Informal meeting on the launch of the Belgian Facilitation 2018-2019 of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership
Belgium has agreed to resume the Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) for the period 2018-2019. Belgium will thus be taking over from the European Commission, which did an outstanding job of establishing a structure which has enhanced CBFP governance, which the Belgian Facilitation can now build on.
On 13 February 2018, Belgium hosted an informal meeting on the launch of the Belgian Facilitation 2018-2019 of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership
Please see below, the minutes of the informal meeting which revolved around the following points: (1) Opening remarks by Belgium’s Africa Director , Ambassador Jozef Smets - (2) Closing remarks of the European Facilitation of the CBFP, 2016-17, by Mr. Anders Henriksson, predecessor, European Union CBFP facilitator, European Commission, Brussels - (3) Priorities of various colleges and "streams" of the CBFP by the Co-Facilitator, Mr. Maxime Nzita Nganga - (4) First indications of the roadmap of the Belgian Facilitation 2018-2019, by Minister de Donnéa, Belgian Facilitator - (5) Debate / Question-and-answer session and Closing….
Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), 2018-2019:
Brussels, 13 February 2018
On 13 February 2018, the Federal Foreign Affairs Office hosted an informal meeting on the launch of the Belgian Facilitation 2018-2019 of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership
- Opening remarks by the Belgian Africa Director, Ambassador Jozef Smets
Acting on a suggestion from the European Union Facilitation, Belgium has decided to take over from the European Union Facilitation 2016-17. Belgium will be represented by Minister de Donnéa (who is well known and highly regarded for his commitment to the region is well known especially at the Virunga Foundation), who will follow in the footsteps of previous facilitators who have served since 2002, when the Congo Basin Forest Partnership was launched.
The Partnership currently counts a wide variety of institutional partners, 105 in number (from the 10 countries of Central Africa, as well as cooperation agencies, research centers, international NGOs and from the sub-region, private sector…), pursuing the common goal of improving the management and conservation of Congo Basin forests at large.
The meeting highlighted Belgium’s specific expertise as well as its significant commitment to the region and activities conducted by its research institutes and other Belgian agencies, namely universities, federal (MRAC, The Museum of Natural History) or Regional institutions (Botanical Garden of Meise, regional commercial agencies) and NGOs. Representatives of a large group of these different agencies took part in the session on the launch of the Belgian CBFP Facilitation.
While the Facilitation has done a remarkable job of strengthening the CBFP structures, Belgium can take things even further by placing new emphasis on content.
- Closing remarks of the European CBFP Facilitation 2016-17, by Mr. Anders Henriksson, previous European Union Facilitator of the CBFP, European Commission, Brussels
During the European Facilitation of the CBFP, much effort was put into strengthening the partnership’s structures, and especially integrating specific groups (NGOs, research institutes, authorities, the private sector) in "colleges" which take turns meeting in an African member country, and are in turn represented within the Council, which is held yearly by the Facilitation. This process and the integration within colleges helps to strengthen each group.
Based on this "bottom up" process conducted by the colleges, the annual CBFP Council should be able to develop policy dialogue and communicate with decision makers with a view to engaging them further.
The CBFP website also needs a facelift.
- Priorities of different colleges and "streams" of the CBFP by the Co-Facilitator, Mr. Maxime Nzita Nganga
Mr. Maxime Nzita Nganga, the Co-Facilitator of the CBFP, for his part, presented a table displaying the results achieved by the different colleges, and highlighted the resulting opportunities and potential: the CBFP Regional Council, the CBFP civil society college, the CBFP international NGO college, the CBFP private sector college, the CBFP Partner college, the CBFP scientific and academic college, and the CBFP multilateral college. Mr. Maxime Nzita Nganga suggested that the colleges be given greater autonomy and underscored the need for political support of the partnership.
There are some specific challenges facing the CBFP private sector college and there is a need to encourage companies in particular to join conservation efforts and also strengthen their due diligence commitments on the other hand.
Lastly, he listed the CBFP’s 19 medium term priorities.
- First indications of the Belgian Facilitation’s roadmap 2018-2019, Minister de Donnéa, Belgian Facilitator
The Belgian Facilitator, Minister de Donnéa, for his part presented an initial outline of his strategy:
-The Facilitation will build on the achievements of previous Facilitators.
-The Facilitator relies entirely on the Co-Facilitation team.
-The Facilitator plans to place more emphasis on greater political involvement. This will require commitment, in each country, on the part of various authorities and structures concerned (financial and forestry sector, development, etc.…).
-The Facilitation suggested that the annual meeting of the Parties be held in the second half of November 2018 in Brussels, in Palais Egmont. It plans to invite African, European as well as American ministers, as well as experts in each area. The meeting would also serve as an opportunity to pay tribute to the expertise of scientific and academic institutions.
-The CBFP Council would be scheduled for June in Brazzaville.
-In April, the Facilitator intends to visit Yaoundé, where the Co-Facilitation team resides and COMIFAC (Central African Forest Commission) as well.
-The Facilitator will also take advantage of African Presidents or Ministers’ visits to Brussels, to establish specific contacts for the benefit of the CBFP.
-Mr. de Donnéa is also considering implementing a sub-regional approach and intends to launch specific initiatives by sub-region: for example, a meeting in the second half of 2018 to discuss the issue of Chadian -Central African Republic-Congolese shepherds, which other countries such as Sudan or Southern Sudan could join.
- Debate / Question -Answer session
- Several speakers highlighted the importance of genuine political involvement in the Partnership (CBFP) and the need for harmonization with and integration of existing African structures and initiatives.
- NGO representatives as well as the Co-Facilitation team called for greater autonomy for the colleges which could also be allowed to raise their own funds. The Council is expected to subsequently validate the initiatives of the colleges.
- The private sector (also featured in the CBFP’s organizational chart) deserves special attention, which should translate into specific events and initiatives. The emphasis should be on corporate "due diligence".
- The representative of the German Cooperation confirmed Germany’s support for the next steps of the CBFP and its adherence to the guidelines announced by the Partnership.
- Other interested donors and partners will be contacted.
- The fight against poaching also warrants attention as a matter of priority and States should be involved via their national PANI plans (Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, which are being followed up by CITES). In this context, the Common African Strategy, launched by the African Union Summit in June 2015 (Johannesburg), remains the framework of reference.
- The SDG 15 theme should be incorporated in the Plan of Action which was launched following the African Union - European Union Summit (Abidjan, November 2017).
- The roadmap should engage African, European and American research networks with interest in the Central African region.
- It was suggested that the reports of the annual meetings of the Parties as well as results obtained within the “streams" be published on the website.
Based on this first informal exchange, which marks the launch of the Belgian Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (2018-2019), in the presence of a large group of stakeholders, the following first indications on the way forward, facilitated by Minister de Donnéa and the co-Facilitation and his team, could be given as follows:
- Work on policymakers: as the actual Facilitator has the stature of a Minister, Ministers will be invited, to further deepen the Partnership.
- Due diligence and clean business, as the Private Sector’s contribution
- How can African and European R&D institutions and educational expertise in the CBFP organization chart be integrated in a triangular scientific and academic cooperation US-EU-Africa?
- Meetings of small sub-regional initiatives in Africa, as a surplus, while the colleges will be held in Africa with the Facilitator taking part as much as possible (to strengthen support of the colleges), and the Annual Meeting of Parties in 2018 in Brussels (week of 26th November 2018). For 2019, no plans have been made as yet.
Kindly download the attendance list