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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

450 million per year needed for external environmental action

FERN, WWF and Birdlife briefing urging the European Parliament to ensure sufficient funding for the Thematic Programme for the Environment and Natural Resources. The NGOs ask for an allocation of EUR 450 million a year for this external relations programme during the period during 2007-2013.
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Forest platform issue 9

Platform Debates

1. Cameroon: Support Programme for Non-State Actors – Civil society has its say
2. African, Caribbean and Pacific CSP process starts
3. EP votes for a separate and clearly defined Development Co-operation Instrument for the EU
4. EC aid for forests and environment
5. The EC has no strategy to address environmental issues in cooperation
6. African farmers say NO to EPAs

7. FLEGT Update
8. State of play of the FLEGT VPAs

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Information on the Programming of EC Aid for ACP countries: Will the EU deliver on its promises?

Briefing paper prepared by the Concord Cotonou Working Group, which includes FERN, to facilitate the lobbying and participation of civil society organisations in the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the forthcoming processes of EC Aid Programming.
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Joint NGO statement on the rationalisation of the EC’s thematic funding instruments in the field of external relations

The joint NGO statement seeks to draw together some overarching and common concerns about the process and governance of the EC's thematic programmes.
NGOs hold to these main principles:
  • Rationalisation of the thematic programs should lead to more efficiency and more effective delivery of aid;
  • Rationalisation of the thematic programs should be coherent with geographic and other programs and instruments;
  • Rationalisation of the thematic programs should be consistent with the new Development Policy Statement and other EU development principles;
  • Each thematic program should address the cross cutting issues of Gender, Children, Human Rights (including the right to food), HIV and AIDS, and Environment.
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Forestwatch Issue 8

Platform Debates

1. Cameroon: Red card against corruption, not to impunity
2. The EC-Indonesia FLEGT Support Project: update
3. Does the EC do enough for Indonesian Forests?

News  on
4. EU approves FLEGT regulation
5. Cameroon: civil society ready for FLEGT VPA

News from around the World

6. UN supports Saami dispute over state forest ownership
7. Europe and North Asia (ENA) FLEG, Now What?


8. Understanding EU intricacies: new briefings and publications
9. What is the EC Forest Platform?
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Joint NGO submision on the EC Thematic Programme on Environment and Natural Resources

Joint NGO submission in response to the Commission Issues paper “Towards a Thematic Programme for Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the Context of the 2007-2013 Financial Perspectives (September 2005)”.

The document sets out the NGOs position on what should be the overall purpose of the Thematic programme and proposes an overarching framework, with concrete goals, objectives and activities, all of which will enable the EU to play a leadership role in the global arena.
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