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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 platform issue 7

Platform debates

1. EC strategy for co-operation with Central Africa
2. The EC-Indonesia FLEGT Support Project
3. EU FLEGT update
4. Disagreements over Cotonou

New policies from the EU
5. New Framework for the EC Development Policy

News from around the World
6. Forest Watch Ghana initiated court case against the Ghanaian FC
7. Europe and North Asia (ENA) FLEG Ministerial preparations took off

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The OECD Arrangement and New Subsidies for Dams: The Case for Strengthened Standards

Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) have a long history of granting support for large dams in the South - often at great costs for the poorest sectors of society. The world’s most powerful ECAs have negotiated a special agreement within the OECD which will give dam builders additional subsidies to revive the hydro industry. In this report, FERN and The Corner House argue that privileged treatment for large dams must be conditional on projects complying with international best practice aiming at mitigating the negative impacts on people and environment.
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What’s in the European Commission’s FLEGT Action Plan?

FERN's EC Forest Platform briefing outlining the key issues of the EC FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Action Plan.

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Improving EC Aid in Indonesia

Pelibatan Masyarakat Sipil Indonesia dalam Skema Pendanaan Masyarakat Eropa di Sektor Kehutanan.
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Aid trace in the forest

A Telapak and FERN report reviewing the European Community development aid scheme in the forest sector in Indonesia.
Case study: South Central Kalimantan Production Forest Project.

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PDF iconBahasa Indonesian version722.02 KB

Forestwatch Issue 6

Platform debates

1. The EU finances the Cameroonian Independent Forest Observer
2. Update from Indonesia
3. FLEGT - In process
4. Renewed Cotonou Agreement
5. The EC needs to reinforece support to its delegations

New policies from the EU
6. EC Development Policy Statement on its way
7. EU financial framework 2007-2013 discussion continues
8. Uncertain future for the Environment and Forest budget line

News from around the World
9. Illegal timber shipment from the Amazon blocked in Portugal
10. Sarayacu asks oil company CGC to leave Ecuador

11. Understanding EU intricacies: new briefings and publications
12. What is the EC Forest Platform ?
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