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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

Forest loss and human health: focus on EU policies and practices

Forests make a huge contribution to human health. They provide food and medicine, and are an important component of traditional health systems. While it’s widely known that forests play a key role in mitigating climate change, in conserving soil and water quality, awareness of the impact on human health due to forest devastation and the loss of these
ecosystems is less widespread.

Cameroon: civil society ready for FLEGT VPA

27 Cameroonian civil society and indigenous peoples' organisations are calling, among others, on the government of Cameroon to guarantee the representation of national civil society and of indigenous peoples’ organisations in the preparation, negotiation and implementation of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement. Read:
  • FERN's note evaluating the involvement of Cameroonian civil society in the EU-Cameroon FLEGT VPA
  • Mechanisms enabling for the participation of all interested Cameroonian civil society groups in the VPA process (EN and FR)
  • Final declaration of Cameroonian civil society regarding the EU-Cameroon FLEGT VPA (EN and FR)

    Thematic Programme for environment and sustainable management of natural resources

    Joint NGO letter to the Director of DG Development outlining the key principles that the Commission should follow while defining its environment and natural resources thematic programme for EU external actions.
    PDF iconOPEN63.14 KB

    Letter to Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner on Good Governance of Natural Resources in Indonesia

    FERN and Telapak letter to the Commission Benita Ferrero-Waldner  asking for sufficient financial and political support under the next EC-Indonesia co-operation strategy to enable the good governance of natural resources, and particularly of forests.
    PDF iconOPEN61.41 KB

    Recommendations on the FLEGT Support Project

    Local NGO statement on the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Support Project - an EC-funded project aimed at tackling illegal logging and promoting the role of forests within Indonesia's sustainable development.
    PDF iconBahasa Indonesian version only123.74 KB

    A Trojan Horse for Large Dams

    Under the guise of an initiative to promote sustainable energy technologies, governments are about to grant subsidised export credits for hydropower projects.

    This report looks at the experience over the last ten years with dams financed with official export credits. It finds that these projects have had massive social and environmental impacts, including large-scale involuntary resettlement, human rights abuses, the loss of critical habitats of endangered species, and, in some cases, greenhouse gas emissions greater than those from thermal power plants. If the governments go ahead with their plan, they will turn an environmental effort into a Trojan horse for environmental destruction.
    PDF iconOPEN729.27 KB