The success of the CBFP questioned and affirmed before the American Congress
Washington, 29th September 2009 - The ICCF Forum (International Conservation Caucus Foundation), whose ambition was to bring together the Heads of State of Central African countries and members of CBFP/COMIFAC in an effort to reanimate US Congressional and governmental support for the objectives of the CBFP, espeically through the CARPE program, has achieved its goals.
The organizers praised the active and joyful participation of African partners during two roundtables; the first on the role of the United States in the CBFP and the second on the impact of climate change and REDD prospects for the Congo Basin. These discussions were actually stepped up by the presence of Presidents Denis SASSOU Nguesso (Rep. of Congo) and Fradique DE MENEZES (Sao Tome and Principe), Prime Minister Faustin-Archangel TOUADERA (RCA), Ministers Emmanuel BIZOT (RCA), Henri DJOMBO (Rep. Congo), Jose ENDUNDO BONONGE (DRC), Georgette KOKO (Gabon), MOUSSA FAKI Mahamat (Chad), Elvis NGOLLE NGOLLE (CAM). Representatives of COMIFAC countries have equally took advantage of the dinner debate offered in the evening to have direct exchanges with a dozen parliamentarians of the American Congress.
Roundtable with (from left to right) Minister Endundo (DRC), President De Menezes (Sao Tome and Principe) President Sassou (Congo), Prime Minister Delegate Koko (Gabon) and Minister Ngolle (Cameroon)
Photograph: Hans Schipulle
In his speech, Prime Minister Touadera of Central African Republic, speaking on behalf of the Presidency of COMIFAC, underlined the particular quality of the institutional framework of COMIFAC/CBFP for co-operation in Central Africa. In order to give added value this unique partnership, it would be important to strengthen the structures of COMIFAC, and to steer the activities of the CBFP towards the current challenges such as the negotiations on REDD and the impacts of the global financial crisis. The Presidency of COMIFAC encouraged donors to use CBFP to look for synergies and to work towards the participation of all actors involved in the economic, ecological and social issues. He applauded the inputs of international NGOs within the framework of the CARPE program and asked donors to redouble their support to strengthen national structures and in the implementation of reforms in the forest sector of COMIFAC countries. The Congolese President Sassou, while referring to the decisions of Congo Basin countries concerning the protection of large areas of their forests, expressed the expectation of the countries, that is, to see to it that the negotiations on REDD result to a reliable compensation system that would enable them to preserve the environmental functions of forest ecosystems.
The messages and conclusions retained during the roundtable were completed by a bicameral hearing of the American Congress on the state and prospects of the CBFP. All participants were aware of the importance of the Forum for determining sustained US American economic support to the CBFP, at a time where the American programs enter a new phase for implementing the concept of land use planning in the field. Kerri-Ann Jones (US State Department), Hans Schipulle (PFBC Facilitator), Carter Roberts (President WWF-US) and Michael Fay (WCS) were questioned before the Congress Parliamentarians, a large audience of African and American parties and newspapers.
During the hearing before the members of the American congress (on the left): Mike Fay (WCS), Carter Roberts (President WWF-US), Hans Schipulle (Facilitator CBFP) (on the right) Edward Royce (member of parliament, California) and Gary Tanners (Senator Alabama)
Photograph: Martin Tadoum
The CBFP Facilitator, M. Hans Schipulle underlined the experiences gathered in several years of international cooperation for sustainable forests management. He highlighted the importance of tackling the driving forces of forests' degradation outside the forest sector as well. The success of such approaches lies on a strong political will, without underestimating external financial needs. While answering questions at the congressional hearing, he listed the achievements of the CBFP in steering the activities of its partners - based on the Convergence Plan - towards a balanced approach that reconciles the integrity of ecosystems with economic and social development needs of the countries. He also evoked the positive effects of dialogue among countries of the Congo Basin in international negotiations, supported by the CBFP, and of the trans-border co-operation within the framework of COMIFAC. The members of parliament focused especially on the China-Africa dialogue and the recent steps taken by the CBFP in this regard. He concluded that: "The CBFP will continue promoting dialogue on the best management approaches of precious ecosystems and contributing to the capacity building of the various actors in order to implement the strategy of the Yaoundé Declaration ".