Congo Basin Forest Fund

Congo Basin Forest Fund


The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) was a multi-donor fund set up in June 2008 to take early action to protect the forests in the Congo Basin region. Its aim was to support transformative and innovative projects to be complemented to existing activities, which were supposed to develop the capacity of people and institutions of the Congo Basin to enable them to preserve and manage their forests. It provided a source of accessible funding, and encouraged governments, civil society, NGOs and the private sector to work together to share specific expertise. In November 2014 the British and Norwegian governments announced that they would not be releasing outstanding commitments to the fund. The CBFF has been closed since 2018.

Basic Description

Name of the Fund Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF)
Official Fund Website
Date Created
Date fund proposed: June 2008
Date fund made operational: June 2008
Proposed Life of Fund The CBFF operated over a period of 10 years, 2008-2018.

On the 7th of November 2014, the UK and Norway Governments announced that the remaining commitments to the fund (approximately EUR 19.4 million) would not be released and that they would not replenish the resources of the CBFF.

Objectives The CBFF’s aim was to alleviate poverty and address climate change through reducing the rate of deforestation. Its purpose was to provide grants to eligible entities for activities that:

  • Slow and eventually reverse the rate of deforestation in the Congo Basin
  • Provide support mechanisms which conserve the forests
  • Maintain benefits to local communities
  • Mobilise additional financial resources to support required actions.
Financial inputs and fund size The UK, Norway and Canada provided the initial funding of about EUR 133 million for the design and delivery of projects up to the end of 2018. During the first call for proposals in 2008, projects were funded for a total amount of about EUR 15 million. The second call for proposals took place between 2009 and 2010. 12 project proposals were funded for EUR 11.2 million and 13 government’s proposals were endorsed for about EUR 52 million.

The financial contributors included Canada, Norway, UK and the USA.

CBFF’s financial inputs were official development assistance (ODA).

Activities Supported The CBFF supported activities aligned with the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) Convergence Plan, a common regional strategy adopted by the Head of States of Central Africa in 2005 for the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, of resource knowledge, alternative livelihood activities and funding mechanisms, and poverty alleviation. Thus the CBFF support focused on:

  • Sustainable Forest Management
  • Livelihood and Economic Development
  • Monitoring, Assessment and Verification
  • Benefits from an International REDD Regime and Payments for Ecosystem Services
  • Capacity Building in REDD.

Administrating Organization

Secretariat or Administrative Unit A Secretariat was responsible for the day to day management of the Fund and the initial assessment of proposals. A temporary Secretariat operated in Tunis at the African Development Bank (AfDB); supported by government officials based at the UK Department for International Development (DFID), until the permanent AfDB CBFF Secretariat was established.
Trustee The African Development Bank was the permanent trustee for CBFF.

Fund Finance and Access Modalities

Conditions and Eligibility Requirements Eligibility for financing from CBFF resources was limited to COMIFAC member countries (Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe and Chad). COMIFAC member countries were also eligible to participate as contributors to the Fund.
Accessing the Fund
Access Modalities – Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, technical partners, civil society networks, and others, were able to access the CBFF by submitting Concept Notes to the Secretariat through two calls for proposals (2008 and 2009-2010) that were approved by the Governing Council. The Secretariat provided assistance to applicants to develop full project proposals.
Financial Instruments – Grants.
Accreditation process – All projects were assessed against the following criteria:

  1. Innovation
    • How innovative is the proposal?
    • How transformative is the proposal?
  2. Conformity with CBFF’s overall objectives
    • Will the project slow the rate of deforestation?
    • Will the project reduce poverty amongst forest communities?
    • Does the project show a clear understanding of context?
  3. Conformity with convergence plan
    • Does the proposal conform with one or more of the agreed priority Strategic Areas of the COMIFAC Convergence Plan:
      1. Knowledge of the resource;
      2. Poverty reduction;
      3. New funding mechanisms.
Overview of implementing entities – Implementing entities included national government agencies, NGOs (ex. ANDEGE), research organisations (ex. Bioversity International), civil society organisations (ex. Comité pour le Développement de Manguen II), and international organisations (ex. FAO).
Nature of recipient country involvement – As a main vehicle for innovative transformation, the CBFF was intended to enhance collaboration among Central African governments, regional institutions, COMIFAC, Congo Basin technical partners and international donors.
Allocation criteria
Safeguards, Gender and Indigenous Peoples
Safeguards – The CBFF did not have specific safeguards, but it adhered to those of the African Development Bank (AfDB). The 2004 AfDB’s Policy on the Environment has no specific guidance on REDD+ but it highlights the need to integrate social and environmental concerns into economic development policies to reduce negative externalities.
Gender – All programmes were subject to the AfDB’s gender policy. The CBFF was therefore committed to follow the AfDB’s guiding principles on gender/women’s empowerment:

  • Gender analysis as an integral part of all programmes
  • Attention paid to the co-operative relations between women and men
  • Women’s economic empowerment considered as key to sustainable development
  • Women not considered to be a homogeneous group
  • A strategic choice made on the use of the mainstreaming strategy/targeted inputs.
Indigenous Peoples – The CBFF did not have a formal a formal IP policy and while it adhered to the AfDB’s Safeguard Policy, the AfDB was and is still the only multilateral development bank without a standalone safeguard policy on Indigenous Peoples. However, recent developments show an increasing recognition that Indigenous Peoples are a vulnerable group with specific rights and that warrants special attention.

Fund Governance

Decision Making Structure In the CBFF, decisions were taken by the Governing Council.

The Governing Council had been established to provide strategic guidance and oversight of the Fund, and ensure broad donor and stakeholder participation. The core membership of the Governing Council was comprised of:

  • A Fund Co-chair – Rt Honourable Mr Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada
  • A Civil Society representative from the region
  • The Secretary General of the Economic Community of Central Africa States (CEEAC)
  • The President of the Central African Forest Commission (Commission des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale – COMIFAC) (rotational)
  • A Senior AfDB Official (Vice President)
  • A Donor Representative.

The Governing Council also included the following ex-officio members:

  • The COMIFAC Executive Secretary
  • A representative from UNEP
  • A representative from the Norwegian Government
  • A representative from the UK Government
  • A representative of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership
Accountability Mechanisms The 2009 Operational procedures document reported that the operations of the CBFF would be undertaken in accordance with a Results-Based Management (“RBM”) approach, where expected results formed the basis for project/programme identification, preparation, appraisal and reporting. These procedures included a section on ‘Monitoring & Evaluation and Supervision of Project Implementation’, which was based on the following indicators, as stated in the CBFF Logical Framework Matrix:

  • Reduction of the average rate of deforestation in the Congo Basin from 0.19% to 0.10% annually by sunset date of CBFF.
  • Increased incomes for forest people by at least the rate of GDP growth per annum.
  • Reduced logging density rates from 0.5 to 4 (CBFP 2006) trees per hectare to 0.5 to 2 trees per hectare subject to the determination of baselines and full economic and scientific analysis.
  • Doubling of community-owned and administered forest lands in the Basin, subject to establishment of baselines, robust models and positive economic, social and environmental impact assessment.
  • Introduction of at least two policy measures to reduce forestry related revenue losses by 50% over the programme period from current levels of USD 25 million (EUR 20 million) per year (WB/WWF, 2003).

Within three months of project completion, all recipients were to submit a Project Completion Report (“PCR”) on the implementation of all project activities. The report had to clearly state the outcomes in relation to the objectives and performance indicators. The CBFF Secretariat reviewed it, and where necessary, it did supplement PCRs with material from monitoring missions (undertaken by staff of the AfDB), mid-term reviews and final project evaluations.

As of February 2013, CBFF staff was working to define a new CBFF logical framework, and developed a monitoring and evaluation system which allowed CBFF stakeholders to assess the results at fund level. In this regard, the Canadian Agency for International Development Agency (CIDA) organised a workshop in January 2013 which aimed to develop a new log frame and a new M&E system that can be used by all CBFF stakeholders and facilitate reporting on CBFF achievements/results for both future and on-going operations. It was decided that the revision of the log frame requires a participatory approach involving all stakeholders.

As of February 2013, 21 project appraisal reports were publicly available. Each included project description, project economic, financial, environmental and social feasibility, implementation arrangements, the completed CBFF Logical Framework Matrix, and a legal framework with terms and conditions of the grant agreement.

Participation of Observers and Stakeholders Consultations with a broad range of stakeholders including NGOs were undertaken prior to the establishment of the Fund.

The Governing Council was in charge of ensuring broad donor and stakeholder participation.

Transparency and Information Disclosure Information on donor contributions and a list of projects and the amounts were available on the CBFF website. The financial status of projects, however, was publicly disclosed solely on the AfDB website, although this disclosure only included the projects of the first call for proposals and not the second.
Other Issues Raised The CBFF was cancelled based on concerns regarding the governance of the fund. In 2014, the UK evaluated the fund’s governance as “’inconsistent’ and not of the highest standard”. The decision was made by UK and Norway to back out of CBFF in 2014 and to replace it by a new fund. The Central Africa Forest Initiative was created for this purpose in 2015.