COMIFAC- Shanghai international forum: COMIFAC goes on charm offensive
Shanghai, Republic of China, 21-25 October 2019- More than three hundred and fifty delegates including about sixty members of the International Technical Tropical Timber Association (ITTTA), sixty conference speakers and panelists took part in the 21st ITTTA forum. COMIFAC was represented at the gathering by Mr. Georges Moucharou, 2nd Technical Adviser at the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and representative of the Acting President, Raymond Ndomba Ngoye, Executive Secretary and Mr. Valery Tchuante, a monitoring and evaluation expert.
Participants at the forum discussed ways of raising the visibility of productive forests and increasing their contribution to climate change mitigation and sustainable development. They reviewed the private sector’s role in climate change and development, identified issues relating to legality and sustainability of global timber supply chains and debated the challenges and benefits of supply and demand trends in timber supply chains around the world. The highlights of the event included: the Opening ceremony with a speech delivered by the Gabonese Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea and the Environment, in charge of the Climate and Land Use Plan, Lee White, a statement from Minster Eva Mueller and remarks by the Congolese Minister of the Forest Economy, Rosalie Matondo, delivered via videoconference; a visit to the timber museum; visits to businesses such as Treessun, Sunnyard, Starforest; and a variety of enriching talks.
COMIFAC’s aim in attending the forum was to promote dialogue, experience-sharing and best practices in legal and sustainable supply of timber by Central African countries on the international market. Specific aims were to: (I) buttress COMIFAC’s sub-regional positions on the items on the agenda of the Forum and other events of relevance to Central Africa; (ii) raise the profile of COMIFAC and its member countries at the Forum; (iii) highlight the value and promote the experience of COMIFAC countries in the legal and sustainable supply of timber on the international market, all in compliance with NDCs and the Paris Climate Accord; (iv) pave the way for discussions on establishing a platform for dialogue and networking to raise the profile of Central Africa and get China (notably the GGCS and Chinese companies) more involved in the conservation and sustainable management of Central Africa’s forest ecosystems.
It is currently estimated that over 50% of sales of African forest products go to China. Chinese consumers’ interest in tropical timber remains high and demand is set to increase significantly.
Often little is known of Chinese companies’ (importers in China or producers in tropical countries) plans for the future.
According to the ITTTA which has been working for several years on forest management issues in Africa, as well as legality and certification, there is a crucial need to establish dialogue with the main Chinese players.