Final Communiqué of the 16th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership 21-25 November 2016 – Kigali, Rwanda
Please download here below the Final Communiqué of the 16th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership 21-25 November 2016 – Kigali, Rwanda.
On 21-25 November 2016, the Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, for their 16th meeting. The Parties expressed their sincere appreciation to the Rwandan host authorities for their hospitality and for their contribution to the successful outcome of this first Meeting of the Parties of CBFP in Rwanda.
The meeting gathered around 450 participants from countries of the Congo Basin, international organizations, research institutions, the private sector and NGOs. The opening ceremony was graced by the Honorable Dr Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources in Rwanda, accompanied by Mrs Rosalie Matondo, the Minister of Forestry Economy and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Congo, Mrs Francesca di Mauro, Head of Unit for Central Africa at the European Commission, Dr Daniel Reifsnyder, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Environment and His Excellency Raymond Mbitikon, Executive Secretary of COMIFAC. Keynote speeches were delivered by Mr Anders Henriksson, EU Facilitator of the CBFP, by Mr Kaddu Sebunya, President of the African Wildlife Foundation and by Mr Praveen Moman, Founder and CEO of Volcanoes Safaris.
The meeting opened with a technical segment consisting of five thematic (Streams) which benefitted by inaugural statements by His Excellency Mr. Henri Djombo, Minister of State, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Republic of Congo and Mr. Armand Guy Zounguere-Sokambi, Vice President of the Development Bank of Central African States (BDEAC). These Streams were followed by a political segment consisting of meetings of the newly established CBFP Colleges and the inaugural session of the CBFP Council followed by a concluding high-level plenary session.
There was also an Exhibition Space and a number of related side-events.
The main outcomes of the proceedings were the following:
- Parties agreed on the need to reinvigorate CBFP cooperation, notably by high-lighting the added value of the Partnership, by attributing more credit and visibility to this common regional platform and by taking common responsibility for its functioning and development;
- The new cooperation structures, the CBFP colleges and the CBFP Council, have been established and started to function. These structures are intended to reinforce the possibilities for dialogue and exchanges within a partnership, whose membership has grown substantially since its inception;
- An updated version of the CBFP Cooperation Framework, reflecting the creation of the new cooperation structures, was adopted;
- Parties agreed to initiate a structured dialogue in the colleges and Council of CBFP with a view to arrive at a clear description of the priorities on which partners agree to focus CBFP cooperation during the coming 3-5 year period to be adopted at the next Meeting of Parties.
- In order to increase the impact of Partnership action on the decisions that affect the forests of the Congo Basin, Parties agreed to:
- seek ways of engaging with other key sectors beyond forestry and environment, such as agriculture, mining and petroleum exploration and exploitation;
- promote a significantly strengthened engagement of the Partnership with private sector entities;
- Parties expressed concern about the current financial challenges facing COMIFAC and ECCAS and for securing a sustainable basis for the financing of these regional organisations reflecting the ownership of their Member States.
- Parties also called attention to the urgent need to clearly specify the respective roles and the practical working relationship between COMIFAC and ECCAS, as a means to enhance the effectiveness of regional cooperation on issues pertinent to the Congo Basin forests;
- The thematic streams produced a number of recommendations on key issues of relevance to the protection and sustainable management of the Congo Basin forests, including climate change, as well as a number of other documents and tools of value to CBFP partners. The main recommendations are set out below. More comprehensive texts can be found in the Attachment to this communiqué.
Forest management policies and land use planning
Across all of the forested countries of the Congo Basin, threats to the forests are coming more and more from non-forestry sectors: conversion of the forest for agro-industrial plantations, the growth of the mining sector, the development of transport infrastructure, etc. With regard to this, the partners are unanimous in recognising that the future of the Congo Basin forests will depend largely on the political choices that will be made by States in terms of land use and that land use planning strategies are therefore a determining factor today.
In implementing these strategies, which will necessarily happen at inter-sectoral level, it is essential that States make use of the macro- and micro-zonage exercises that have already been underway for many years in the forestry sector. Land use planning policies must be compatible with the preservation of local and global eco-systemic functions, and must be a high political priority. They must also be supported by information management tools that are transparent and accessible to all stakeholders. The role of OFAC in the elaboration and integrated management of these tools at regional level must equally be confirmed by the States of the sub-region and must benefit from financial and technical engagement from all of the CBFP partners.
Management approaches and rapid response mechanisms in protected areas
In response to the growing gravity of poaching and wildlife trafficking in the sub-region, the participants consider that it is necessary to provide protected areas with a rapid response and dissuasion mechanism working with law enforcement, military and intelligence services, according to the specific stability and security conditions in each country. This must also include the question of capacity building, of putting in place social security systems adapted to the particular security situation of park rangers, and of involving the local communities. This new vision of protected area management and of the fight against poaching must also go hand in hand with updates of relevant policies, texts, laws and professional tools.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the management of protected areas
In addition to the other economic alternatives to be promoted inside and outside of protected areas, Public Private Partnerships were highlighted as a model, which has proven that it can be successful under the right circumstances.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies
COMIFAC should provide support to its member countries in the process of revising their NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions), building on the experiences and achievements of existing programs. To this end, there is a need to put in place a sub-regional facility aiming to improve the access of COMIFAC countries to climate funds. Partners are requested to promote geographical balance in the distribution of climate finance resources.
CBFP partners are invited to help Central African countries in their efforts to transform agriculture into opportunities to fight climate change, feed populations, provide job opportunities for youth and insure a balanced development of agribusiness models.
The sustainability of climate funding, most notably with regard to adaptation issues, should be a specific priority in platforms for exchange and dialogue between COMIFAC member states and their partners.
Involvement of the private sector
An increase in the involvement of private sector actors is needed within the Partnership, both for forest operators and more broadly for other actors operating in forested areas. To this end, the CBFP must actively encourage the countries of the region to increase the security of the legal environment, in order to allow private operators to invest. Transparency and the sharing of data related to the public management of natural resources, as well as the involvement of private operators in land use planning are other elements that could work to strengthen investor confidence.
The FLEGT approach, in which several countries in the region are engaged, should be used as appropriate to enhance transparency and enable the development of pragmatic, efficient, and easily usable traceability tools for operators.
New instruments to neutralize the environmental impact of the agri-food sector in forest areas are currently being developed. The COMIFAC Member States must integrate such tools, and the partnership must work to promote and disseminate them. Essentially, it is becoming necessary to create innovative frameworks that reconcile conservation objectives with private sector standards and planning.
The small and medium enterprises exploiting and commercialising wood or non-timber forest products need to be better included in the legislative framework and text system and recognised as economic actors.
Education and research
OFAC has a key role to play in centralising and circulating the results of projects and research activities, by way of policy briefs, dedicated web pages on its website, and promotion of dedicated social media.
The countries of COMIFAC and the CBFP partners are requested to strengthen their support to applied research and to education and training. Universities and training institutions should liaise with the private sector to develop training schemes adapted to the specific needs of private sector actors involved in the management of natural resources.
For more Information, please download here below the Final Communiqué of the 16th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership 21-25 November 2016 – Kigali, Rwanda.
Image: Raoul SEUMENI et Jerome GUEFACK