Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA)

Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) uses satellite data to generate regularly updated online maps and alerts of tropical forest clearing. David Wheeler, now a CGD senior fellow emeritus, assembled and led a small team that created FORMA, which has since become a core component of the World Resources Institute (WRI) Global Forest Monitoring (GFW) platform launched in February 2014.

FORMA is now available for visualization, analysis, and download at GFW, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. CGD continues to work closely with WRI on forest monitoring issues as part of our Forests for Climate and Development initiative.

Using current data accessed via GFW, FORMA can be used to support international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions by demonstrating to those willing to pay for forest conservation (for example, through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), bilateral programs such as Norway’s Forest and Climate Initiative or UN-REDD) that protected forests are indeed still standing. CGD has developed the Forest Conservation Performance Rating (fCPR) system as a set of benchmarks that showcase global progress in reducing forest clearing and that could form the basis for such payments.


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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s largest bilateral development agency. CGD’s work focuses on strengthening USAID’s position as a leading development agency by providing research and analysis on the agency’s various development initiatives and operational reforms.

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The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent US foreign assistance agency with a focused mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. MCC’s model of assistance is predicated on key principles of aid effectiveness, including country ownership, transparency, and sustainable results. CGD provides regular analysis and research on the policies, operations, and effectiveness of the agency, along with ideas for innovation and adaptation.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the US government’s development finance institution. It is a leading agency in implementing President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative and the Electrify Africa Act. CGD’s work focuses on how OPIC can most effectively promote economic opportunity and growth.

Interagency Development Initiatives

The US government often coordinates the work of various agencies through initiatives aimed at particular development challenges. CGD’s work looks at the impact of these interagency initiatives by exploring their ability to deliver on development goals.

Recent US administrations have sought to incorporate key principles of aid effectiveness into their foreign assistance architecture while proposing reforms to boost operational capacity. CGD regularly evaluates US efforts to implement these reforms and principles, which cut across agencies, sectors, and initiatives.

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As the lead agency on foreign affairs, the Department of State takes the lead in a number of areas of development policy, particularly at the nexus of development and democracy. State is also tightly linked to USAID and houses PEPFAR.

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US Treasury leads the Administration’s engagement in multilateral development assistance, participates in bilateral policy dialogue with developing countries, and provides technical assistance related to public financial management in many developing countries. CGD’s research focuses on how the United States can more effectively leverage its role in multilateral institutions and recommendations on how these institutions can adapt to an evolving development landscape.