Legality and Transparency in Forestry
13 mayo, 2022
The global economic crisis in 2008 was a turning point for Reforestamos México, leading to internal renewal and a new way of influencing the environment. After a process of realignment and institutional renewal, it was defined that one of the strategic lines to address was influencing public and private policies. This led to a series of initiatives aimed at modifying the institutional and normative ecosystem to promote and facilitate the competitiveness of forest ecosystems, creating enabling conditions for the forestry sector to thrive.
In 2012, in collaboration with the Forest Legality Alliance and with the support of the World Resources Institute (WRI) International, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), we organized dialogues on “Forest Legality and International Trade: A Regional Perspective.” Some relevant conclusions obtained from this meeting were the need to improve forestry procedures, strengthen the traceability of raw materials, and enhance the transparency of public information. From these needs in the forestry sector, Reforestamos México’s agenda has focused on these lines of work.
In terms of transparency in public information, two initiatives can be highlighted: In 2016, in partnership with civil society organizations CartoCrítica and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), the “Bosques Abiertos” (Open Forests) platform was developed. Through this platform, people could access information about our forests, providing a snapshot of their state at that time. One of the most important findings obtained through this platform was identifying the lack of consistency in the information, preventing the creation of accurate maps of the location of lands authorized for land-use change. The Bosques Abiertos website remained active for three years; currently, it is no longer accessible. However, as a result of this project, a document was generated that makes some recommendations to improve the transparency of the sector, and it earned us second place in the Civil Society Organizations category of the 2019 Innovation in Transparency Award.
On the other hand, since 2019 and in collaboration with CartoCrítica, Causa Natura, and the Fund for Communication and Environmental Education, we developed the methodology to generate the Natural Resources Transparency Index (ITRN). This index allows measuring the level of transparency on public information about forest, water, and fishing resources. The first evaluation was conducted in 2020, and the authorities obtained an overall score of0.29 out of 1; the second in 2021 had a result of 0.52/1. The improvement in the result was largely due to the federal government integrating the ITRN as one of its commitments in the Open Government Alliance. Through working sessions between civil society organizations and public institutions, a work plan with indicators reflecting how to improve information was agreed upon.
An initiative related to improving administrative procedures in the forestry sector was the realization of the National Forestry Management System Diagnoses in 2020 and 2021 by Reforestamos México, supported by the United States Forest Service (USFS) and with the support of USAID. The purpose of these diagnoses was to document opportunities within the sector. A technical proposal for adjustments to improve the processes performed in the system was presented, along with another document analyzing and making recommendations to implement a traceability mechanism.
It is worth noting that since 2009, we have been part of the Comité Técnico de Legislación y Vigilancia Forestal del Consejo Nacional Forestal (CONAF), where legislative proposals and public policy are analyzed. It is a space where various actors in the forestry sector make proposals to improve the regulatory framework, and Reforestamos has managed to emphasize the importance of improving regulations in terms of legality, traceability, transparency, and forestry entrepreneurship.
Emilio Cruz Sánchez, Director of Alliances for Advocacy at Reforestamos México, comments, “Having an advocacy agenda that monitors issues of legality, transparency, and traceability has allowed us to focus energies and achieve results that can really be seen in the regulatory framework and public policies.”