ECCAS -COMIFAC: Ministers give a strong signal in Kinshasa
The Ministers in charge of forests, environment and planning of the ECCAS and COMIFAC's region reached consensus on REED (plus) related issues and a secured financing mechanism for COMIFAC and partner institutions. They adopted the annual working plan (AWP) as well as the COMIFAC 2010 budget.
From September 14 -15, 2009, the extraordinary Conference of Ministers of ECCAS -COMIFAC was held in Kinshasa (DRC). It was preceded from September 9 - 12, 2009 by the expert advisory committee. This conference was opened by the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of reconstruction of DRC, His Excellency Professor Emile Bongeli Yeikelo Ya Ato. The following countries participated in the workshops: Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, and Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sao Tome and Principe and Chad. The representatives of some sub-regional institutions and international organizations were also present: ECCAS COMIFAC, RAPAC, CEFDHAC, ADIE, OAB, OCFSA, REPAR, the World Bank, European Union, AfDB, CIFOR, UICN, GTZ, CARPE/USAID, UNESCO.
The Secretary General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Mr. Louis SYLVAIN-GOMA, in his speech, thanked the Congolese high ranking authorities for the measures taken to ensure successful working sessions. He highlighted the interest of Central Africa to take a stand on the issue of climate change. Along the same line, the acting President of the Commission for Forests of Central Africa (COMIFAC) His Excellency Emmanuel BIZOT, recalled and emphasized the main objective of the meetings which was to harmonize positions on the reduction of emissions caused by deforestation and degradation (REDD plus). He equally raised issues related to the financing mechanism of COMIFAC and partners institutions.
As an outcome of the meetings, nine resolutions were taken. These were grouped into two main points:
(1) International negotiations on climate change. In order to avoid arriving in Copenhagen with different points of views, the agreement, through the explanatory statement, gives a green light on the joint position of countries of the ECCAS -COMIFAC in the negotiations of a post-Kyoto climate regime. This position is based on the 5 pillars of the Bali action plan which were: adaptation, attenuation, technology transfers, financing and capacity building. The session also reaffirmed through the declaration of Kinshasa, the joint position of the ministers of ECCAS -COMIFAC, "taking into account the sequestering of carbon in the soil as a component to be treated specifically within the framework of the development of sustainable agriculture in Africa". This agreement strengthens the partnership between ECCAS and COMIFAC, therefore making the transition from "country of the Congo basin" to "country of the CEEAC - COMIFAC". Moreover, the ministers called for an "introduction of a REDD (plus) mechanism in the agreement to be negotiated in Copenhagen", which is different from the position of experts who wish for precised rules on the REDD plus in spite of obstacles that can still exist in the other areas of the negotiation. With regard to the structuring of the climate working group, a letter of assignment was adopted. They wished that the Executive Secretariat (ES-COMIFAC) should recruit a climate expert responsible for CRU (Climate Regional Unit) within COMIFAC Executive Secretariat to follow-up the activities of the working group amongst other things.
(2) Safeguarding the activities of COMIFAC. The ministers reiterated the installation of the autonomous financing mechanism of COMIFAC launched in 2000 and based on the increase of the CCI mechanism levy rate from 0,4 to 0,5%. This implies that 0.1% of importat taxes from developing countries will automatically be transfered to COMIFAC to ensure its running and the full achievement of its mission. This resolution was officially approved by the Board of Ministers of COMIFAC since 2007 and is being implemented (since 2008) by one Member State (RCA). In addition, the Ministers agreed on the annual working plan (AWP) 2010 as well as the COMIFAC budget. They reemphasized, on the one hand, that each Member State should honor their commitments in the final settlement of deficiencies in contribution: only 42% of the allocated contributions have actually been collected. On the other hand, they reiterated the payment of their equal shared contributions which is about 50.000 € per member and per annum for the current year in order to ensure the political credibility and the financial autonomy necessary for COMIFAC, as already requested by the Congo Basin Forest partnership for a long time now.
These results, which are encouraging, give us hope that they will be well received during the Head of States Summit next October.
For more information, please consult the following press release: