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Development Aid

Fern’s aim is to improve the quality of EU and Member State aid so it contributes to the protection of forests and the recognition of forest peoples' rights.

Fern’s analysis:The European Union is by far the world’s largest donor. In 2013 the top 12 donors, in terms of the proportion of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) to Gross National Income, were European countries. European ODA increased from EUR 40.4 billion in 2002 to EUR 70.0 billion in 2012.EU ODA commitments for climate change mitigation increased more than four-fold between 2007 and 2011, reaching EUR 0.98 billion in 2011. The European country giving most aid was Norway and Germany was the Member State which spent the most on biodiversity. The element of ODA that went to forest-related projects also dramatically increased between 2002 and 2012, from EUR 130.2 million to EUR 493.2 million, while disbursements identified as biodiversity increased from EUR 74.8 million to EUR 329.6 million. Although this is all positive in principle, the increase in spending has often gone hand in hand with cuts in staff. Furthermore not all spending ensures that the rights of local people are being respected.

What Fern is doing: Fern has been working on this issue since 1995. Successes include ensuring that country environmental profiles (reports analysing the country's environmental situation) must now guarantee all aid programmes take ecological considerations and the rights of local communities into account. More recently our work has focused on effective implementation of the EU FLEGT Programme, funded by the European Commission and EU Member States (see

To learn more about this campaign:see history of the EC Forest Platform or Taking stock: Tracking trends in European Aid for forests and communities.

Most recent publications

Transparency and availability of EC aid documentation | a review

FERN, BirdLife and WWF study analysing the public availability of the environmental tools currently used in EC cooperation and aid plans, focussing on Country Environmental Profiles (CEPs), Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs).

Revised Strategy for the Integration of the Environment into EU Development Cooperation

FERN, WWF, BirdLife International and IUCN comments to the revision and updating of the Environment Integration Strategy for EU Development Cooperation.
PDF iconOPEN63.42 KB

Shared NGO concerns and proposals on the programming of EC Thematic Programmes

Joint NGO – including environment, development, human rights and migration – exercise with proposals for better programming. The document stresses that the process of programming is not just a technical matter and that the way to organise such a process has important political consequences, not least on the quality of the programmes and the level of public acceptance of policies.

Proposals are grouped into five sections covering the following:
  • Consultation and planning
  • Role for European NGOs
  • Complementarity with geographic programmes and global funds
  • Role of the European Parliament
  • A strengthened approach to cross-cutting issues
This document is a follow up of the January 2006 Joint NGO statement on the rationalisation of the EC's thematic funding instruments in the field of external relations.
PDF iconOpen795.95 KB

Provoking change - A toolkit for African NGOs

This Advocacy Toolkit is for local and national NGOs, but specifically for those based in West Africa, as the case studies and background information are focused on this region. This toolkit was produced by FERN at the request of a network of environmental NGOs in West Africa: the Green Actors of West Africa (GAWA).

PDF iconProvoquer le changement3.38 MB
PDF iconProvoking change3.29 MB

Integrating environmental issues in EU - ACP aid strategies

A Briefing Note prepared by FERN and WWF as background document for the workshop: “Why (not) mainstream? - A critical  assessment of the results of a decade of gender and environmental mainstreaming.” The purpose of the workshop is  to engage with different issue-based groups on the advantages  and disadvantages of mainstreaming in development cooperation.

On Shaky Ground: The involvement of civil society in the preparatory stage of the FLEGT support project

Telapak and FERN follow up the implementation of the FLEGT Support Project. This EC-funded project aims to tackle illegal logging and promote the role of forests in the sustainable development of Indonesia.

Previous briefings in this series: Finding solutions to illegal logging: civil society and the FLEGT Support Project (June 2005)
PDF iconOn Shaky Ground284.01 KB
PDF iconBahasa Indonesian version86.9 KB