EFI: Exploring GTTN Network in Africa
To increase awareness amongst African stakeholders from the field of research, government and non-governmental institutions, development partners, and the private sector about the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN), and the growing potential of timber tracking techniques to help curb illegal logging in Africa, GTTN organized its Regional Workshop Africa in Younde, Cameroon on 27-28 June 2018.
Aim of the workshop – which was planned in collaboration with Bioversity International – was not only to increase awareness of stakeholders in Africa about GTTN but also to identify interest and potential demand or prospective barriers for adoption of timber tracking techniques on the continent. In collaboration with African stakeholders, GTTN wanted to explore the needs for knowledge transfer and financial assistance for developing skills, knowledge and tools and with the aim to adopt timber tracking technologies including the collection of sample material and the development of reference data.
Africa is hardly presented on GTTN's map of service providers. Since GTTN is currently finalizing a Service Providers Directory, the workshop also served to map existing capacities and know-how with laboratories already involved with timber tracking as well as with laboratories that currently apply their competencies to other areas (e.g. agriculture, CITES species other than wood etc.). Further important topics were handling and sharing of intellectual property rights (IPR) as well as issues relating to Access and Benefits Sharing (ABS). Finally, the workshop aimed at identifying interest for the development of strategic partnerships (with private sector, key institutions and decision makers) within African countries in the application of the timber tracking technologies and thereby exploring avenues for collaboration and up-scaling the GTTN initiative between demand and supply side countries for effective wood traceability systems.
Hauke Brankamp from the German Embassy in Cameroon opened the meeting by stressing the importance of an active network in the timber producing countries. His call was enthusiastically answered by the ca. 25 participants coming from across the continent, and bringing experiences from within research institutes, local authorities, policy, NGO’s, as well as private companies.
After an introduction to GTTN’s concept and activities (Jo Van Brusselen, GTTN Project Coordinator), and some insights to the role African stakeholders play within the network (Gesche Schifferdecker, GTTN Communications Manager), Marius Ekué (Bioversity representative in Cameroon and GTTN Steering Committee member) discussed local capacities and made quite clear that an investment in capacity building and technology transfer (especially to the Congo Basin countries) are needed. An adoption of timber tracking technologies requires the development of skills, knowledge and tools, but also the possibility to apply the tools directly in the producing countries.