Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI)

Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI)


Launched during the 2015 United Nations General Assembly, the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) is a collaborative partnership that gathers the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, six Central African partner countries and a coalition of donors. Its aim is to support governments in the region to implement reforms and enhance investments to halt drivers of tropical deforestation. Focusing on Central African high-forest cover countries, the Initiative supports country-level efforts for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) and low emission development investments to mitigate climate change and reduce poverty.

Basic Description

Name of the Fund Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI)
Official Fund Website https://www.cafi.org/
Date Created
Date fund proposed: 2014
Date fund made operational: 2015
Proposed Life of Fund The Fund started on September 2015 and will be operational until December 2027.
Objectives CAFI’s objectives are to catalyse high-level policy dialogue and scaled-up funding to support ambitious reforms and on the ground action to reduce forest-related emissions and poverty. Furthermore, the Initiative aims to recognise and preserve the value of the forests in the Central African region to mitigate climate change, reduce poverty and contribute to sustainable development.
Financial inputs and fund size As of December 2020, the Fund has a cumulative pledge of USD 493 million.

The seven countries/organisations contributing to CAFI are: France (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international Development), Norway (the Ministry of Climate and Environment), Germany (the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), United Kingdom (the Department for International Development), the Netherlands (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), South Korea (the Korea Forest Service) and the European Union (the European Commission).

Financial inputs to the Fund are included as official development assistance (ODA).

Activities Supported CAFI supports activities that address and mitigate the role and impact of direct or indirect drivers of deforestation. Specifically, CAFI supports national actions that combine:

  • Sustainable agricultural practices towards less land conversion and increased food security
  • Sustainable alternatives to current wood energy practices
  • Enhanced capacity of forestry sector institutions and the legal frameworks to promote, monitor and enforce sustainable forest management
  • Future infrastructure and mining projects that minimise their overall footprint
  • Land use planning decisions that ensure a balanced representation of sectoral interests and keep forests standing
  • Better tenure security that does not incentivise conversion
  • Slower population growth and migration to forests
  • Better inter-ministerial coordination and governance resulting in the permit and fiscal regimes that do not push actors to forest conversion and illegal activities.

Administrating Organization

Secretariat or Administrative Unit The CAFI Secretariat is based in Geneva and is hosted by the UNDP. It is composed of a small number of staff from UNDP’s Climate and Forests Team and is responsible for:

  • Supporting the development and submission of National Investment Frameworks (NIFs)
  • Supporting strategic dialogue between partner countries, implementing organisations and the CAFI Executive Board
  • Supporting monitoring and evaluation efforts
  • Preparing and organising Executive Board meetings Managing knowledge and supporting South-South cooperation and exchange.
Trustee The UNDP’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF) acts as the permanent trustee.

Fund Finance and Access Modalities

Conditions and Eligibility Requirements Only Central African high-forest cover countries are eligible. These are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo.

Being an ODA eligible country is not stated as a mandatory requirement to access funding under the Initiative.

Accessing the Fund
Access Modalities – Formally recognised CAFI implementing organisations are the only organisations that have a direct access to funding, as outline in a revised version of the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference.

CAFI is implemented through four types of fund implementation modalities, namely

  1. Participating UN Organisations
  2. The World Bank
  3. International Cooperation Agencies (ICAs), which are largely the bilateral development agencies and banks of supporting donor countries
  4. Other implementing organisations (such as international Non-Governmental Organisations or research institutions invited by the Executive Board to sign an administrative support services agreement with UNDP.

The CAFI programming cycle for eligible countries to access CAFI funding is composed of four phases and is described as follows:

  1. “Partner countries develop and present their national investment frameworks addressing all drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
  2. Following a review of the national investment framework, the CAFI Executive Board agrees to support certain policy reforms and large scale programmes.
  3. Through a Letter of Intent, the CAFI Executive Board and the partner country government, represented by a government institution with interministerial coordination mandate, agree on time bound targets in policy reform and programmatic performance and the corresponding financial support by CAFI if jointly defined milestones are met.
  4. 4. Partner countries develop and implement programmes to achieve the milestones in the Letter of Intent with the support of implementing organisations”.
Financial Instruments – Grants.
Accreditation process – There is no formal accreditation process for participating UN organisations, the World Bank and ICAs action as implementing entities; however, other implementing organisations such as NGOs or research institutions have to be formally invited by the CAFI Executive Board to serve as implementing entities after signing a support service agreement with UNDP.
Overview of implementing entities – CAFI implementing entities include UN Organisations, the World Bank, International Cooperation Agencies and other organisations such as NGOs and research institutes.

The currently listed implementing organisations are:

  • the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • Enabel – Belgian Development Agency
  • FAO
  • Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
  • the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
  • UNDP
  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP)
  • World Bank
Nature of recipient country involvement – The partner countries play a prominent role in both the preparatory/programming phase and the implementing phase. The partner country is responsible for developing a National Investment Framework (NIF) that describes its national strategies, the key reforms and transformative changes the government intends to promote and how its objectives resonate with CAFI goals. The NIF is submitted to CAFI by the national government with the support of the implementation organisations. Once a funding allocation has been confirmed, the government and the implementation partner jointly develop CAFI programmes and the government appoints a “Responsible Governmental Party” acting as a liaison agency for the implementation phase.
Allocation criteria
Safeguards, Gender and Indigenous Peoples
Safeguards – The implementing organisations implement and manage their projects/programmes in accordance with their own regulations, rules and procedures. However, their activities need to be consistent with the safeguards approach set out in Annex 4 of the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference.
Gender – Recognised as one of the main development challenges of the Central African region, gender inequality considerations are integrated within the results framework of the Terms of Reference and the National Investment Frameworks. In order to integrate the gender perspective in CAFI activities, the following principles are set out:

  • The funds governing principles promote equitable access and benefits for women and men.
  • Gender mainstreaming will be included within the initiative’s operational guidelines.
  • Gender analysis will be included in the development of investment frameworks and investment programmes.
  • Women stakeholders will be consulted in the development programmes.
  • Technical, social and gender expertise is included throughout the whole planning and implementation process.
  • Sex-disaggregated baselines and indicators to measure effect on women are established.
  • Sufficient financial resources are allocated to adequately implement and follow up the gender perspective.

As of December 2020, however, only 17% of CAFI-funded programmes include gender issues in their design and have budgeted, mobilised expertise and reported how women, men and marginalised groups will be affected differently by – and approached to participate in – programme activities. An additional 78% of programmes meet at least one of these criteria.

Indigenous Peoples – CAFI does not have a formal Indigenous Peoples policy. However, CAFI requires its participants to respect the principles set out in Annex 4 of the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference:

  • Respect for the knowledge and rights of Indigenous Peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, and noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
  • The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

As of December 2020, one programme focuses specifically on Indigenous Peoples (Support to Indigenous Peoples to develop indigenous resource management models, DRC).

Fund Governance

Decision Making Structure The CAFI Executive Board (EB) is responsible for overall coordination with CAFI partner countries and decisions regarding the allocation of resources from the CAFI Fund.

Donor governments and other entities that have signed the CAFI Joint Declaration and have contributed funds are eligible to be members of the Executive Board.

The composition of the CAFI EB is ‘contributor-driven’ and the current members are:

  • Norway
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • The European Union
  • The Netherlands
  • South Korea
  • UNDP (on behalf of the UN Implementing Organisations, with voting rights on all matters except Fund allocation decisions)
  • UNDP MPTF Office (ex-officio).

The main responsibilities of the CAFI EB are:

  • Concluding Letters of Intent with partner countries as a mutual commitment
  • Approving quality criteria for the independent review of NIFs
  • Approving country funding allocations to NIFs
  • Reviewing performance targets with partner countries
  • Commissioning mid-term and final independent evaluations on the overall performance of the Fund.
Accountability Mechanisms The implementing organisations have to provide the CAFI Secretariat and the UNDP MPTF Office with narrative progress reports and financial annual statements. In addition, they need to prepare results-oriented and evidence based annual and final reports. The Secretariat is responsible for consolidating the data reported and the CAFI EB is in charge of reviewing the overall progress against expected results.

The CAFI EB has commissioned an independent evaluation on the overall performance of the Fund. This evaluation has started in 2019 and is ongoing. Another independent evaluation is expected at the closure of the Fund in 2027.

As stated in the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference, CAFI intends to establish national grievance mechanisms where these have not already been developed in the national REDD+ process. However, little information is currently available regarding this matter.

Participation of Observers and Stakeholders The CAFI EB has two permanent observers, namely the FAO and the World Bank. Members of the CAFI EB can decide to grant observer status to other countries or entities to participate in CAFI EB meetings on a case-by-case basis.

An annual forum with all stakeholders is organised to update progress, share experience and obtain inputs. In 2018, the forum was held in Oslo with the objective to encourage discussions amongst regional stakeholders towards the co-construction of a “new approach to development, one where forest areas are effectively managed and protected, promoting sustainable and economic prosperity”.

In addition, the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference emphasise the importance of promoting inclusive participation of all stakeholders. For instance, in preparing their NIF, partner countries need to demonstrate that multi-stakeholders are included in the development and future implementation of the NIF. Furthermore, through its safeguards approach explained in Annex 4 of the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference, CAFI requires that all supported programmes commit to the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders.

This principle includes components such as:

  • The establishment of mechanisms or platforms to facilitate participatory processes during design, implementation and monitoring actions
  • The recognition and implementation of procedural rights, such as access to information, consultation and participation and provision of justice
  • Ensuring the transparency and accessibility of information.
Transparency and Information Disclosure CAFI’s approach to information disclosure is described in Section 10 of the CAFI Fund Terms of Reference.

Information posted by the UNDP MPTF as the administrative agent for CAFI on the initiative’s website includes: contributions received and from whom, Executive Board decisions, funds transferred, annual expenditures, summaries of proposed and approved programmes, the work plan and Fund progress reports on subjects such as fundraising and external assessment reports, including relevant information on Fund operations.

Furthermore, the CAFI website is tasked to provide updated and user-friendly information on CAFI’s governance structures, key decisions made, updates on the portfolio and dedicated country information.

The documents regarding CAFI EB meetings and decisions are made available at: https://www.cafi.org/content/cafi/en/home/events/cafi-executive-board-meetings-.html

The combined pledges and contributions made to the Fund are disseminated on the UNDP MPTF Office website.

Detailed information about individual projects can be found at: https://www.cafi.org/content/cafi/en/home/our-work/our-portfolio.html

Other Issues Raised