Minister of State François-Xavier de DONNEA, Belgian facilitator of the CBFP provides Gabon’s highest authorities with an overview of cross-border threats to the country’s forest resources and biodiversity.
From 5 to 8 March 2019, Minister of State François-Xavier de DONNEA, Belgian facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership conducted a working visit to the highest authorities of Gabon. The aim of the trip to Gabon was to review cross-border threats to Gabon’s forest resources and biodiversity and present the CBFP’s results and prospects in this regard.
The mission began with a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Guy Kambongo AbduRazzaq. After handing the documents on the CBFP’s operations and objectives to the Minister, the CBFP Facilitator touched on the issue of cross-border threats to Gabon’s forest resources and biodiversity. The Minister underscored the need for the Head of State to be personally invested in nature protection. He also expressed the view that stronger cross-border cooperation is vital and affirmed his determination to work to that end.
Following his discussion with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the CBFP Facilitator talked with the Vice-President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr. Pierre Maganga Moussavou who reaffirmed the commitment of the Head of State. He expressed the wish that logging companies and large plantations would invest in improving the livelihoods of local populations in their operating areas, especially improving their habitat. To Mr. Pierre Maganga Moussavou, the economic and social development of forest dwellers and people living in protected areas is a basic condition for their protection and survival.
The Minister of State for Forests, Environment and the Climate Plan, His Excellency Mr. Guy Mapangou agrees with his counterpart. During his meeting with the CBFP Facilitator, he highlighted various measures taken by the Head of State and the Government of Gabon to ensure sustainable logging.
In the afternoon, the Minister of State François-Xavier de DONNEA, Belgian Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership was received at UNOCA by Ambassador François Fall, Special Representative of the United Nations SG for Central Africa. The main issue discussed was security challenges facing biodiversity in the region.
Mr. Fall stressed the importance of the N'Djamena Declaration for UNOCA initiatives in this area, particularly with respect to transhumance and especially the activities of Mbororo pastoralists in the Central African Republic and northern DRC.
The day of 7 March ended with a meeting with the Deputy Secretary General of ECCAS, Ms. Marie-Thérèse Mfoula. During this meeting, the Facilitator and his delegation introduced the CBFP’s planned activities for the remainder of 2019 and requested ECCAS’ input on the way forward.
The highlight of the day of 6 March during this major tour conducted by the Facilitator was a meeting with Mr. Lee White, Executive Secretary of Gabon’s National Agency of National Parks. They discussed the issue of poaching and illegal logging in protected areas and also touched on the illegal gold mining which has grown and is causing mercury pollution in many rivers. Mr. White stressed the need to implement mechanisms to manage the growing influx of illegal "climate refugees" who are encroaching on the integrity of Gabonese forests and biodiversity.
On 8 March 2019, the CBFP Facilitator had a working meeting chaired by Ambassador Helmut Kulitz who was accompanied by Mr. Jean Huchon and Ignacio Sobrino from DUE and Ms. Muriel Soret from the French Embassy.
The talks were centered on the CBFP’s activities and projects.
The CBFP Facilitator’s mission to Gabon ended with a working luncheon with COMIFAC Executive Secretary, Mr. Ngoye and Ms. Jacqueline Van De Pol, ITTTA (International Technical Tropical Timber Association) representative in Libreville.
Ms. Van of POL pointed out that since last year, there is already a Chinese company member, and that ATIBT is pleased to see that many forest companies with Chinese capital start to engage in verified third party certification. If ATIBT organizes the ATIBT Forum in China, it is precisely to encourage and support these initiatives, as well as the Global Green Supply Chain initiative, which organizes a conference in Shanghai in the same week. The CBFP’s input would be undergirded by the deliberations of its Scientific and Private sector Colleges.