards GDP and forestry just over one and a half percent. This is
a substantial contribution on two thirds of the land's area.
We face three major objectives. And the first one is to make
smallholder agriculture more profitable. Because if we leave smallholders out
of the value chains, they will continue to suffer and continue to use a lot of
our natural resources and our environment unsustainably. So how do we bring
those smallholders into value chains and the marketplace? And that has got to
be driving and pulling from the private sector as well.
The examples that Peter referred to are trying to build the
trust with the private sector so that they can understand our perspective and
our contribution towards working together in a close relationship.
What essentially CIFOR and ICRAF do, is to help identify and
manage risks in supply chains. And in doing that, provide technical expertise
and a connection through to the livelihoods of those small farmers. And above
and beyond just that financial reward, it is the multiple benefits of forests
We live in really interesting times because on one side we
have the private corporate sector try and achieve more sustainable value
chains. This is, of course, driven both by the consumers who demand this, but
it's also fundamentally driven by an interest to do better on the ground.
There's a lot to do on this. We had the New York Declaration
on Forests a year and a half ago where lots of private sector, civil society
and some governments and provincial governments committed to end deforestation
as part of their value chains. That's a major political step forward. Now,
we're into the implementation of that.
So essentially CIFOR and ICRAF face three challenges in
dealing with the private sector.
The first one is the misconceptions that the private sector
has about research, about the role of public institutions and public
investments. And there is a disconnect here, even though there is so much
emphasis on public-private partnerships. And we're hoping to break down some of
I think the second thing is we need to remember that the
small-scale farmer is the private sector. They're the ones who take decisions,
who have to look at how their own livelihoods are benefiting from engaging with
Unfortunately, small-scale farmers often think about cash
flow. And so long as the cash is coming in, they don't look at their profit and
loss. And even though they have a positive cash flow, they may end up making a
loss. And we've got to help bring a lot of those skills in engaging with
farmers. And we're not going to reach them one at a time. It will be through
farmers' groups, cooperatives, associations, interest groups and rural
platforms... and that is where engaging at scale with the private sector will
really make a difference.
The third one is from the investors' point of view- both the
traditional ODA donors and also new financing instruments because we are
research and development organizations, publicly funded, and our role is to
generate and validate and produce international public goods. But many people
have this mindset that well, if it's a public good, it must be a private bad.
And if it's a private good, it must be a public bad. And we need to break down
some of that to look at how we can better combine public goods with private
We need also to find ways for the private finance sector to
engage. And that's where the large, very large capital, is available. There are
trillions of dollars, literally, in equity in the world looking for good
investments for sustainable development. This is a requirement from their
Check out Part 3 of our special three-part video interview
series for the International Day of Forests 2016, which will be posted on
Forests News next Monday 4 April.
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on
Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
Click here to watch the video of the interview
Source: Forests News