East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Leveraging Partnerships to Tackle Tropical Deforestation: Tropical Forest Alliance 2020

By Climatelinks

USAID is building mutually beneficial partnerships with private sector actors that leverage their respective expertise, assets, technologies, networks and resources to achieve greater development impact. As USAID Administrator Mark Green recently stated in Davos, leveraging the “entrepreneurship and creativity and ingenuity of the private sector” allows USAID “to come up with the best solutions” to solve global challenges while aligning business incentives with development goals.

Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) is one such example of a public-private partnership that jointly identifies and solves key business and development challenges. Founded in 2012, TFA 2020 seeks to reduce deforestation while spurring economic growth. TFA 2020 partners are committed to reducing tropical deforestation from key commodity supply chains, such as palm oil, pulp & paper, soy and beef.

This partnership of champions for deforestation-free global and local economies exemplifies the first step in building mutually beneficial partnerships with the private sector. TFA 2020 is a platform, a place for a broad swath of stakeholders from international commodity buyers to those who represent local forest people, to develop shared goals and approaches, learn what works well, and partner to implement good practices.  

Businesses inherently understand the barriers and opportunities in their markets, and by engaging with USAID, can develop strategies for improving the sustainability of their supply chains in ways that also benefit them, including improvements such as reduction in cost, increased profitability, and less risk in supply chains. With this “enterprise-driven development” mindset, the private and public sectors can advance organizational goals while collectively achieving deforestation-free supply chains, greater self-reliance and sustainable outcomes.


Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

For example, TFA 2020 released the Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020. Informed by and aimed at company executives, policy-makers and civil society leaders, the Agenda lays out the critical steps needed to remove tropical deforestation from beef, palm oil, paper and pulp, and soy supply chains.  These steps do not apply only to governments, to communities, or to businesses; the Agenda “provides a roadmap to encourage everyone with a stake in commodity-driven deforestation to align as a community of action so that we can accelerate our efforts together.”[1]

USAID programming already supports several agenda items, creating a comparative advantage for businesses that it partners with on the ground, by  improving jurisdictional programs, addressing land tenure and land use rights, and improving smallholder productivity and livelihoods. 

Other recent TFA 2020 and partner achievements include:


Marco Albani. Director of TFA 2020 at Africa Palm Oil Initiative event at Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakech, Morocco.
  • Growing to over 100 partners since the inception of TFA 2020.
  • The Government of Colombia formalizing its own chapter.
  • Government representatives from nine countries pledged to implement and meet goals for sustainable development as well as improvements in local businesses through the Africa Palm Oil Initiative.  
  • In Ghana, USAID is working with Hershey’s to strengthen land tenure issues with cocoa farmers.
  • In Paraguay, a coalition of public and private partners, including soy and beef producers and buyers, NGOs, local governments and other international organizations, are working together to establish social, economic and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

TFA 2020 is helping businesses invest in jurisdictional approaches in forest countries through implementation dialogues and facilitating conversations in what has worked well. TFA 2020 has the potential to build on these lessons, ignite new innovations, leverage huge private sector investments, and decouple deforestation from commodity production.


Additional Resources:

[1] Kavita Prakash Mani of World Wildlife Fund and Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever, said in a joint statement.

    Strategic Objective
    Forestry, Land Use, Land Tenure, Mitigation, Private Sector Engagement, Partnership, Sustainable Landscapes
    Africa, Asia, Global, Latin America & Caribbean



    Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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