Kinshasa, DRC, 13 February 2024: The Congo Basin Science Initiative has officially joined the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). The Basin Science Initiative is now one of 127 member countries and organizations working together in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership to promote sustainable resource management, combat climate change and its impacts, improve living conditions and protect the unique biodiversity of Central Africa’s tropical forest.
The College of International NGOs of the CBFP mobilized, in close line with the Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany of the CBFP, Dr. Christian Ruck
The Largest participation of the Members ever of the international NGOs CBFP College and revitalization of the process towards a common position of the Partnership CBFP and way forward, in the framework of this Important ‘year of biodiversity and forests, climate’ with major international conferences: EU/China summit ; EU/Africa summit ; CBD and UNFCCC process as Important opportunity to promote the profile of the Congo Basin and the CBFP and key /Important that the Congo Basin presents with a common voice at these conferences.
The participants exchanged intensively on the following different articulations of the agenda as below:
- Co Leaders Welcome Remarks
- Federal Republic of Germany CBFP Facilitator Remarks - Synthesis of the CBFP Facilitation Road Map; process for collecting ideas and statements from CBFP´s members; Agenda of CBFP
- Covid 19 and Conservation activities in Congo Basin
- Nature conservation and Human right in Congo Basin
- Next steps
Please find here below the Co-Leaders Notes from CBFP INGO College virtual Meeting with the facilitator
Thanks Andrea Athanas for taking the notes
There were 37 participants. Andrea Athanas, Achille Djeagou, Alistair Pole, Alliance GSAC, Kenneth Angu, Thomas Breuer, Catherine Long, Charles Barber, Charles Bracke, Charly Facheux*, Christian Asanga, Dany Pokem**, Duclaire Mbouna, Elie Hakizumwami, Emma Stoke*, Francois Awounkeu, Fred Kumah, Ilka Herbinger, Iven Schad, Jean-Baptiste Deffontaines, Joe Eisen, Manfred Epanda, Mangouende, Marie-Ange Kalenga, Maud Salber, Mbitikon, Nadege Nzoyem, Clotilde Ngomba, Olivia Rickenbach, Paul Elkan, Paul Kariuki Ndanganga, Roger Fotso, Roland Melisch, Christian Ruck**
Charly Facheux, co-Leader of the College: After the opening of meeting and overview of the agenda the following points were mentioned relating to the agenda:
- Kenneth suggested merging the way forward and technical response with the note from the Facilitator and Emma specified that the focus of that agenda point is to agree a process rather than discuss the details of the technical response in detail.
- Marie-Ange Kalenga suggested discussing the formal and information responses of the government as part of the Covid 19 discussion.
Dr. Christian Ruck, Facilitator
- The Covid 19 situation has prevented planned travel to the region and to the US.
- Dr. Ruck completed his PhD on the Economic effects of protected areas in developing countries, or how to make a national park a development project. He served as a member of the German Bundestag and headed the Working Group on Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2013 he took up a KfW role in the Congo Basin working on developing projects supporting protected areas.
- The handover from the Belgian Facilitator at the end of 2019, and the taking over of the Facilitation on 1 January 2020. The Road Map has been developed and approved by the COMIFAC President in Office. There is continuing support for the N’Djamena process that was launched by the previous Facilitator and the support to transhumance and transboundary anti-poaching effort, as well as the China dialogue which is more important than ever. The German facilitation is dominated by the EU Africa Summit, the EU China Summit and the CBD and UNFCCC conferences. These present important opportunities for the Congo Basin, and the Facilitator envisages the CBFP as a means of providing a clear and common voice from the Congo Basin at these global platforms. Coming together with one voice also presents the opportunity to create some discipline in coming together to create a shared declaration. The primary focus over next months is to prepare a declaration from the Partnership. In Douala many members expressed an interest to strengthen communication within, between and from the Colleges. It is therefore the purpose of the technical questionnaire is to gather structured input from the Colleges for input into the Declaration and backup information that will substantiate the points made in the Declaration. The normal agenda would have been to collect responses, convene the Council at the end of May and discuss the feedback through workshops and prepare the Declaration which would then be shared at the Member meeting at the end of the year. The German Ministry would then have invited the Congo Basin Ministers to Berlin to announce the Declaration to the world. But this timeline has now shifted with Covid 19. The EU summits with China and with Africa as well as other meetings (e.g. the IUCN World Conservation Congress) are postponed. Another effort that is being proposed is a donor mapping of the support going to protected areas and conservation throughout the region. There is a need to support biodiversity on one hand and the forests of the basin on the other. On biodiversity, there is an initiative of the German government to provide long term finance to protected areas and landscapes which would be particularly well suited to supporting the region. The Glasgow meeting input is targeting an effort to support payments to the region for ecosystem services from the Congo Basin forests. The International NGO college is particularly important for this road map. Dany Pokem is responsible as coach for the College during the facilitation. The Facilitator has received 7 declarations of interest from the College. The contributions can be submitted by 1 July so as to enable the Facilitator to prepare by summer holidays.
- Questions raised by the College members:
- Emma Stokes asked how the Facilitator would like the inputs from the College members and whether there is an expectation of how the College will compile inputs. Response – the points of interest in the questionnaire are indicative, and other thoughts are also welcome. The most important points are insights into what is needed to conserve the forests of the Congo Basin, to secure land use, and to finance conservation as well as pre-conditions of the Congo Basin countries. It is not sufficient to call for more protected areas, integration of local communities, or support in light of Covid, but really need to have the rationale behind the big points from International NGO perspective. There are many projects with success stories as well as failures and we need to know how we can do better…what is necessary administratively, and politically to get support for protected areas, to get financial flows (e.g. through payments for ecosystem services). Its not necessary for everyone to answer every question, but the Facilitation is looking for your experiences. We also need to discuss in the college and between the colleges.
- Marie Ange from Fern asked how the College will be able to consult with local CSO partners in the Basin to ensure inclusiveness of the CBFP membership. How will the Facilitation enable those who are left with no/limited connection to input into the process. Response: the Facilitator is struggling to have access to members of the CSO college given the Covid 19 situation. The initial idea was to discuss the issues in the College and then discuss across the other Colleges. CSO are an important College, and they are working in some difficulty at this point in time…and how to reach them. Raymond Mbitikon, the new CBFP Facilitator is coaching and supporting CSO inputs.
- Covid 19 situation and response: Fred Kumah provide a report of meeting with African Protected Area Directors and the impacts of Covid 19 and responses: The protected areas have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, with key issues including impacts on patrols, community engagement, and wildlife surveys. There are no standards and guidelines for protected area responses, there is a desire for a protected area network to come together share lessons and develop an emergency preparedness policy and guidelines and lobby governments to invest more in nature conservation at the center of crisis response. There is also a call to look across multiple sectors for a cohesive response. AWF will share the final report with the CBFP Membership. Paul Elkan of WCS pointed out that responses are different across the continent depending on different ecosystems, and that there is community awareness going on around different protected areas. Marie Ange pointed out that logging operations have been impacted, and independent forest monitoring work been affected. The impact of any crisis on logging activities and forest management needs further investigation. The European Parliament is discussing issues of disruptions of governance and management in the forest systems and how to sustain systems in times of crisis. Roland Melisch from TRAFFIC pointed out the continuation of trade, though at a reduced level, and the continued efforts to monitor trade through TWIX across the region. Field visits and capacity building have been impacted, but the web-based instruments are still working supported by webinars for capacity building. Kenneth Angu of IUCN clarified the connection between the protected area meeting and the Africa Protected Areas Congress.
- Human Rights: Marie Ange alerted the group to the statement that Fern and a group of other organizations made to the European Commission. The paper will be shared with the Membership. The College will come together to share approaches to addressing rights in the course of our work and to consolidating our response to those aspects of the technical questionnaire ( statement about the EU’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and déclaration sur la réponse mondiale de l’UE à la crise du COVID-19)
- Nadege asked what the role of the agro-industries in the Facilitation Plan. This is very much part of the plan of the Facilitation going forward.
- Way Forward: Iven Schad from BMZ expressed gratitude to the International NGO College for the discussion, and stressed the importance of substantive responses to the technical questionnaire to provide input into the Declaration but also to vitalize the council meetings and get a sense of where there is broader interest among the Colleges and stimulate future discussions. Regarding the level of ambitions in the Declarations, there is an aim to have honest Declarations that lead to meaningful contributions to agreements on what each stakeholder group can do to contribute to a solution.
- Closing remarks: Emma Stokes, Co Leader, thanked the Facilitator for his presentation and to the Members of the College for the largest participation ever of the College and revitalizes the process towards the Declaration and way forward. Please also keep us involved through virtual interactions in the absence of being able to meet in person.
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