Supporting forests and forest products to deliver their maximum benefits to climate, biodiversity, and prosperity

The Climate Smart Forest Economy Program (CSFEP) partners with communities to build radically new economies that balance ecosystem needs and pressing human needs. It helps regions identify how careful use of bio-based products can provide a low-carbon solution for their biggest challenges—while generating revenue for sustainably managing landscapes, especially forests.  CSFEP is forest-first, so core to its model is a commitment to using natural resources at a rate they can be regenerated.

A coalition of forest and climate advocates founded CSFEP in 2020 to build a new economic model that could support forest health while addressing critical human needs. CSFEP supports and accelerates the growing global CSFE movement, by:


  • Developing a body of scientific evidence and a portfolio of solutions
  • Developing and applying scientific tools to maximize the climate and social potential of CSFEs
  • Implementing on-the-ground initiatives globally to test and prove innovations (Breakthrough Initiatives)
  • Leveraging strategic advocacy, partnerships, and connections to accelerate impact


CSFEP focuses on the Global South, particularly regions experiencing significant deforestation or forest degradation and a growing need for housing. It works to co-create climate mitigation and adaptation solutions with proximate leaders. For example:

  • The Bhutanese national government, CSFEP, Bauhaus Earth and Arup are co-designing a national climate smart forest economy that honors Bhutan’s forests while also addressing the country’s current housing crisis.
  • In East Africa, CSFEP is connecting scattered small businesses along the value chain to build a local biobased construction industry that can bring jobs and housing to East African cities while providing funding for sustainable forest management, restoration, and adaptation.
  • In Guatemala, CSFEP and local company CASSA Guatemala are teaching residents of rural, climate-vulnerable communities to build low-carbon, climate-resilient houses from locally farmed bamboo.


Axum’s leadership and staff were brought into the program in 2020, initially to design the strategy and organisational model for the program, and later to run the program management office. Working closely with Dalberg Catalyst, the program’s fiscal sponsor, Axum has grown the program’s geographical reach and impact, and has anchored the program’s activities in Africa. Throughout the program, Axum has provided surge capacity and ad-hoc services, including evaluating the program’s impact, designing complementary services, and working to capacitate a broader regenerative landscape fund (combining this program with their ongoing biodiversity and regenerative agriculture work). Devang Vussonji is one of the three global Steering Committee members for this program, and Axum staff run the program’s East Africa coalition.