U.S. Ambassy Cameroun- Congo Basin Partners for civil society
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On June 17, Congo Basin Facilitator based at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Matthew Cassetta and U.S. Embassy Yaounde Cultural Affairs Officer Merlyn Schultz delivered speeches to civil society members on the margins of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) meeting at the Palais de Congres in Yaounde.
The key objectives of the weeklong event sponsored by the U.S. Department of State are to emphasize the importance of economic growth in a sustainable and ecologically friendly way, to discuss the challenges, best practices, and ways forward in developing a green economy in the Congo Basin, highlight the potential of the region’s impressive biodiversity and ecological richness in improving the livelihoods of local communities, and providing benefits for Central African countries and global citizens.
The United States of America is implementing efforts to develop a green economy and sustainable development through environmentally-sound policies on energy, climate change, water, oceans, and conservation. Key participants of the CBFP program this week include the Communauté Économique des États de l'Afrique Centrale (CEEAC), Crelicam, the Jane Goodall Institute, Ikompani (a private sector partner), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Model Forests, The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance, Taylor Guitars, and the world Wildlife Federation (WWF).
In her remarks, Ms. Schultz reaffirmed President Obama’s message that promoting and protecting civil society are essential components of strengthening democratic institutions. “It is one of the four pillars of U.S. foreign policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States has furthered this objective through high-level diplomatic engagement, institution building, and programs that develop the capacity of judiciaries, legislatures, the media, and civil society. We are proud to partner with the Government and the people of Cameroon to promote our mutually shared objectives of peace, prosperity, security, economic development, promoting education, health, and more areas of cooperation. At the heart of all these efforts stands our commitment to the citizens of this great nation, whose voices are represented by civil society leaders like you.
All nations which seek to advance, including the United States, must continue to amplify and support voices calling for respect for human rights, rule of law, accountability, and a free and independent media. When all voices are listened to and respected, society at large benefits. The empowerment of women and girls is also necessary to promote development. No society can fully advance and develop if over half the population is left behind. The immense talents and contributions of women must be actively sought and welcomed in every sector. The United States is proud to encourage the efforts of civil society because you invite constructive debate and lift the voices of Cameroonians who promote Cameroonian solutions to Cameroonian challenges,” she said.
Ms. Schultz added that the U.S. Embassy, like the wider U.S. government, considers its engagement with civil society to be just as important as its engagement with governments. “In the United States and abroad, we count on civil society organizations like yourselves to partner with governments. Your role is to fill needs that government cannot fill, to help government identify needs it can fill, and to help citizens identify resources - either from government or from non-governmental organizations - that they need.”
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