copy the linklink copied!4. Institutional co-ordination and coherence for sustainable land use

National and sub-national institutions play a key role in land use. Ensuring co-ordination both between national institutions (horizontal co-ordination) and national and sub-national institutions (vertical co-ordination) is important for policy alignment in the land-use, biodiversity, climate and food nexus. This chapter highlights the degree of co-ordination between relevant government institutions and the mechanisms for co-ordination in the case study countries (Brazil, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand). The chapter provides examples of horizontal co-ordination and how relevant national level ministries work together to produce policy and manage nexus areas. It then highlights the challenges facing existing mechanisms for vertical co-ordination. The chapter also discusses the role of institutions in international trade including the role of the private sector for managing nexus impacts.


copy the linklink copied!The need for strong institutional co-ordination in the land-use nexus

Strong institutional co-ordination is particularly important for the effective management of the land-use nexus. This is true for both horizontal co-ordination (between different national government ministries) and vertical co-ordination (between national and sub-national stakeholders). In general, the roles and mandates of institutions should be clearly defined to facilitate transparency and accountability.

As the importance of simultaneously addressing multiple policy goals has grown, many countries are in the process of identifying effective institutional frameworks. Allowing for potential institutional changes e.g. to address areas of emerging concern, or to encourage integration of two or more specific areas of policy is therefore also important. Top-down inter-ministerial committees have been established by some of the case study countries. The advantages of such committees include that they can help to move away from silo approaches by facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement in decision-making processes. But, these committees can create conflict and resistance from existing institutions. For the relevant institutions to effectively undertake their responsibilities, adequate capacity, technical expertise and funding are also required.

The institutional structures in place can be particularly complex in in large, decentralised countries, such as in Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. In Indonesia, for example, relevant policies are created by at least 8 different national-level ministries, 6 non-departmental bodies, and the Office of the President. Local authorities also have significant authority over forest management (Wardojo and Masripatin, 2002[1]). It is particularly important therefore that mandates and roles are clearly defined, and that overlap is avoided. In Brazil, two co-ordination bodies relevant to climate change have been established: an Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change (CIM) as well as an Inter-ministerial Commission on Global Climate Change (CIMGC). Each of these groups includes several stakeholders: 15 ministries participate in the CIM, which is co-ordinated by the Presidency (CIM, 2007[2]).It is unsurprising that a complex institutional structure is used to address multiple interlinked issues that affect a myriad of stakeholders. Indeed, a structure involving multiple ministries is positive, inasmuch as it is explicitly recognising that cross-sectoral expertise are needed to address issues related to the nexus of land-use, biodiversity, climate and food.

copy the linklink copied!Level of horizontal co-ordination in domestic policy development

Countries recognise the importance of horizontal policy co-ordination, and have developed different institutional means to promote it. This includes developing cross-cutting co-ordination mechanisms. These can bring together multiple different Ministries and other relevant stakeholders, and can provide a platform for communication. An example is New Zealand’s “Natural Resources Sector” (NRS), which aims to “improve the productivity of New Zealand’s resource-related industries while reducing their environmental impact to build a more productive and competitive economy” (MfE, 2015, p. 1[3]).1 Brazil and Mexico have also established inter-ministerial committees to help foster coherence, e.g. Brazil’s National Environmental Council (CONAMA), which is a high level advisory and deliberative committee and also includes representatives from civil society, academia, and trade unions, and the business sector.

Inter-ministerial co-ordination mechanisms are particularly important where issues relevant to the climate, land-use, ecosystems and food nexus are split between the responsibility of several different ministries. This is the case in Indonesia, where the issues of forestry, agriculture, energy (including bioenergy) and spatial planning are under the purview of four different ministries (Ministry of Environment and Forestry - MoEF, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Agrarian and Spatial Planning, respectively). The current structure of individual ministries in Indonesia should ensure some horizontal policy co-ordination in the nexus, as for example MoEF also has responsibility for setting policy regarding biodiversity and ecosystems. However, biodiversity/ecosystem policy and climate policy are created independently, despite clear synergies (e.g. REDD+) and the MoEF having responsibility for both sectors. Indonesia acknowledges in its NBSAP that “it is necessary to synchronise the issue of climate change and biodiversity that is implemented in the scope of MoEF” (Government of Indonesia, 2016[4]).

Institutional co-ordination can be on an ad hoc basis or it can be institutionalised. In France, Ireland and Mexico, it is institutionalised – which facilitates co-ordination. For example, in France, two ministries (MTES and MAA) are jointly responsible for identifying and addressing trade-offs and promoting synergies between agricultural productivity growth, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. In France, for matters that involve multiple ministries, the general secretariat of European affairs (SGAE) oversees policy co-ordination and ensures that a consensus is reached. In Ireland, institutions to coordinate action for climate change mitigation are being established. For example, under the new Climate Action Plan 2019, a Climate Action Delivery Board, jointly chaired by the office of the Taoiseach and the DCCAE, will be established to oversee the implementation of the plan (Government of Ireland, 2018[5]). The Climate Action Delivery Board will be responsible for reviewing key projects, identifying challenges for implementation and reporting on the progress of the plan.

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Box 4.1. Governance of peatlands in Indonesia and Ireland

Peatlands have globally significant biodiversity, are an important carbon sink, and conversely a potentially significant source of GHG emissions (via direct use of carbon-rich peat, or via drying and subsequent oxidation of peat soils) (UNEP; GEF; Global Environment Centre; Wetlands International, 2008[6]). Ensuring coherent governance of peatlands is therefore important to the nexus.

Peatlands are governed by a specific body both in Indonesia and Ireland. This governance arrangement has led to some misalignments and inconsistencies in both countries. For example, the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) is a non-departmental institution created by presidential decree. As such, the BRG is not eligible for state funding, and funding for its actions must come from relevant departmental budgets (MoA, MoEF) and other domestic or international sources (BRG, 2016[7]) Further, despite being responsible for peatland restoration, the BRG has no direct authority over any peatland areas. The result is an organisation that lacks the resources or authority to realistically achieve its goals, of 2 million ha restored by 2021.

In Ireland, Bord na Móna is a quasi-state organisation responsible for the development and management of Ireland’s peat resources. It operates an extensive peat harvesting operation as well as two of Ireland’s three peat-fired power stations. It also owns and manages 80,000ha of land, including around 7% of the total extent of peat bogs (Bord na Móna, 2018[8]). However, policies relating to peatlands are formulated by a different body (the National Parks and Wildlife Service). Subsidies are available for the generation of electricity using peat (€103.4million in 2017/18): this has negative consequences for both emission and biodiversity (CER, 2017[9]). However, the national peatlands strategy represents a significant step forward. Recognising, the environmental and ecosystem service benefits of peatland area, phasing out electricity generation by 2028 and the decision by Bord na móna to decarbonise through increase electricity generation from renewables to 75% by 2020 and reduce peat production from a peak of 6.5mt (2013) to 2mt (2020), are all positive steps that will benefit the peatland areas. This also represents significantly improved coordination of nexus goals as they relate to peat.

Institutions have also been established to ensure horizontal co-ordination at the sub-national level in some countries, including Mexico and Indonesia. For example, the Mexican State of Chiapas has an Inter-institutional Co-ordination Commission on Climate Change (CCICCCH) (World Bank, CIAT and CATIE, 2014[10]). In Indonesia, each provincial level government has a dedicated local development agency (BAPPENDA), which is responsible for developing provincial level development plans and ensure that it is in line with national policy norms and goals. Regarding climate change, the (federal) RAN-GRK secretariat provides technical assistance to provincial and district level governments to facilitate the mainstreaming of mitigation plans into their development plans. However, like the national context, there is a lack of overarching subnational co-ordination of nexus policies, beyond the BAPPENDA. Consequently, sub-national nexus policies are not always consistent or co-ordinated.

Improving horizontal co-ordination can also involve modifying the mandates of different national ministries. At present, these can be quite specific, or much broader – which could – at least in theory – facilitate policy coherence. For example, in Indonesia, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is responsible for policy that governs the production of food and other agricultural products. The MoA issues permits and creates norms which govern the use of land that falls outside the national forest estate. The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has a slightly broader mandate, and that for the Mexican Ministry dealing with agriculture is broader still – including rural development and food security (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, SAGARPA). In France, the Ministry for an ecological and solidarity transition (MTES) has a very broad remit to oversee sustainable development, the environment and climate - as well as the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB) and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). The issue of agriculture and food is under the remit of a separate ministry (Ministry of Agriculture and Food, MAA), but environmental concerns have a high profile – maybe in part due to the joint responsibility of MAA and MTES in addressing synergies and trade-offs (highlighted above).

Influence of multilateral agreements or actions on institutions

International concerns also impact policies, institutions and policy coherence in the nexus. This includes supra-national agreements and actions, such as those related to the SDGs. Indeed, several countries have established inter-ministerial committees to help develop and implement policies that progress the SDGs in a coherent manner (outlined in Table 4.1). For example, Mexico has established a “National Council for the 2030 Agenda” to co-ordinate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This body is led by the Office of the President to “co-ordinate the design, execution, follow-up and evaluation” of actions relating to the SDGs – including by connecting federal government representatives with the legislative branch, as well as with local governments and other relevant stakeholders.

International initiatives such as more focused “supply-side” programmes and associated institutions, such as the REDD+ framework established under the UNFCCC have also spurred on new institutional arrangements to foster co-operation.2 Consequently, some countries have set up national or sub-national institutions. For example, Brazil has established a national commission for REDD+, and supporting thematic advisory panels and technical groups (Government of Brazil, 2017[11]). Mexico for example, developed partnerships between different national-level institutions with the specific aim of improving co-ordination and collaboration. Thus, in 2011, SAGARPA signed a co-operation agreement with the National Forestry Commission to establish co-ordination mechanisms i.e. in areas including both agricultural activities and forests (Government of Mexico, 2015[12]). Further, Mexico has explicitly mentioned the issue of biodiversity in its “general law on climate change” (PECC), which entered into force in 2012.

International pressure has also led to “demand-side” programmes and associated institutions. These include internationally-recognised schemes, such as the “Forestry Stewardship Council” (FSC, which to date has certified more than 200 million hectares of responsibly-managed forests globally) (FSC, 2017[13]). It also includes national schemes, such as the Indonesian Forestry Certification Corporation. The governance of such schemes is often led by non-government stakeholders.

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Table 4.1. National institutional arrangements for co-ordination of a country’s SDG response







New Zealand

Lead co-ordination

National Commission for SDGs (CNODS)

High-level, multi-stakeholder steering committee (including representatives of all government departments)

“National Co-ordination team”, led by Ministry of National Development (BAPPENAS)

Senior Officials Group (representatives of all government departments)

National Council for the 2030 Agenda

NA (no co-ordination body for SDGs)


Office of the President

Inter-ministerial delegate for sustainable development (as mandated by the Prime Minister)

Office of the President


Office of the President


Is each SDG assigned to a specific ministry







Sub-national entity representation?



Included in the underlying working groups




CSO/private sector representation?



No – but plans to include interaction with stakeholders (including agriculture) subsequently



Source: UNDESA (2017[14]) Compendium of National Institutional Arrangements for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,; Government of Ireland (2018[14]), The Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020,; UNDP (2017[15]), Institutional and Coordination Mechanisms - Guidance Note on Facilitating Integration and Coherence for SDG implementation,

National parliaments can also be involved in policy co-ordination relevant to the land-use nexus. This is useful to ensure coherence between the executive and legislative branches of government. For example, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has a special parliamentary grouping relating to the SDGs (UNECLAC, 2017[16]), and Mexico also has a Senate Working Group for Monitoring the Legislative Implementation of the SDGs (Government of Mexico, 2018[17]).

copy the linklink copied!Level of vertical co-ordination in domestic policy development

Vertical policy co-ordination is important to ensure that sub-national policies and land-use practices are consistent with national objectives and policy norms. At the national level, the need for vertical policy co-ordination very much depends on the level of decentralisation in a country, as well as mandates for national and sub-national entities. In several countries, sub-national governments are either required to (e.g. France) or can (e.g. Brazil) develop sub-national climate policies. Thus, in France, the sub national regions are required to include climate policies in their regional plan for territorial planning. This requirement to develop a policy document that includes several different topics was specifically aimed at removing policy contradictions that came about from developing more focused sets of objectives (e.g. on biomass energy) (Government of France, 2010[18]). In Brazil, both Brazilian states and cities can set their own climate plan, and 14 states (out of 27) have done so (Barbi and da Costa Ferreira, 2017[19]). The Brazilian national environment system (Sisnama) “aims to establish a co-ordinated … set of actions for environmental management” and includes representation from national, State and municipalities (Government of Brazil, 2016[20]).

Sub-national biodiversity strategies are also increasingly being developed, including in some sub-national jurisdictions of Brazil, France, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand (CDB, 2017[21]). In Mexico, the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) encourages States to develop sub-national biodiversity plans, and eight Mexican states have done so (Government of Michoacan, 2007[22]). Developing such strategies has sometimes involved consultation with a wide group of stakeholders. For example, the biodiversity strategy of the Mexican state of Michoacán was developed in consultation with all sectors, and via workshops and public consultation, and will be followed by a state-wide action plan to implement the strategy (Government of Michoacan, 2007[22]).

Governance of biodiversity-related issues can differ from those focused on land use. For example, local authorities in New Zealand are responsible for managing several important aspects of biodiversity on private land (Schneider and Samkin, 2012[23]). Indeed, a number of NZ local authorities have developed specific local plans to manage the pressures on biodiversity.

In France, vertical integration of regional plans that includes climate policies, with national priorities is ensured by requiring that these are jointly developed between a sub-national government (region) and the federal government (Government of France, 2010[18]). The aim of a of a regional climate plan is to fix short (to 2020) and long -term (to 2050) objectives relating to i.a. GHG mitigation and carbon sequestration.

Vertical co-ordination can also help promote policy coherence between national policies and supra-national frameworks. Vertical co-ordination for EU member states also includes co-ordination between national and EU policies. For example, the European Commission initiated the “Multi-annual Implementation Plan of the new EU Forest Strategy” which aims to co-ordinate “forest policies and initiatives relevant to forests and to the forest-based sector” (EC, 2015[24]). This implementation plan includes specific mention of increasing the use of forests for mitigation; protecting forests and enhancing ecosystem services; and “working together to coherently manage … forests” (EC, 2015[24]).

In general, while the national government sets the over-arching framework for land-use decisions, it is the sub-national governments that are in charge of the final land-use and development decisions. Consequently, the differing priorities of sub-national governments can lead to differences in how national level norms are interpreted and applied at local levels. For example, while land-use decisions are made largely by individual land owners in New Zealand, their options are limited by national standards – such as the Resource Management Act. Nevertheless, there can be significant intra-country variation in the management of specific issues. For example, inconsistencies between regional plans between different regions of New Zealand have led to inconsistencies in managing the impacts of farming activities on freshwater (Baker-Galloway, 2013[25]). In Mexico, community-level (ejidos and comunidades) governance of forestry plays an important role in land management, but the state nevertheless has the power to “impose measures that it deems necessary to safeguard the conservation of natural resources” (Government of Mexico, 2017[26]) .

The degree of centralisation or decentralisation of policy-making in the nexus raises different challenges for the coordination of institutions. Decentralisation poses challenges for the vertical coordination of land-use policy. Ensuring that both national level policy norms are translated into local land-use decisions and that local land-use issues are accurately reflected in the national policy making process requires a continuous flow of information between national and sub-national institutions. One way of achieving this is through the sub-national representation of national level institutions, an approach common to both Indonesia and Mexico. In Mexico, the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) is represented in each Mexican State, as well as in many hundreds of Rural Development Districts (Government of Mexico, 2018[27]). A review of REDD+ readiness in Indonesia has also highlighted the importance of sub-national institutions to support relevant activities at sub-national levels – for example, the province-level working group on REDD+ meets monthly (FCPF, 2015[28]).This decentralised presence of ministries, agencies or committees helps to provide information and promote co-ordination between agricultural producers and sub-national governments.

Despite these challenges, decentralisation provides an opportunity for innovative context-specific solutions and institutions (especially in large heterogeneous countries). For example, counties in Brazil with the highest deforestation rates have had bans imposed for loans for agricultural activities, and their ranchers embargoed from selling their cattle to slaughterhouses (Le Tourneau, 2016[29]). If decentralisation leads to greater influence of the local community over land, and the benefits that can be generated from it, this can incentivise actions that are more sustainable in the longer-term. For example, there is some evidence in Mexico that forests that are managed by communities may be done so more sustainably (e.g. storing more carbon) than other types of management (CCMSS; Rights and Resources Initiative, 2010[30]).

copy the linklink copied!International trade and co-ordination with non-state actors

Given the transboundary realm of activity of the institutions involved in international trade, in addition to the cross-engagement of trade- and land use-relevant government institutions, the coordination of public and private institutions is also important. In several of the case study countries, multi-stakeholder partnerships involving both public and private actors at national and sub-national scale have been an effective mechanism to influence land-use nexus implications of global supply chains. A challenge for government institutions is how to effectively engage and coordinate with these initiatives to leverage maximum effectiveness and alignment with national policy.

The Brazilian Soy Moratorium (SoyM, discussed in chapter 5), is an example of an industry-led initiative of this kind in the Brazilian Amazon biome. Only after its creation by private actors was it joined by the Brazilian authorities. A similar initiative in the Cerrado has become known as the “Cerrado manifesto”. This manifesto, published by a coalition of NGOs, foundations and scientific institutions in September 2017 and signed by over a hundred local and international firms and investors, contains a pledge to dissociate supply chains and activities from recently converted areas, deforestation and native vegetation loss in the Cerrado biome (The Consumer Goods Forum, 2019[31]). Another initiative, the Mato Grosso’s “Produce – Conserve – Include” Strategy, is a multi-stakeholder partnership counting 40 members, including government institutions, NGOs and private companies (Government of Mato Grosso, 2019[32]). Also, the Brazilian coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture counts more than 190 member institutions and promotes the direct engagement between the government and private companies throughout the country (Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, 2019[33]).

Similar institutions and multi-sector partnerships aim to ease pressures on land in other case study countries. In Indonesia, an initiative aiming to establish partnerships and to coordinate the palm oil sector and existing sustainability initiatives at the national level is the Indonesian palm oil platform (InPOP). Launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Agriculture, by February 2019 InPOP counted 56 members comprising national and sub-national government institutions, development partners, and members from the private sector and civil society (Indonesian Palm Oil Platform (InPOP), 2019[34]). In Ireland, a voluntary food and drink sustainability programme (“Origin Green”, see also Box 5.1) brings together 321 farmers and food businesses (Bord Bia, n.d.[35]).


[25] Baker-Galloway, M. (2013), The Inconsistent Regional Management of Farming Effects on Waterways, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Christchurch, New Zealand, (accessed on 4 February 2019).

[19] Barbi, F. and L. da Costa Ferreira (2017), “Governing Climate Change Risks: Subnational Climate Policies in Brazil”, Chinese Political Science Review, Vol. 2/2, pp. 237–252,

[35] Bord Bia (n.d.), Origin Green: Ireland’s food and drink sustainability programme, (accessed on 25 February 2019).

[8] Bord na Móna (2018), Bord na Móna - Naturally Driven, (accessed on August 31 2018).

[33] Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture (2019), The Coalition, (accessed on 25 February 2019).

[7] BRG (2016), Wapres JK Larang BRG Pakai APBN untuk Restorasi,

[30] CCMSS; Rights and Resources Initiative (2010), Sustainable Forest Management as a strategy to combat Climate Change: lessons from Mexican communities, (accessed on 2018 August 2018).

[21] CDB (2017), Subnational Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (SBSAPs), (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[9] CER (2017), Public Service Obligation Levy 2017/18, Commission for Energy Regulation.

[2] CIM (2007), Decreto n° 6.263, de 21 de Novembro 2007, Institui o Comitê Interministerial sobre Mudança do Clima - CIM, orienta a elaboração do Plano Nacional sobre Mudança do Clima, e dá outras providências, FAOLEX,

[24] EC (2015), Commissions Staff Working Document - Multi-annual Implementation Plan of the new EU Forest Strategy, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[28] FCPF (2015), REDD+ Annual Country Progress Reporting (with semi-annual update), (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[13] FSC (2017), FSC Certification: Delivering business benefits by guaranteeing environmental and social responsibility, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[11] Government of Brazil (2017), Implementation of the Brazil’s National Strategy for REDD+, http://r/images/conaredd/implementaoredd-resumoexecutivo-EN-Nov17-COP23.pdf (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[20] Government of Brazil (2016), National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, (accessed on August 31 2018).

[18] Government of France (2010), Schéma régional du climat, de l’air et de l’énergie, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[4] Government of Indonesia (2016), Indonesian Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2020, The Ministry of the National Development Planning,

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[27] Government of Mexico (2018), Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación: Delegaciones Estatales, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

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[26] Government of Mexico (2017), Estrategia National para el REDD+ 2017-2030, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

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[29] Le Tourneau, F. (2016), “Is Brazil now in control of deforestation in the Amazon?”, Cybergeo,

[3] MfE (2015), Natural Resources Sector Diagram,

[23] Schneider, A. and G. Samkin (2012), “A biodiversity jigsaw: A review of current New Zealand legislation and initiatives”, e-Journal of Social & Behavioural Research in Business, Vol. 3/2, pp. 10-26, (accessed on 4 February 2019).

[31] The Consumer Goods Forum (2019), Business for the Cerrado - Supporting the Cerrado Manifesto, (accessed on 1 March 2019).

[14] UNDESA (2017), Compendium of National Institutional Arrangements for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[15] UNDP (2017), Institutional and Coordination Mechanisms - Guidance Note on Facilitating Integration and Coherence for SDG implementation, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[16] UNECLAC (2017), Annual report on regional progress and challenges in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development n Latin America and the Caribbean, (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[6] UNEP; GEF; Global Environment Centre; Wetlands International (2008), Assessment on Peatlands, Biodiversity and Climate change, International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG), (accessed on 31 August 2018).

[1] Wardojo, W. and N. Masripatin (2002), Trends in Indonesian Forest Policy,

[10] World Bank, CIAT and CATIE (2014), Climate-Smart Agriculture in Chiapas, Mexico, The World Bank Group.


← 1. This is a grouping of central government agencies responsible for the management and stewardship of New Zealand’s natural resources composed of the DOC, the Ministry for the Environment; the Ministry for Primary Industries; the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; Land Information New Zealand; Te Puni Kōkiri; and the Department of Internal Affairs.

← 2. REDD+ refers to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. This was recognised under the UNFCCC framework as a potentially-important means of reducing GHG emissions, and UNFCCC decisions invites countries to designate a national focal point who can iter alia receive results-based payments.

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