IUCN-PACO: FIPAC 3 – Celebrating the traditional know-how of Central Africa’s indigenous peoples and local communities: Impfondo 2014 - The foundation for a bright future
As a wise African once said, nothing great in this world is achieved without a dream. Similar to a tale told to a community at sunset under a great oak tree in the forest of Africa, FIPAC, the International Forum on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities of Central Africa which was established by the Republic of Congo, is the first step towards developing a tool for communicating, promoting and marketing the traditional know-how of indigenous as well as local communities. It is a platform to discuss advances made in Central Africa in leveraging traditional know-how in the use of biological and non-biological resources.
History has turned a new leaf. From 4 to 7 March 2014, the completely renovated and modernized FIPAC village located in the heart of the Likouala division in northern Congo hosted its third edition entitled: "Indigenous peoples, Traditional know-how and Green economy in Central Africa" under the aegis of ECCAS, REPALEAC, COMIFAC, and the Republic of Congo. FIPAC 3 witnessed a strong turnout of indigenous and local communities from across the sub-region. Also in attendance were Ministers in charge of Environment and Forests of the ECCAS member States, development partners, NGOs and delegates from indigenous peoples from various countries; academics, politicians and the highest authorities in the three States. In fact, the Forum was graced by the presence of three African Heads of State, Denis SASSOU-N’GUESSO of Congo, Idriss DEBY ITNO of Chad, doubling as Chairman of ECCAS and Boni YAYI of Benin and Chairman the African Union.
In addition to festivities featuring performances by several traditional dance groups, the event offered broad market exposure for the products of traditional know-how. FIPAC 3 aimed to assess progress on the recommendations of FIPAC 2, validate the traditional know-how economy in Central Africa and the Program for the traditional know-how economy in Central Africa and the handover of FIPAC management to ECCAS.
There were three main highlights, namely: (i) the opening ceremony of the technical segment chaired by Minister Henri DJOMBO in charge of Forestry, Economy and Sustainable Development of Congo (ii) group brainstorming in which members discussed several themes, including traditional know-how, the legal and institutional framework and diplomacy, traditional issues and business, research, capacity building and innovation, partnership and finances and lastly non-timber forest products, (iii) the signing ceremony of the agreement marking the inauguration and official handover of the FIPAC site to ECCAS by the Congolese government. In an official ceremony, the two leaders affixed their signatures to the official document in the presence of Boni Yayi, Chairperson of the African Union and many guests. Lastly was the high-level meeting of ECCAS Ministers in charge of forestry and indigenous peoples, opened by President Denis SASSOU-N’GUESSO.
At the close of the deliberations, the meeting adopted a working framework embodied in the validation of a post- FIPAC 3 roadmap, and especially a ministerial declaration reflecting the commitment of countries in the subregion to FIPAC as a tool to foster integration and development by establishing appropriate legal and institutional mechanisms. These mechanisms would be aimed at ensuring development and promotion of the traditional know-how economy which contributes to sustainable development and improving the living standards of indigenous peoples and local communities.
The rest of the story is all about meeting challenges simply because the materialization of the FIPAC dream is a rallying cry for all communities to converge around the battery of recommendations formulated. Some of these challenges include: maintenance of the site, fund raising, improving the legal framework, capacity building, elaborating a program for the development of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional know-how etc. In short, a set of mechanisms to ensure optimal development of the green economy based on the traditional know-how of Central Africa’s indigenous peoples and local communities.
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Technical Assistant CEFDHAC
IUCN-PACO Cameroon Country Program
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
(1) from top to bottom: © Photo taken by Parfait BAKABANA from IUCN
(2) from top to bottom: © Photo taken by Jérôme NGUEFACK from PACEBCo