CBFP MOP19 Climate Focus Side Event: Key Messages and Insights
The Climate Focus side event, entitled “The Forest Declaration Assessment - How to achieve the 2030 goals in the Congo Basin” took place on 5 July 2022 during the 19th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Following a brief overview of the project, five regional experts took the floor in a string of presentations on a variety of forestry-related topics.
The Forest Declaration Assessment is an annual evaluation of global progress towards forest goals, conducted in partnership with a network of NGOs and civil society think tanks. The annual reports review progress made and formulate recommendations for global decision-makers. A regional pilot of the Forest Declaration Assessment was introduced in the region in 2022 in response to new forest commitments announced at COP26 in November 2021, particularly as concerns the Congo Basin forests. The Forest Declaration Assessment will release its regional report on the status of forest policy in the Congo Basin at COP27 in collaboration with an unofficial network of local and national civil society experts.
The side event began with a brief overview of the project, followed by a series of presentations delivered by five regional experts on various forest-related topics. First to speak, Nicolas Bayol, Director of Studies at FRMi-RIOFAC, gave an opening speech on the priorities for Congo Basin forests. In his introduction, Mr Bayol described the region’s incredibly diverse forest mass, featuring forests with varying degrees of susceptibility to climate change and human pressures. He observed that while the rate of deforestation and degradation was moderate in comparison to other areas, it was nevertheless rising, especially in some parts of the DRC, primarily owing to demographic pressure. He identified two top priorities for action: modernizing agriculture and the need for progress in developing a transparent and regulated land allocation system.
Next was Baudouin Michel, Director of the Postgraduate Regional School for Integrated Planning and Management of Tropical Forests and Territories (ERAIFT), who discussed internal and external drivers of deforestation in the Congo Basin. In his remarks, he recalled the region's carbon storage capacity, the Basin's role in capturing 5% of global emissions, and two leading causes of deforestation in the area: slash-and-burn agriculture and demand for firewood and charcoal. He also emphasized how important the agricultural sector is in finding a solution for forests, and the need to tackle the challenges presented by rapid urbanization and infrastructural demand.
The side event progressed with a speech by Aline Kana, Head of the Technical Secretariat of the Central African Forest Youth Network (REJEFAC). She began by introducing the network and its activities in the sub-region. She went on to suggest ways of increasing youth involvement in political decisions and interventions in the forest sector, in particular by boosting youth representation within decision-making bodies and spaces, as well as in implementation processes. She also underscored the need to design youth and women-friendly policies, strategies and funding programs, such as capacity-building, upskilling and refresher courses on emerging themes and develop job opportunities and prospects in connection with environmental conservation challenges.
Raphaël Tsanga, a CIFOR expert in environmental law and policy, took the floor next and discussed local and indigenous rights in relation to forest policies. He outlined three levels of action: (i) recognition of customary rights in various legal instruments; (ii) consideration of the socio-economic dimension in meeting communities’ vital needs; and (iii) social forestry schemes that combine both aspects. He brought up the crucial issue of lack of recognition of land rights, and highlighted the need to enshrine and effectively protect them.
Speaking last, Richard Eba'a Atyi, CIFOR regional coordinator, revisited the topic of forest declarations. He observed that commitments made in the New York Declaration to combat deforestation had had little impact on the ground and underscored the need to address donor coordination issues. He recalled that significant funds had been pledged to the sub-region over the next few years, adding that a fund monitoring and governance mechanism would be needed to ensure that the commitments are met.
The side event ended with a question-and-answer session, including a statement from Monique Yigbedek, Regional Coordinator of the Central African Women's Network for Sustainable Development (REFADD). In her remarks, she raised the issue of women's participation in decision-making and the need for community surveys to ascertain different levels of women’s participation that may be achievable, taking into account the habits and customs of the countries concerned.
For more information, please download the document below:
This thematic summary and Compendium serve to compile the discussions, recommendations and conclusions reached over 4 intensive days of work in thematic ateliers (Streams), plenary, side events and political discussions.
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