Expanding access to environmental finance - Reversing the decline in forest ecosystem services

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In Senegal, the degradation of the forests impacts many local communities, particularly those that are vulnerable, through the loss of access to certain services that the forest ecosystems provide and which are vital for the livelihoods and wellbeing of the population. In addition, inadequate and inefficient regulatory measures are also impacting the health of forest ecosystems.

The aim of the Joint Programme was to find alternative options which could improve and sustain the usage of the services provided by forest ecosystems with the ultimate goal to successfully reverse the trend of forest degradation with an equitable economic instrument (i.e. an eco-taxation mechanism and compensation scheme) which could also help improve the lives of the most vulnerable population living and depending on forest ecosystem goods and services.

The Joint Programme was managed by seven UN agencies with the support of the United Nations Development Action Framework (UNDAF) to support sustainable development, the protection of natural resources and food security.

The UNDAF is a programme between a government and the United Nations Country Team that describes the collective action and strategies of the United Nations to the achievement of national development. The overall aim of the Joint Programme was to mainstream environmental sustainability through the improvement of forest ecosystems services, recognizing the Government’s poverty alleviation activities and at the same time developing economic instruments for the sustainable management of the forest ecosystem.


Originally, the targeted project sites were selected based on a sample of specific criteria, including the status of forest resources and the accessibility to a vulnerable population. All stakeholders (UN agencies, regional and communal councils, local communities, Government agencies, and civil society) took part in the selection process. Due to the need to adapt and facilitate the implementation of “new environmental policy tools” with the decentralized policy of the country, seven administrative regions were selected.

The Programme was managed by a Technical Committee and a Pilot Committee, which meets once a year, and is composed of a UN representative and the Director of AECID (the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency) who were in charge of the technical orientation and of the major decisions of the Joint Programme and its supervision. The Programme was also innovative in setting up a scientific panel in charge of reviewing some of the critical outputs.


  • The national and local capacity within the Technical Committee of the Ministry of Ecology and other specialized institutions has been improved with a better understanding of the links between forest ecosystems, their services and poverty related issues.

Reference tools and approaches have been adapted and used both for assessing status and trends and the key drivers of forest ecosystems and their services.

  • The national institution can now better conduct regular assessments of the changes in forest ecosystems and their services for adjusting national policies.
  • Indeed, in order to find sustainable solutions and to reverse the degradation of the country’s ecosystems, Senegal has undertaken various initiatives, including the economic valuation of the forest ecosystems.


The first and main challenge of this project was the need to rely on the “political will” needed to facilitate the adoption and implementation of the necessary “tools” (i.e. an eco- taxation scheme) for a solution. There was also a need to develop functional links with internationally recognized institutions, or organizations which could provide support on some high level technical issues related to the methodology and tools needed.

Way Forward

There is an urgent need to design a future Programme to support and strengthen the initial findings and help sustain implementation of the new forest management policy tools. There is also a need for high-level advocacy to institutionalize a regular assessment process of forest ecosystems and their services at different levels of the decision-making process for a more effective policy and effective management tools.

Read more about this JP on the MDG-F website.

Lessons Learnt

Lessons already prepared with the form, to be improved:

Proposed lessons to be elaborated further using the form:

  • The project is interesting in any point of view, but its implementation was made difficult by its own characteristics (innovative character of the conveyed concepts, the absence of familiarity with concepts related to forest ecosystem services, the innovative character of the joint approach, the very reduced duration (three years) for a such experimental project, etc.).
  • The project showed that environment’s future is related to the development of new markets which are going to concern particular forest ecosystem services as that was the case with carbon market. In any case, a better knowledge of forest ecosystem services will allow to better face these new markets, what was not the case with carbon market.
  • The synergy between National and UN Agencies in charge of PASEF activities was facilitated with rotating meetings. It also allows to improve national expertise.

Further lessons mentioned in the first session of the Week in Focus (to be elaborated further using the form):

  • Programmatic schedule of the project implementation: It is recommended for future similar intervention, a six month inception phase with the involvement of only the leading agency and the national coordination unit. This initial phase with the support from QSA might help better finalize the project log frame and set appropriate inter agencies input-output temporal relationships. (Theme: Project Design)
  • Delivering as ONE: As the majority of the involved staff is being recruited for the specific project, it might be helpful to plan an introductory workshop with focus on the practical design of “delivering as one”. National counterpart should be part of such strategic event, as they are expected to play significant “facilitator role” in the achievement of “delivering as one”. (Theme: Project Design)
  • Institutional design of the JP Identification/selection of national partners institutions: Priorities should be given to national institutions with a demonstrated experience in the project expected achievement. Elsewhere, and as far as possible, requirement of full time involvement staff might be determinant key of the quality and efficiency in the implementation. (Theme: Partnerships with Governments)

Week in Focus

Lessons Learnt

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