Conclusions of the 8th CCR meeting in Kinshasa
Please download the complete report of the 8th CCR (only available in French)
Kinshasa, 28 September 2010 - The 8th meeting of the Regional Consultative Commitee (CCR) of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), hosted by the Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism of DRC, took place in Kinshasa from September 27 to 28. This regional statutory meeting has been marked by the official hand-over of the facilitation from Germany to Canada, a thematic session on sustainable management of forest ecosystems in drylands and forest plantations and planning arrangements for the third environment summit of Central Africa's Head of States in 2011. Please find below the conclusions as read out by the new facilitator Gaston Grenier during the closing session:
In his opening address the outgoing facilitator, Hans Schipulle, underlined the major progress made towards the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the Congo Basin and the huge challenges ahead. He thanked all the CBFP members for their support during the German period of facilitation. Mr Raymond Mbitikon, COMIFAC’s Executive Secretary, His Excellency José Endundo Bononge, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and His Excellency Emmanuel Bizot, Minister for Water, Forestry, Hunting and Fisheries of the Central African Republic, reiterated their commitment to the convergence priorities proposed by COMIFAC. They also applauded the efforts of the outgoing facilitator Hans Schipulle during his period in office, looking forward to his continued involvement with the Congo Basin forests.
• Third Central African Forest Summit (Yaoundé +10) : CBFP warmly welcomed the marked willingness of the DRC minister to organise the Heads of State Summit on Tropical Forests in June 2011. We listened with great interest to the idea of structuring this event on two fronts. The intention is firstly to encourage renewed consultation and confirmation efforts among Central African states to underline the region’s commitment to environmental issues, currently at the top of the international agenda. The second aim is to make the Summit a solemn occasion to showcase the region as a responsible player involved in questions of global importance before an international audience.
• Implementing the Convergence Plan / Autonomous Financing Mechanism: Problems exist that may hamper the work of the COMIFAC Executive Secretariat. These concern the Secretariat’s mandate to advise countries, how the national committees operate, the reporting system for monitoring, and the COMIFAC Executive Secretariat’s human resource capacity. Congratulations are due to all those who are working hard, despite these problems, to implement the convergence plan, with the Executive Secretariat often working in difficult (physical) conditions. There is a link between the problems experienced in implementing the convergence plan and other problems within the region, such as national ownership and autonomous financing. It is vital to identify solutions that enable action to be taken, moving from a mindset of providing sporadic support for projects towards long-term planning and political strategies. As regards the lack of transparency in monitoring projects and disclosing their results, CBFP members are asked to step up reporting efforts. This will make the support provided to COMIFAC more effective and ensure a more balanced implementation of the convergence plan.
• The efforts of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to clarify the institutional relations between itself and COMIFAC are to be commended. According to the Assistant Executive Secretary of ECCAS, the mechanism for disbursing funds should become operational in 2011, and we understand that you are set to allocate around 300 million FCFA from the ECCAS budget to COMIFAC. This equates to the level of commitments currently undertaken by the ten member states. COMIFAC needs more resources, but it is clearly necessary to cultivate good relations with finance ministers and even with heads of state if additional state funding is to be obtained. CBFP members assured the COMIFAC Executive Secretary and ECCAS that many partners are prepared to apply the necessary pressure to implement a stable, autonomous financing mechanism, so as to avoid falling into the common trap of sporadic funding, whether from ECCAS or CBFP members.
• VPA – FLEGT: Significant progress has been made in negotiations, with all five forest states (Congo, Cameroon, DRC, CAR and Gabon) now engaged in the process, although at different stages. It is important to note that this is not a competition to see who can sign first. Some countries may have more difficult issues to resolve (e.g. transit) or may already be taking steps towards implementing the voluntary partnership agreement (VPA), although they are yet to sign the formal agreement. What is important is that the whole region is working towards improved governance, and this regional approach could well develop into regional negotiations between the EU and countries within the sub-region when the VPAs come up for renewal. Certification (private sector) and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) are complementary rather than overlapping. The consumer market is demanding more information on the source of tropical timber, and while FLEGT outputs facilitate access to international markets, certification is a tool for boosting sales. Together, these two mechanisms provide a choice between countries and professionals if these markets wish to promote them in parallel. The ultimate objective of these initiatives is still to reconcile the objectives of conservation, management and development, determining how best to utilise and exploit the resource and how to improve access to markets. If these objectives are to be truly reconciled, it is essential that all stakeholders are involved right from the outset of negotiations.
• Climate negotiations / improved understanding of the objective of the Paris-Oslo process, which is running in parallel to negotiations for a new protocol and aims to galvanise commitment and expedite the necessary funding in order to protect carbon stocks until a proper mechanism is in place. Thanks are due to all the partners who are supporting COMIFAC and working to build negotiating capacity, because the message, as stated by Messrs Bizot and Endundo, is clear: it is imperative to go to Cancun with a united position. The CBFP would like a new regional stance to be finalised at the next Council of Ministers, which is due to be held a few weeks before the Cancun Summit. Thanks should also go to Landing Mane for his presentation on satellite measurement, reporting and verification tools. It helped improve our general understanding of the technical capacities that need to be implemented and the requirements for calculating/monitoring carbon stocks. This will ultimately be used as the scientific basis for negotiations on future financing through REDD.
• Sustainable management of dry forests and plantations. This is a subject that we do not often discuss, even though half of Central Africa’s ground cover consists of dry forests, savannah and cultivated forest. Thank you to everyone who took part, and hopefully this will not be the last time that this subject is discussed at a CBFP meeting, particularly since there are different aspects to be addressed: Finding out more about forest policy issues in ‘dry’ countries such as Burundi; learning how to integrate the management of all types of land, including forest, into national development plans (DRC); looking at examples/lessons in the fields of rehabilitation, restoration, deferred grazing and reforestation, examining these subjects in as much detail as possible to see what works and what does not. The original concept outline of the session focused more on this last aspect, but since this was the first time the subject had been tackled, the variety of presentations was also very constructive. It was noted that rehabilitation was gaining ground and that the frontier is moving towards the savannah, with improvements in areas, densities and diversity. The success of straightforward deferred grazing was also noted, as was the forest’s capacity to recover. To maintain bans on cutting timber (for fire wood), it is necessary to provide alternative fuel options. At the same time, we need to clarify the financial implications to ensure support projects are sustainable. We need to define the legal and administrative framework to manage and make best use of the financial returns and pay the protection bonus, which is deemed essential.Plantations: The objective for plantations must be determined by all the participants right from the start. We must avoid getting into arguments regarding exotic species such as Eucalyptus that can generate significant revenue, but it is important to choose a species that is suited to the objective and the soil. Plantations are always artificial, so it is essential to determine what the intended purpose is. Finally, considereing the socio-economic importance of dryland forests, we must continue to include this subject on the COMIFAC / CBFP agenda.
• Status of implementing transboundary protected areas. Cross-border management is a tool for harmonising policies. TNS: Implementing protected cross-border areas requires considerable support from various institutional and statutory bodies, and implementation activities need coordinating. The management of natural resources is dependent on the participation of local actors.TRIDOM: The problems of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trading require a coordinated approach. The challenges and opportunities associated with mining warrant special attention. More detailed consideration is needed on how to transform mining projects into conservation opportunities. It is important that the GEF release funding to promote planned activities. Thanks to GTZ, GEF and France, the Sine-Oura and Bouba Ndjidha protected cross-border area is being created between Chad and Cameroon. Congo’s Minister for the Environment and Forest Economy called for commitment from the ministers of TNS member states, the promotion of ecotourism, the recruitment of conservation personnel and the control of environmental crime. He encouraged donors and states to promote specific actions and increase conservation budgets.
• Comments on the German-Canadian evaluation and the Canadian roadmap. The evaluation was well received. Some subjects that were mentioned in the previous evaluation are still relevant (consensus building, defining the concept of ‘support’, communication and reporting system, and discrimination by countries in providing support). The efforts of the German facilitation team have enabled progress to be made on many issues, but this hard work needs to be maintained. CBFP members have welcomed Canada’s initiative to focus on poverty reduction, which will be particularly valuable if its facilitation succeeds in involving all the stakeholders capable of influencing this issue, especially civil society networks. Rio+20 will be a crucial event on the agenda of the Canadian facilitation team. The Canadian facilitation team noted a warning by partners not to confuse COMIFAC capacity building with a tendency to pre-empt, because all too often – keen to manage an initiative well or ensure a project is successful – partners are too inclined to pre-empt. Germany’s appeal on this subject was heeded. Only partners who are autonomous can be true partners, each able to freely engage in discussion in order to advance common causes.
All documents related to the CCR meeting are available for download on http://www.cbfp.org/rapports/items/ccr8-kinshasa-fr.html