Evaluation of Rainforest Foundation Norway’s advocacy efforts to counter international drivers of deforestation

Evaluation of Rainforest Foundation Norway’s advocacy efforts to counter international drivers of deforestation

Om publikasjonen

  • Utgitt: mai 2017
  • Serie: --
  • Type: Gjennomganger fra organisasjoner
  • Utført av: Svein Erik Hårklau, Natural Resource Management Services (NRM)
  • Bestilt av: --
  • Land:
  • Tema: Klima og miljø
  • Antall sider: 42
  • Serienummer: --
  • ISBN: --
  • ISSN: --
  • Organisasjon: : Rainforest Foundation Norway (Regnskogfondet)
  • Prosjektnummer: GLO-0850/ 07/ 387, GLO-0850 QZA-12/0764
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The most important drivers of tropical deforestation and forest degradation are the demands for natural resources found in forest areas and agricultural expansion into forest lands. RFN works to counter drivers of deforestation both within rainforest countries (through support to local partner organizations) and in so-called demand-side countries, which indirectly drive deforestation through consumption, trade and investments.

This evaluation focused on RFN’s advocacy efforts to reduce the demand in Norway and internationally for products and resources linked to rainforest destruction. The activities covered by the evaluation, carried out over the course of a decade, have been co-funded by several donors, most prominently Norad, Ford Foundation and Good Energies Foundation. From the relevant project documents, the evaluator summed up two main objectives for RFN’s work in this area:
Objective 1

Consumers, private sector and authorities in Norway are well informed about the threats to the tropical rainforests and the importance of conserving these.

Objective 2:

Consumption patterns, corporate practices and regulations in Norway and internationally have changed such that consumption, trade and investments contribute directly and indirectly to a significant reduction in deforestation in rainforest countries.

Purpose of the evaluation

  1. To demonstrate what outcomes/impact RFN’s advocacy generates and how (accountability)
  2. To foster internal capacity building and strategic development and planning (learning)


The Evaluation is based on document review and interviews.

  • Literature: Review of RFN funding proposals, reports and strategies as well as other documents related to rainforests, climate change or RFN’s work.
  • Interviews: RFN staff and representatives of various partners and target groups for RFN’s policy and advocacy work were interviewed.

Key findings and reccomendations

The two main objectives listed above were achieved, and important results were realised under all of the seven sub-targets. The awareness levels of deforestation and forest-dependent peoples among consumers, private sector companies and authorities in Norway were raised considerably and are likely at higher levels than in most other countries.

These awareness levels resulted in greater willingness to change consumption patterns, illustrated by the major reductions in imports of tropical timber and the dramatically reduced use of palm oil in the food industry in Norway.

Companies have become substantially more willing to change sourcing of raw materials and commodities linked to deforestation, though various companies have different perspectives on how possible or feasible it is to source only in the ways promoted by RFN.

RFN contributed to important improvements in the responsible investment strategies of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. This was illustrated by conduct-based exclusions of companies from the Fund’s investment universe and a total of 54 risk-based divestments due to high risks of deforestation.

These changes are noticed internationally and in rainforest countries, though impacts in terms of changes in deforestation rates on the ground remain unclear. RFN also provided input to other institutional investors, primarily in Norway, which excluded companies associated with deforestation risks or engaged more actively in dialogue with companies to improve practices.

Only limited work and successes were noted regarding institutional investors outside Norway.

While this Evaluation concludes that RFN’s objectives were generally achieved, the exact degree to which the objectives were achieved could not be assessed due to the general nature of the objectives and lack of specific and measurable targets. Also, it should be noted that the at times impressive changes in consumption patterns and sourcing in Norway, may not result in significant reductions in deforestation in rainforest countries given the small size of the Norwegian market.

Similarly, the divestments from companies are unlikely to result in shortfall of capital for the companies concerned, but reputational damages have been felt by the companies. The important signals sent by Norwegian consumers, companies and investors were noted internationally and in rainforest countries, and these did result in changes in policies and likely partly in practices in the rainforest countries.

Several factors have contributed to RFN’s results, including:

  • RFN is recognised as a highly knowledgeable, serious and in most instances constructive partner that adds significant value to partners in Norway and in rainforest countries. The organisation is seen as having competent and professional staff. RFN can go further in exploring solutions to the challenges the organisation raises.
  • RFN is the dominant civil society actor in Norway on tropical rainforests and traditional forest-dependent peoples. This gives the organisation a solid foundation upon which to base advocacy work in Norway. Expanding advocacy work beyond Norway will require new skills internally and additional partnerships.
  • RFN’s comprehensive network of Indigenous Peoples’ organisation and environmental organisations in rainforest countries gives a high level of credibility in multiple contexts and access to important knowledge. At the same time, the base of partners in rainforest countries requires considerable broadening along with new and flexible arrangements for cooperation with partners to successfully scale up advocacy work in rainforest countries and internationally.
  • RFN has been able to adapt to changing political contexts and to identify, develop and make use of opportunities, particularly in Norway. Careful situation analysis will be required while expanding work abroad.
  • Strategically well-founded work contributed to successes. Focus on a limited set of solutions, typically not to buy certain commodities without a complementary focus on how to increase sustainability in a step-wise manner, may limit the scope of impacts resulting from RFN’s considerable knowledge and other resources.
  • There are some examples of highly successful linkages between RFN’s field projects and the advocacy work that amplified results. However, this mode of working appeared insufficiently streamlined and institutionalised in RFN.
  • RFN had human and financial resources to undertake consistent advocacy work during the ten-year strategy period. The results were achieved with modest input of resources. A detailed review of efficiency was, however, not possible due to limited available information on resources during the ten-year period.

Comments from the organisation

RFN considers the evaluation report to be very useful, both in terms of accountability and learning. Evaluation of advocacy is challenging, not least because of the problem of establishing causal relationships and attributing responsibility.

Despite this challenge and the added difficulty of evaluating activities that took place over a 10-year period, RFN considers the evaluation to be successful in answering the evaluation questions.

By interviewing a wide range of stakeholders, the consultant has managed to include a number of useful recommendations for RFN’s work going forward.

Publisert 31.05.2018
Sist oppdatert 31.05.2018