The FACT Roadmap launched in 2021 identifies indicative actions in four key and related thematic areas.

Trade and Market

Work under the sustainable production track of Trade & Markets (T&M) has focused on a scoping study and matrix concerning sustainable production. The preparation of the study has substantially advanced and is expected to be presented to FACT Member countries in late 2023. At the Retreat, the study’s methodology, outputs, and proposed focus countries for identified commodities were presented, as well as a “sustainable production matrix” mapping out common/existing sustainability objectives and issues to be applied to the respective commodities and countries.

Under the market recognition track of T&M, the Secretariat continued to create space for and encourage discussions among FACT members concerning options for a more cooperative approach to market recognition of sustainably-produced products, focused on examples of national initiatives that could facilitate or strengthen market recognition.

A critical area of discussion and engagement at the Retreat as well was regarding the new and emerging (due diligence) regulations that had been adopted or were under consideration by some countries which were relevant to topics and issues being discussed within the FACT Dialogue. Presentations were made during the Retreat by representatives of countries that have adopted or are considering such policies: a representative from Germany spoke on the new European Union Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR), a representative from the US shared developments in-country on related regulations and processes, and a representative from the UK provided an overview of UK legislation and the UK Environment Act.

Several participants from producer countries raised questions to the presentators, identifying key concerns and issues and providing their reflections on their own national circumstances and existing initiatives related to due diligence. Concerns were raised around the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) thereunder, and implications of the adoption of the EUDR. Many participants also emphasized the need for greater communication and understanding between producer and consumer countries on this issue and sustainability of commodities more generally, and that the FACT Dialogue should be an opportunity to have this discussion.

Smallholder Support

The ongoing work on Smallholders, on the exchange of best practices and identification of effective approaches to scale up support and finance for smallholder farmers has continued under the Co Facilitation leadership of the Governments of the UK and Malaysia. A series of expert seminars for FACT member countries are now being organized to take place over the next two years and in order to support this work, six “promising approaches” have been identified and agreed amongst countries as follows:

  1. Strengthening smallholder organizations and professionalization, through support for setting up cooperatives and strengthening existing farmer group;
  2. Improving technical capacity with the aim to lower the cost of technical assistance;
  3. Enhancing land and tenure security, including through enhanced transparency;
  4. Improving financial resources, which are long-term, predictable and through collaborations with local (financial) institutions and SMEs;
  5. Improving access to information through local and culturally familiar channels; and
  6. Improving resilience to climate change through enhanced support, including related to ecosystem restoration.

The first event took place in July 2023 on the subject of Living Income (LI). It covered a multistakeholder dialogue where the concept of LI and the Living Income Community of Practice (LI COP) were introduced, and the role of governments in enabling LI. This was followed by a government-to-government dialogue on learnings from the cocoa sector, highlighting a recent LI COP workshop in Cote d’Ivoire and sharing of country perspectives.

Traceability and Transparency

A Traceability and Transparency (T&T) work plan was proposed to countries prior to the Retreat, and was the basis of discussions during the event. The work plan revolved around proposed workstreams in 2023, including for concluding the independent research on T&T, the development of preliminary guidance.

In May 2023, the T&T Action Group held an interim meeting focused on the independent research, and next steps for the Action Group. The research was presented by the World Resource Institute (WRI) and Efeca (as part of Forest Data Partnership) and key points were flagged to seek feedback from countries. Inputs from the discussion have been consolidated and considered by the researchers in finalizing the report. Possible options for next steps in T&T are being explored, including through a review of the draft research report and coordination among the UK and Ghana, which are co-facilitators of the Action Group, and the Secretariat.

  • The Secretariat shared updates on independent research and stakeholder engagement during the FACT retreat:
    • Research aims to evaluate current practices across different sectors, geographies and commodities, and to identify factors of success for effective T&T; publication expected in 2023.
    • Discussion between the Secretariat, United States and Côte d’Ivoire highlighted the importance of identifying objectives of engagement and integrating this within the broader FACT stakeholder engagement strategy.
  • T&T country co-facilitators Ghana and the UK led discussion on pilots during the retreat for which planning is now underway.
  • An interim meeting held on 3 May examined research findings from World Resources Institute as part of an external review.

Research, Development
and Innovation

Work on Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) has continued under the leadership of Brazil and has focused on the participatory process concerning a theory of change (TOC) and preparation of a literature review concerning research partnerships.

Theory of Change Development

The RDI Theory of Change workshop took place in February 2023 with eighteen participants, including academic and research organizations nominated by FACT countries and representatives of the Government of Brazil. This process has resulted in a preliminary TOC diagram presented to countries during the FACT Retreat and is informing broader FACT strategic discussions. A central pillar to the TOC implementation concerns the establishment of an information-sharing platform, which has been the subject of further discussions across the dialogue. Work on implementation of the platform will continue during the next phase of the work between July to December 2023 and into 2024.

Literature review

A literature review was conducted during late 2022/2023 to support the work under the Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) thematic area, particularly as regards strengthening the capacity of national research institutions to undertake and lead research partnerships through North-South, South-South, and triangular cooperation. This effort sought to identify (among others) implementation arrangements,  hindering or promoting factors, and stand out examples of best practices with a view towards developing criteria for successful research partnerships.

Preliminary results from the literature review have  yielded the following findings:

  • In general, research partnerships have delivered beneficial outcomes and impacts to participating institutions and/or organizations.
  • Nevertheless, several common factors hinder the effectiveness of research partnerships. These include power asymmetries, inequitable relationships and unequal access to resources between researchers in the Global North and Global South,
  • Effective research partnerships likewise shared several best practices, which ensured the inclusion and meaningful engagement of Global South scholars throughout the research processes.

The literature review has been finalised and is available on the FACT website.