CIFOR–ICRAF publishes over 750 publications every year on agroforestry, forests and climate change, landscape restoration, rights, forest policy and much more – in multiple languages.

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

CIFOR-ICRAF hosts inaugural Partner Day at Science Week 2023

Photo by Ricky Martin/CIFOR-ICRAF

By Nabiha Shahab

The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) held a new event called ‘Partner Day’ during its 2023 edition of Science Week on May 10th.

Science Week, an annual event, brings together CIFOR-ICRAF’s staff from all over the world to exchange knowledge and insights on crucial global issues within their mandate. This year’s theme, ‘Equity in Action’, provided a unique opportunity to learn about CIFOR-ICRAF’s commitment to equity and inclusion and how their work addresses the global challenge of inequality in collaboration with communities, partners and governments.

The inaugural Partner Day celebrated the contributions of CIFOR-ICRAF’s work with partners to just transitions and equitable transformations in Indonesia. It showcased and reflected on achievements to date, explored ways to enhance existing partnerships and identified new areas for future collaboration.

“The partnership that has been built, has certainly been a powerful one, with personal relationship, friendship and innovation. We are all friends here, we all partners and we are working for the future,” said Robert Nasi, CIFOR-ICRAF’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) in a welcome address, highlighting the significance of the organization’s work in Indonesia for the global forest sector.

“To ensure sustainability, overcoming intergenerational conflict is vital, and a social system that supports decision-making which takes into account the benefits to future generations is critically important,” said Arif Satria, the rector of Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) – one of CIFOR-ICRAF’s strategic partners engaged in collaborative projects to promote sustainability sciences – in a keynote speech.

IPB is part of the Trade Hub consortium led by CIFOR-ICRAF in Indonesia, which aims to promote sustainable trade and address challenges faced by smallholder farmers in the palm oil sector, explained Satria, adding that IPB’s activities there include capacity building, strengthening programs and the development of knowledge products.

Ary Sudijanto, Director-General of the Agency for Standardization of Environment and Forestry Instruments (ASEFI), recognized the longstanding collaboration between the Indonesian government and CIFOR-ICRAF in addressing challenges and improving the country’s forestry sector. “The form of cooperation that is carried out is not only research, but also capacity building, information and expertise exchange,” he said. “The locus of cooperation covers several regions spread throughout Indonesia.”

He listed some key activities that have resulted from the partnership, including the development of the Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System (INCAS), the Haze Free Sustainable Livelihoods Project (HFSLP), the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP), the improvement of governance, policy and institutional arrangements for UN-backed climate mitigation scheme REDD+ and the national arm of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+.

Collaboration for regional green growth planning

In a panel focusing on promoting green growth for improved food security and livelihoods, speakers explored different green growth strategies and initiatives being implemented with the support of research conducted in partnership with CIFOR-ICRAF. The partners shared their experiences in implementing approaches towards sustainable land use and management, improving food security and livelihoods.

Regina Ariyanti, Head of the Regional Planning Agency (BAPPEDA) for South Sumatra, shared insights into the collaboration between the provincial government and CIFOR-ICRAF in the development of a master plan for green growth in the province. She recalled how the partnership began when South Sumatra was hit by severe forest fires in 2015. “ICRAF calculated how much [carbon] loss occurred due to forest fires in the province and helped address some of the challenges from being put in the spotlight, since South Sumatra contributed a lot to smoke and haze at the time.”

One of the current initiatives to reduce emissions is the provincial REDD+ project. The province has received a challenge from the president to keep economic growth in line with emission reductions. This means that economic growth of 7% must be achieved alongside emission reductions of 29%, with an additional contribution of 41% from other countries, said Ariyanti.

Panels on restoration and trade

The afternoon of Partner Day opened with a panel on landscape restoration, with a particular focus on carbon-rich ecosystems like wetlands – including peatlands and mangroves – which face significant pressure for conversion to other uses. Restoring these ecosystems is crucial for mitigating climate change and sea-level rise. The panel discussed mitigation and adaptation measures, highlighting their potential to improve the livelihoods of local communities.

The last panel of the day focused on trade and the new EU anti-deforestation regulation. The trading bloc recently issued a new law to prevent companies from trading commodities linked with deforestation and forest degradation within or from the EU. The session focused on navigating the new regulation, its implications, and the way forward for global trade, the environment, and smallholder farmers. Insights were shared from consumer and producer countries, civil society organizations (CSOs) and research organizations, with palm oil and timber highlighted as case studies.

Overall, Partner Day provided CIFOR-ICRAF with an opportunity to showcase and reflect on how its work addresses the global challenge of inequality – a central focus of its strategy for 2020-2030. The event served as a platform to celebrate existing partnerships, discuss ways to strengthen them and identify new areas for future collaboration.

CIFOR-ICRAF partners with Aga Khan Foundation for evidence-based land management practices


By Ann Wavinya

CIFOR-ICRAF and the Aga Khan Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen action research and promote the conservation and sustainability of agricultural, forest and coastal ecosystems.

The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) has entered a five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF).

The two organizations aim to cooperate in the sustainable use and conservation of agricultural, forestry and coastal ecosystems and in social development benefitting local communities.

“We look forward to this new partnership to strengthen action research on-the-ground,” says Leigh Ann Winowiecki, Global Research Leader of Soil and Land Health at CIFOR-ICRAF. “Specifically, the Soils Research Theme looks forward to generating the evidence base on how land management practices impact soil health across diverse landscapes and farming systems.”

The partnership will combine CIFOR-ICRAF’s global scientific research expertise with AKF’s long-standing relationships with communities to deepen their research and data.

Contact: Ann Wavinya, Communication Officer (a.wavinya@cifor-icraf.org)

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CIFOR-ICRAF highlights commitment to equity under new CEO Dr Éliane Ubalijoro

By David Henry

“The work we are doing is important for the world today, but also for future generations and for the planet.”

With these opening words at Science Week 2023: Equity in Action, Dr Éliane Ubalijoro made her first public appearance as Chief Executive Officer of the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).

Each year, CIFOR-ICRAF hosts a weeklong event that brings its staff from around the world together to establish and sustain institution-wide engagement with the critical global problems that the organization addresses.

This year’s theme of Equity in Action provided a unique opportunity to learn about CIFOR-ICRAF’s commitment to equity and inclusion, a core area of the organization’s strategy for 2020‒2030 to ensure its actions facilitate just transitions and equitable transformations.

“How we help harness the power of trees, forests and agroforestry landscapes to address the most pressing global challenges of our times – biodiversity loss, climate change, food security, livelihoods and inequality – is critical for us to embody Equity in Action,” Dr Ubalijoro said.

Participants from around the world attended the forum at the two campuses in Bogor, Indonesia, and Nairobi, Kenya, while several sessions were streamed to the public for the first time.

The topics included value chain development as a pathway to equity and inclusion; integrated approaches for inclusive landscape governance; climate justice; gender-responsive biochar innovations; and early career scientists as a catalyst for change.

CIFOR-ICRAF’s work, along with that of its partners, has been transforming how land is used and how food is produced. It has helped governments, Indigenous Peoples and local communities develop the tools they need to better conserve and restore ecosystems, and respond to climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises.

“Moving from inequality to justice is a journey that we are all on,” Dr Ubalijoro said. “We all have, at some point, witnessed inequity in the form of unfair and avoidable differences arising from poor governance, corruption or cultural exclusion. We have also witnessed inequality in the form of uneven distribution of wealth. We cannot be passive bystanders on this journey. We cannot be witnesses to the victimization of people or the planet.”

Dr Ubalijoro recalled her own experience as a 17-year-old undergraduate student of agriculture in a non-diverse educational environment that offered little recognition of the pioneering women who had come before her. She overcame the odds, completing a master’s and PhD in molecular genetics before becoming a research scientist and professor, leading teams in the biotechnology sector, in academia and the non-profit sector, as well as advising governments.

“As an organization, it is important we recognize that achieving equity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do, but is also essential for the success of our work,” said Dr Ubalijoro.

The opening plenary also featured keynote speaker Andrew Fanning of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, who introduced an emerging branch of ecological economics that portrays the doughnut shape as a compass of human prosperity with the aim of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet.

“We are now at a point in the 21st century – because of the system we inherited – that we are dependent on constant growth of GDP,” Fanning said. “There’s this dependence upon something that actually cannot continue on a finite planet.”

The doughnut concept, created by Kate Raworth, brings Western economies back in line with the values of other cultures that have thrived in harmony with nature, aiming to correct an imbalanced world and calling for new ways of interaction.

No nation is living within the “doughnut” currently, with all of the Global North overshooting planetary boundaries, while countries such as Costa Rica are emerging as the most efficient at achieving positive social outcomes, Fanning said.

The second public plenary on 11 May explored how change in women’s agency can be measured and monitored to positively impact food systems and the environment.

Jody Harris of the World Vegetable Center examined structural inequities – involving maternal education, wealth and location – as reasons for malnourishment in countries such as India, Botswana and Honduras. Mulia Nurhasan of CIFOR-ICRAF highlighted the lack of recognition that policy makers assign to forests and trees as providers of food and nutrition for the 1.7 people in the world who depend on forests for their survival.

Steph McMullin of CIFOR-ICRAF discussed the low diversity of food in Zambia, where 54 percent of the population are malnourished. She introduced the concept of food tree portfolios, which are designed to diversify food tree species for local food production so that different types of food are available throughout the year and provide micronutrients.

Mary Crossland of CIFOR-ICRAF explained the concept of ‘agency’ – the ability to define one’s goals and act on them – so that women in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia can participate in decisions affecting their health and household purchases. Gloria Adeyiga of the Regreening Africa project elaborated on this topic with a gender-transformative approach to changing women’s agency in land restoration, outlining a case study in the Bawku West District of northern Ghana.

Swati Renduchintala of CIFOR-ICRAF rounded up the session with a talk on the feminisation of agriculture through measuring women’s agency in agroecological approaches to natural farming in India, a holistic method of leveraging photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, improve soil health and enable better water availability.

“At the end of the day, our work is about how we are empowering smallholder farmers and everyone around that ‘last mile,’ such as Indigenous People and local communities,” CEO Ubalijoro said in closing the session. “What is humbling for us as scientists is to ask: How are we affecting mindsets, culture and behavioural change? Those are really critical elements that are going to help bring about the needed transformation.”

The final day featured a public session with speakers from the Global Landscapes Forum, including leaders of youth-led programmes. They focused on the learnings from GLF’s connection with local communities, highlighting the importance of linking scientific knowledge and expertise with local knowledge and action to catalyze just transformations and thriving landscapes.

“The knowledge, the innovative tools, and the scientific methodologies from GLF, CIFOR and ICRAF have helped us in shaping our restoration project to become more evidence- and scientific-based,” said Frances Camille Rivera, who participated in the session and was GLF Wetlands Restoration Steward in 2021.

To watch Dr Éliane Ubalijoro’s keynote speech and more, visit the Science Week event page.

Spotlight on equity at CIFOR-ICRAF’s Science Week

CIFOR-ICRAF science week will be open to the public

The consensus is clear: without keen attention to inequities in power and resources, efforts to address the entwined climate, biodiversity, and food crises will fail. Moreover, the uneven impacts of these crises are likely to exacerbate inequality across the globe, entrenching poverty further and increasing the likelihood of conflict.

That’s why, as both a pragmatic response and a moral imperative, the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) threads a focus on equity and inclusion through all of its work with and for communities, partners, and governments. This year, ‘Equity in Action’ is also the focus of CIFOR-ICRAF’s Science Week, which will take place online from 8-12 May.

The annual event brings together the organisation’s staff from across the globe to connect and engage on the critical global challenges it confronts: namely, deforestation and biodiversity loss; broken food systems (including degradation of land and water resources); climate change; inequality; and unsustainable supply and value chains.

In previous years, Science Week has been a strictly internal affair (though several of the 2022 sessions were made available on YouTube following that year’s event). This year, however, many of the sessions will be available to the public to attend virtually, via free streaming on the organisation’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

When the conference kicks off on 8 May, viewers can catch the opening remarks and keynote speech of Éliane Ubalijoro, CIFOR-ICRAF’s new CEO.

Ubalijoro has a long track record in working on equity issues, and has focused much of her working life on improving food security and improving the lives of women and smallholder farmers in emerging countries. She comes to CIFOR-ICRAF from twin roles as Executive Director of Canadian think tank Sustainability in the Digital Age (SDA) and Professor of Practice for public-private sector partnerships at McGill University‘s Institute for the Study of International Development. At SDA, she was particularly concerned with the ‘digital divides’ that limit women’s, rural communities, and least-developed countries’ access> to digital technologies.

Midweek, 10 May has been dubbed ‘Partner Day’ to celebrate how CIFOR-ICRAF’s work with partners contributes to just transitions and equitable transformations in Indonesia, as well as discussing ways to enhance existing partnerships and identify new areas for collaboration.

Presenters will include governmental representatives, such as Ary Sudijanto, Director General of the Agency for Standardization of Environment and Forestry Instruments, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Moch. Edy Yusuf (Assistant Deputy of Plantation Agribusiness Development, Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs); university representatives, such as Ni Luh Watiniasih (Udayana University) and Ali Suhardiman (Mulawarman University); and civil society representatives, such as Gita Syahrani (Director of Indonesia’s Sustainable Districts Association) and Diah Suradiredja (Kehati Foundation).

Most of the day will be live-streamed, including a session by CIFOR-ICRAF food and nutrition scientist Mulia Nurhasan. She will show how the organisation is working to address sustainability and equity issues simultaneously, by conducting research to support the wide range of inclusive ‘green growth’ strategies and initiatives being carried out by partners. Developmental and environmental objectives are still widely perceived as a “zero-sum struggle”, and much of the organisation’s work in recent years has sought to highlight how to meet both kinds of goals in a symbiotic fashion.

Later that day, and also on the public livestream, CIFOR-ICRAF principal scientist Daniel Murdiyarso and senior scientist Himlal Baral will hone in on an example of such research from their collective decades of experience. They’ll demonstrate how landscape-level restoration in wetland ecosystems such as peatlands and mangroves can address climate challenges in conjunction with livelihood issues. These ecosystems are often extremely rich in carbon, and provide services such as water cycling and flood protection which are particularly critical in the face of climate change impacts. However, they frequently face tremendous pressure from conversion for other uses such as agriculture and urban development. The session will show how restoration, adaptation, and mitigation measures can – and should – be seen as an opportunity to enhance the livelihoods of local communities.

Also on 10 May, Indonesia Deputy Country Director for CIFOR-ICRAF, Herry Purnomo, will tease out some of the knotty equity challenges wrought by international climate change mitigation and biodiversity efforts. Specifically, he’ll discuss a new EU law that’s designed to prevent companies from placing commodities on its market that are linked with deforestation and forest degradation, or exporting them from the EU. While the intent is laudable, the risk of sidelining the millions of smallholder farmers who currently supply the EU market, through increased compliance costs, is real. Purnomo will take viewers through the new law’s implications and consider the way forward for global trade, the environment, and smallholder farmers. The session will offer insights from consumer and producer countries, civil society and research organisations, and will highlight palm oil and timber as case studies.

To make sure you don’t miss out on these sessions – and plenty more – be sure to follow CIFOR-ICRAF on Facebook, YouTube, and/or Twitter, and sign up for email updates here. To catch up on last year’s Science Week, check out our YouTube playlist.

CIFOR-ICRAF and INSTIPER sign MoU for research, restoration and capacity

Photo by Laurentius Angga/CIFOR-ICRAF

The two organizations — international and national — are collaborating in research for development of degraded land in Indonesia.

The Faculty of Forestry of Institut Pertanian Stiper (INSTIPER) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia is a private university established in 1958, with two campuses located in Maguwoharjo and Papringan. The term ‘Stiper’ derives from its earliest incarnation as Sekolah Tinggi Perkebunan (Plantations High School). INSTIPER signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CIFOR-ICRAF on 14 April 2023 to jointly collaborate on research, capacity building and funding mobilization.

“We are very pleased to have a formal agreement to collaborate with CIFOR-ICRAF,” said Rawana (sole names are common in Indonesia), dean of the Faculty of Forestry. “We expect that together we will be able to address important questions regarding restoration of degraded land, particularly, ex-mining and mangrove areas, which are under-researched.”

Of considerable interest to both organizations is the potential for such degraded land to become productive again and contribute to meeting national climate and economic goals, such as through bioenergy agroforestry with oil-seed species Millettia pinnata (the genus was formerly known as Pongamia and is often called ‘malapari’ in Indonesia) and Calophyllum inophyllum (known as ‘tamanu’ in many parts of Indonesia), along with other multipurpose tree species, annual crops and livestock, including fisheries.

“The potential for these two oil-seed species is still under-developed, not just in Indonesia but globally,” said Himlal Baral, senior forest and landscape restoration scientist with CIFOR-ICRAF’s climate change, energy and low carbon development team. “We aim to test them in mixed species’ agroforestry systems that can provide not only bioenergy supply from the seeds but also multiple benefits for smallholders, such as food and nutrition security, fodder, financial risk reduction, nutrient cycling and natural fertilization, shade and water regulation, along with carbon sequestration, which will support Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Without restoration, degraded land would contribute almost nothing to anyone.”

These ambitions are in line with INSTIPER’s mandate to play an active role in developing science and technology, fostering a progressive programme of academic invention and research, and contributing to nation building through the provision of qualified practitioners who strive to enhance the welfare of communities, improve the quality of land conservation and restoration, and develop environmental and cultural sustainability.

“CIFOR-ICRAF has a long history of commitment to working closely with national research bodies such as INSTIPER,” said Robert Nasi, who is currently fulfilling many roles at the organization: Chief Operating Officer, CIFOR-ICRAF; Director General, CIFOR; Director, Global Landscapes Forum; and Managing Director, Resilient Landscapes. “In this MoU, we expect to conduct collaborative research into landscape restoration, bioenergy and other mutually agreed topics relevant to peatland and mangrove restoration, area reclamation, and renewable energy in Indonesia. And we will be actively seeking external partners interested in investing in this globally important research.”

These efforts will also contribute to the Faculty of Forestry’s goal of becoming one of the world’s leading universities through mutually beneficial and strengthened cooperation with various organizations –government, non-government and private – both from within and outside the country.

Kunming welcomes world to collaborate on Mountain Futures

Photo by wirestock on Freepik

Experts and practitioners from across the globe are descending on Kunming, China from April 16 – 18 for what’s set to be a landmark event for the sustainable development of mountain regions. The Third Mountain Futures Conference will be an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences and develop strategies for a more sustainable future.

“Mountain Futures is not an idea derived from mountain regions but from people’s hearts and minds living outside the mountains,” said Xu Jianchu, Director of the Mountain Futures Centre and a scientist at CIFOR-ICRAF. “Our conference will bring together novel ideas and innovations from leading experts around the world to target mutually beneficial sustainable development of mountain areas. We hope to lay out future scenarios that will lead to empowerment by design for the communities that call mountain regions home.”

The conference will take place at the Kunming World Expo Horti-Garden’s conference centre and will feature a range of plenary and parallel sessions, workshops, and exhibitions, to showcase innovations and initiatives in sustainable development.

A range of partners is hosting the event, including the Centre for Mountain Futures (CMF), the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS),  the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretariat of United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Centre for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR).

The Third Mountain Futures Conference guest pass. Photo: The Centre for Mountain Futures.

The conference aims to set out a “Roadmap for Mountain Futures” to guide policymakers and influence future legislation relating to the development of the world’s mountain regions while also highlighting the importance of these precious areas.

Xu hopes that “the relationships and partnerships forged during the event will lead to positive change for rural communities in mountain areas.”

Scientific exploration will be a key area of focus for the conference, which will feature discussions on the latest research and technologies in areas such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, sustainable energy, environmental protection and agricultural techniques.

Another important theme will be ecological restoration. With ecosystems worldwide facing unprecedented threats, the conference will provide a platform for experts to discuss and showcase innovative approaches to restoring and conserving ecosystems, including forest and wetland restoration and strategies for addressing issues such as land degradation and desertification.

Indigenous wisdom will also be a key area of discussion for the conference. Indigenous Peoples have long-standing traditions and knowledge systems that can provide valuable insights into sustainable development. The conference will provide an opportunity for them to share their experiences and knowledge, and for experts to learn from them and incorporate their perspectives into sustainable development strategies.

Participants will also look at future living, with presentations and discussions on green technologies, environmental education, coexisting with wildlife and innovations in textile production and sustainable agriculture.

Find more information about the Third Mountains Futures Conference and other related content on the Mountain Futures website.

Media contact:
Azzura Lalani
Global Head of Outreach and Engagement CIFOR-ICRAF

Supporting revegetation on the island of Sumba

Part of Sumba Timur during the wet season. Photo: ICRAF/Robert Finlayson.

CIFOR-ICRAF and two NGOs on the island of Sumba, Indonesia have signed agreements to collaborate on landscape restoration through forestry and agroforestry.

Yayasan Injuwatu Sumba (YIS) and Lembaga Peduli Sejahtera dan Lestari (PELITA Sumba) have signed memoranda of understanding with the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).

“The two MoUs represent a formalization of our mutual objective to revegetate the island of Sumba,” said Robert Nasi, acting Chief Executive Officer of CIFOR-ICRAF and Director General of CIFOR. “Sumba is an extreme case of degradation of tropical dryland caused by deforestation. Bringing international expertise to join with the expert local knowledge held by the two Sumba NGOs will add impetus to our mutual interest in marshalling resources to regreen the island and improve the welfare of the people, who are among the poorest in Indonesia.”

Sumba was once known as Sandalwood Island owing to its former coverage with high-value sandalwood forests, which despite surviving selective harvesting for hundreds of years by the Dutch colonial authorities, were almost totally destroyed in the early 2000s by mass extraction, leaving behind only 10% of forest cover on the island’s 11,006 km2.

“We all share similar interest in the forestry and land-use sector, agriculture and climate-smart agroforestry, food security, community and economic development, climate change, environmental restoration and renewable energy,” said Himlal Baral, a Senior Restoration Scientist who is leading the collaboration for CIFOR-ICRAF.

The main objectives of the collaboration are primarily to cooperate on community development programmes, implement such programmes to restore landscapes and increase incomes of assisted communities in the operational areas of the partners and to enable the partners to cooperate in preparing proposals for donors and investors.

More information:

Chinese and Laotian research institutes sign memorandum of understanding on mountain futures

KIB professor and ICRAF Country Director, Xu Jianchu (fourth from left) and NAFRI director general Chay Bounphanousay (sixth from right) display copies of the signed MoU. Photo: National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, Laos.

By Beinn Purvis

Delegates from the Mountain Futures Centre and representatives of Laos’ National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mountain futures, agriculture science and technology development at an event from 15-17 March.

The MoU aims to deepen agricultural cooperation between China and Laos, promote friendly exchanges between the two countries, and further expand the influence of China’s scientific and technological innovation in Laos.

The Mountain Futures Centre is a joint collaboration between the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences and CIFOR-ICRAF.

The signing received attention and support from the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and was witnessed by Dr Chanthakhone Bualaphanh, Deputy Director General of NAFRI, among other key leaders.

NAFRI is an institution under the Laos Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry that engages in sustainable development in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and mountainous areas. It has rich experience in agricultural breeding, rubber cultivation, forestry promotion, animal husbandry production, farmer training, agricultural product processing training, and prevention and control of agricultural and forestry diseases and pests.

Xu Jianchu, a professor at KIB who led the four-person Chinese delegation, said during the signing ceremony that Yunnan and Laos are regions dominated by mountainous areas and agriculture, with a high degree of similarity in terms of ecological environment, ethnicity and culture, climate, vegetation, and agricultural systems: and that as such there is great potential for cooperation and research between the two countries.

Under the MoU, Jianchu said the KIB plans to leverage its staff’s technical expertise in highland agriculture and sustainable mountain development to collaborate closely with NAFRI on the national implementation of the new Mountain Futures Action Plan.

Participants and presenters in the Mekong rubber development seminar. Photo: National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, Laos.

Launched in December 2022 during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties (CBD COP15) and sitting under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the plan defines 15 actions for signatories to take in mountain landscapes in order to prioritise biodiversity protection and recognize the role of conservation in protecting human health. KIB and NAFRI plan to conduct pragmatic cooperation in areas such as germplasm resource protection, seed industry innovation, breeding of improved varieties, agroforestry system construction, and circular ecological agriculture.

Phommy Inthichach, Deputy Director General of Planning and Finance at the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, fondly recalled his 2018 visit to Yunnan with the NAFRI delegation when the Honghe Mountain Futures Innovation Centre was established, and expressed heartfelt joy at the achievements of the Centre thus far.

Bouthong Bouahom, former Director General of NAFRI, member of the World Academy of Sciences, and president of the Lao Rubber Association, said that agricultural cooperation between China and Laos is an integral part of the countries’ relationship. A rubber substitution project, initiated through the countries’ cooperation to incentivize alternatives to opium cultivation, has become a pillar of Laos’ agricultural industry, and the opening of the China-Laos railway has turned Laos from “landlocked to land-linked,” he said.

Meanwhile, Laos has become an important player in China’s cooperation with the Mekong Subregion and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Bouahom expressed hope that the MoU will further strengthen the mechanisms facilitating cooperation on mountain agriculture, deepen agricultural technology exchanges, and bring new opportunities for Laos’ sustainable agrarian development, thus further increasing the contribution of agriculture to Laos’ economic growth.

The KIB delegation also ran a seminar, in collaboration with NAFRI, entitled ‘Sustainable Rubber Development in the Lower Mekong Region’ and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme. Representatives from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Vientiane, the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) and the president of the Lao Rubber Association attended.

The representatives conducted in-depth exchanges on commercial and sustainable rubber planting practices and industry chains for small farmers, explored issues of common concern related to rubber planting and cultivation, and proposed research topics on “zero-carbon rubber” and “green rubber plantations” in the context of biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.

CIFOR-ICRAF leadership calls for more investment to reverse climate destruction

CIFOR-ICRAF leadership highlighted the urgent need for inclusive finance and innovative solutions at the 6th GLF Investment Case Symposium in Luxembourg on 7 March 2023.

Incoming CIFOR-ICRAF CEO Éliane Ubalijoro spoke at the closing plenary “New ways forward: How can the financial ecosystem sustain and restore nature,” bringing attention to important work being done globally and calling for greater collective action.

“It is not just about mobilizing finance. It is about inclusive finance and ensuring that everyone has access to it,” she said. “As we learned today, we need to continue developing ‘tried and tested’ as well as innovative financial instruments to mobilize new sustainable finance.”

And ad interim ICRAF Director General Ravi Prabhu also spoke in the same plenary, emphasizing the need for a stewardship economy.

“The way we farm our lands and mismanage our forests is literally killing our planet. It’s also killing our farmers,” he said.

“Our investments must focus on the stewards … especially those in Indigenous communities, who are caring for the land and our futures,” he said. “A transition to a stewardship economy and investments that reflect care and reward a duty of care will help find the balance between nurture and use, of nature and humans alike.”

CEO ad interim and CIFOR Director General Robert Nasi spoke at the opening plenary “How do we reach the sustainable finance tipping point?”, addressing the greening of finance, the shortage of financing available to developing countries, and the still-rampant greenwashing by finance giants.

“We know that the financial sector has been a key driver responsible for the multiple crises we are facing today … but we also know that it has the potential to be an important part of the solution of these crises,” he said.

“At CIFOR-ICRAF, we believe that nature-based solutions are a sound investment. And while the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next one is now,” he said.


The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2023 regarding joint activities.

The MoU sets out a common understanding of the shared goals and areas of collaboration in five areas. The first area, technical cooperation, includes joint activities in two thematic areas: forests and socio-economic contributions, and forest restoration, reducing forest degradation and enhancing forest ecosystem functions. The other areas are capacity development for forestry practitioners, researchers and others from developing economies to improve their technical and academic capacities related to the two thematic areas; exchange of information and participation in joint awareness-raising activities through technical workshops, meetings and seminars; secondment of staff between each the two organizations based on needs and interests; and collaboration in other areas as mutually agreed.

“We are very happy to be working together with APFNet,” said Robert Nasi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ad interim of CIFOR-ICRAF. “Our combined expertise in the two critical research areas will help push forward the agendas and bolster achievement of each partner’s goals.”

Dr Lu De, Executive Director of APFNet, said that the collaboration of the two organizations will bring new opportunities in the future. He suggested that two organizations can explore ways to support developing economies through capacity-building programmes and staff exchanges.

The collaboration in capacity building will take advantage of CIFOR-ICRAF’s expertise in training to support young researchers, including through the secondments’ mechanism and internships. Regional learning events will be jointly organized for in-person or online participation. Joint research projects will be conducted. The partners will also enjoy mutual participation as observers of each other’s main activities and meetings of APFNet.

APFNet is an international organization and collective network dedicated to advancing sustainable forest management and forest rehabilitation in the Asia-Pacific region. Its establishment was proposed by China in cooperation with Australia and the United States and adopted at the Fifteenth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders Meeting in September 2007. APFNet was formally launched in 2008. Guided by strategic plans spanning 2011–2015, 2016–2020 and 2021–2025, APFNet has helped its member economies and organizations promote sustainable forest management and rehabilitation through capacity building, demonstration projects, policy dialogues, and information sharing, which are the four key pillars of APFNet’s activities.

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