International climate finance: UK aid for halting deforestation and preventing irreversible biodiversity loss

A review examining the effectiveness of UK aid in halting deforestation and preventing biodiversity loss.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 15 July 2021
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Climate change and biodiversity
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Life on land

Read the approach paper

Our approach

Given the UK’s long-standing engagement in the areas of deforestation and biodiversity loss, and its commitment to leading international efforts on climate change, this review examines both the direct results of UK programming and the government’s wider efforts to galvanise international action. It explores efforts to ensure the sustainability of forests, conserve biodiversity and end the illegal wildlife trade.

The review covers both programmes dedicated to protecting forests and conserving biodiversity, and those identified by the government as having elements that are relevant to these objectives. It follows a 2019 ICAI review of the UK’s International Climate Finance (ICF) for which it awarded a green-amber score. This review extended its scope beyond the response to climate change to include scrutiny of biodiversity conservation and combatting the illegal wildlife trade, while providing an opportunity to assess progress on a recommendation which is still outstanding.

This review provides timely insights to the government, given the UK’s leadership of international events in 2021 including COP26, at which nature will be one of five key priorities, and the UK’s presidency of the G7, with the global climate response expected to be on the agenda.

The review covers the work of three government departments: the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the former Department for International Development (DFID), since merged as part of the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Review questions

We sought to answer the following review questions:

  1. Relevance: How well are UK aid programmes related to halting deforestation and preventing biodiversity loss responding to global, national and community needs and priorities?
  2. Coherence: How internally and externally coherent are UK aid programmes aimed at halting deforestation and preventing biodiversity loss?
  3. Effectiveness: To what extent has UK aid contributed to halting deforestation and preventing biodiversity loss?


Read the literature review



Published 8 December 2020

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 15 July 2021

Government response

Published 13 September 2021

Further scrutiny

Details to be confirmed

ICAI follow-up

Details to be confirmed