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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

NGO letter urging the Commission to make CEPs public

Joint letter by FERN, WWF, Birdlife, ICCO and IFAW to Commissioners Louis Michel, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Margot Wallstrom urging them to make Country and Regional Environmental Profiles (CEPs/REPs) public at the Commission webpage.

Answer from the European Commission.

Court of Auditor's Report: The environmental aspects of the Commission's development co-operation

This Briefing Note summarises the European Court of Auditors’ findings on the lack of environmental protection into projects dealing with co-operation between the European Community and developing countries. The findings of this latest report are not new and detail the limited success of attempts to tackle the problem. The report concludes with a recommendation that the Commission should establish a comprehensive environmental strategy for its development aid.

Forest platform news issue 10

1. Integrating environmental issues into EC co-operation with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries
2. The European Parliament splits the Development instrument
3. New legal framework for funding human rights projects
4 No self-standing legal framework for promoting the environment

5. FLEGT process continues
6. FLEGT Projects: Experts’ meeting on Verification in the Forest Sector

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Integrating environmental issues in the next round of co-operation agreements between the EU and ACP countries

FERN and ICCO Briefing Note to facilitate lobbying by civil society organisations wanting to advocate the integration of environmental issues into the next round of co-operation agreements between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Intégration des questions environnementales dans le prochain cycle d’accords de coopération entre l’UE et les pays ACP
Cette Note d’information a été préparé par FERN et ICCO en vue de faciliter le plaidoyer des organisations de la société civile désireuses de soutenir l’intégration des questions environnementales dans le prochain d’accords de coopération entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique.
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Joint NGO letter to the Director of DG Development on integration of environmental concerns in the EC aid programme

FERN, Birdlife and WWF letter urging the European Commission to ensure that crosscutting issues causing and effecting poverty, such as environmental degradation and human rights abuses, are incorporated in the EC bilateral co-operation strategies with countries and regions and in the EC thematic co-operation strategies.
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10th EDF: What will be left for sustainable human and social development in ACP countries?

Joint NGO letter to European Ministers of Development and Finance in the run up to the ACP-EU Council of Ministers in Port Moresby on 1-2 June 2006. the NGOs demand the EU to live up to its responsibility towards ACP countries by ensuring that the 10th EDF focuses on sustainable human and social development, with particular attention to issues such as the environment and the promotion of gender equality and human rights.
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