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Advancing knowledge of “jurisdictional approaches” to responsible commodity production

This article was original posted on the WWF website.

Jurisdictional approaches are exciting the global agriculture and conservation communities.

Collectively, jurisdictional approaches refer to a suite of strategies for protecting forests and other ecosystems within landscapes that produce important commodities—like beef, soy, and palm oil—at a scale that broadens sustainability impacts from the farm level to an entire political territory. These approaches hold great potential to align stakeholder interests in improved production and conservation in a landscape, in particular by catalyzing scaled land use planning and access to more sustainable production practices.

The buzz around jurisdictional approaches is being heard in international fora as well. They featured prominently in the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020’s recent annual report and are listed among the top priorities of TFA 2020’s Action Agenda released this year. And they took center stage in September at the 2017 annual meeting of the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force in Balikpapan, Indonesia. At this meeting, governors of subnational jurisdictions from across the world announced the Balikpapan Statement, which outlines an agenda for subnational governments to reduce deforestation by working with the private sector, protecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and securing financial support.

Despite the growing interest in jurisdictional approaches as a means to help achieve deforestation reduction targets articulated in the New York Declaration on Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals, information about what is being done on the ground continues to be scarce. In May, WWF convened leading practitioners to begin filling this knowledge gap by deeply exploring 5 jurisdictional pilots, focusing on what is working, what is presenting difficulties—and crucially in both cases, why. Close analyses of experiences in Ghana, Liberia, Colombia’s Orinoquia region, and Mato Grosso and Acre states in Brazil distilled 6 key learnings about critical elements of success and pitfalls to avoid.

We captured these key learnings in a report that WWF will launch at the upcoming UN climate conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The paper discusses, for example, the foundational role that a supportive political climate played in putting Acre, Brazil’s jurisdictional initiative in place, the threat that a change in administration could pose going forward, and the mechanisms put in place to guard against future political backtracking. The case of Colombia highlights the need to balance rapid progress to develop an impactful initiative with effective and often time-consuming engagement of a range of stakeholders to ensure proper design and long term buy-in. The paper also includes an annex that provides brief and accessible story lines of each initiative in a format that allows easy comparison.

The just-released report assessing progress against the New York Declaration on Forests commitments demonstrates more than ever the need for action, innovation, and more integration of public and private sector strategies, describing increased commitments across supply chain actors, but also continuing and increased deforestation in many geographies and a dramatic funding imbalance. This report suggests that jurisdictional approaches, while still mostly nascent, may play an increasing role to achieve global forest conservation targets.


Latest report on jurisdictional approach case studies by WWF available here. 


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