The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of the Congo Basin, met within the CBFP Civil Society College, represented by their Chairs and Regional Coordinators, are committed to speaking with one voice to promote the image of the Congo Basin at the national, regional and international levels. They support the Facilitation's roadmap and will spare no effort to contribute to its implementation.
Thus, the CSOs of the Congo Basin unanimously approved the CBFP roadmap, calling on the German Facilitation to accelerate the implementation of the Douala Declaration, which emerged from the CBFP Civil Society Day organized in December 2019 on the side-lines of the high-level meeting of the CBFP Governing Council. They also requested the Facilitation to advocate for more transparency with regard to the positioning of CSOs in the CAFI process and in the projects and programmes of implementing partners in the Congo Basin.
On 26 June 2020, all the members of the Congo Basin Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) college of the CBFP, represented by their Chairs and Regional Coordinators, took an active part in the virtual meeting with the German CBFP Facilitator, Honourable Dr. Christian Ruck.
The Meeting was moderated by Minister Mbitikon Raymond, CBFP Co-Facilitator.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Christian RUCK, the CBFP Facilitator, recalled the effects that the Covid-19 situation had created in his mission agenda under preparation in the sub-region. He hailed the remarkable attendance and organization of the members of the CBFP College of CSOs. The CBFP Facilitator stressed the importance and the crucial place of civil society organizations within the CBFP, as key actors in the field with proven expertise which is relevant to the Partnership as a whole. Presenting the CBFP Facilitation's roadmap, he laid special emphasis on its ambition to pursue the implementation of the N'Djamena Declaration, the one on the fight against poaching, and to strengthen the dialogue with China. Dr. Ruck presented the process leading to the adoption of a common position/declaration of the Congo Basin with regard to the major future international challenges. In this regard, he noted that his CBFP Facilitation is dominated by the EU-Africa Summit, the EU-China Summit and the CBD and UNFCCC conferences. These events offer great opportunities to the Congo Basin, and the Facilitator sees the CBFP as a means to ensure that the voice of the Congo Basin is heard clearly and in agreement in these global platforms. The Congo Basin is at the cross-road and the opportunities in terms of international challenges are at hand. It must seize them. Coming together to speak with one voice also offers the opportunity to create some discipline to better influence. With regard to the process towards a common Congo Basin position, the German CBFP Facilitator explained the need to continue the process of collecting responses to technical questions sent to CSOs, and that the deadline for the submission of contributions was set for 1 July, 2020. Before closing his remarks, Dr. Christian Ruck asked for the support of civil society organizations in the Congo Basin, emphasizing that the success of his Facilitation would depend on that.
Following the statement by Dr Christian Ruck, the German CBFP Facilitator, the floor was given to the Co-Leaders of the CBFP Civil Society College, namely His Majesty Honourable Essola Etoa Louis-Roger and Mr Nicaise Moulombi on the one hand, and on to members of the College on the other.
A summary of the contributions, intense and fruitful discussions is available below:
His Majesty, Honourable Essola Etoa Louis-Roger, Chairperson of the CEFDHAC Regional Steering Committee
On behalf of the Civil Society College, he congratulated Germany for assuming the CBFP Facilitation for the second time and announced the endorsement of by CSO College of the German CBFP Facilitation Roadmap. Thereafter, His Majesty Honourable Essola refreshed participants on the outcomes of the civil society day organized in Douala in December 2019, including a declaration adopted at the end of the day. This declaration brings together the recommendations of civil society. The CBFP College of CSOs called for support in the implementation of the Douala declaration. On all the actions foreseen in the roadmap, in particular the strengthening of the Dialogue with China; the EU-Africa Summits; EU-China as well as at the Biodiversity and Climate COPs, it called for a strong involvement of civil society in the process, especially in the envisaged preparatory frameworks in order to ensure effective regarding these joint contributions.
Mr. Nicaise Moulombi, Chairperson of the Network of Civil Society Organizations for the Green Economy in Central Africa (ROSCEVAC) and Second Vice-President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of Gabon
On behalf of the civil society organizations that are not members of CEFDHAC, Mr. Moulombi expressed their adherence to the CBFP Facilitation roadmap. Beyond the China-Africa dialogue, he stressed the importance of the dialogue initiated within CAFI with civil society organizations. He recalled that to date, civil society is not actively taken into account in the CAFI negotiations in the countries and regretted the lack of transparency. Furthermore, he called for extending the dialogue beyond China, but also focusing it on other important partners in the Congo Basin such as Russia, Japan, etc...
Mr. Moulombi advocated for standardising support for the forests of Central Africa and the role that COMIFAC should play in this process.
Finally, he wished to receive more information from the Facilitation on the continuation of the process that should lead to a common position for the Congo Basin, recalling that its ROSCEVAC Network has already submitted its contribution and its answers to the questionnaires.
Mr. Nicaise Moulombi, proposed that each member of the CBFP's Society College at the national level should analyse the CAFI initiative from the perspective of CSOs’ participation in order to ensure that civil society organizations and forest communities are taken into account in the initiative. He committed to do an analysis of CAFI from a CSO perspective in his country Gabon. As soon as the analyses are available in each country, a compilation will be made. The result of these consultations will be shared with the CBFP Facilitator to assist CSOs in the Congo Basin in their advocacy with CAFI. The briefing note will be produced by the leaders of the CBFP CSOs College on CAFI for transmission to the CBFP Facilitator.
Monique BISSECK YIGBEDEK, Regional Coordinator of the Network of Women for Sustainable Development (REFADD)
REFADD is seeking a commitment from the CBFP Facilitation in the implementation of the CSOs’ declaration which emerged from the December 2019 day in Douala. She reiterated the points raised in the declaration. With regard to a key point of the declaration, the CSOs of the Congo Basin asked for a current assessment of partners' support for the Congo Basin. She announced that REFADD has already responded to the CBFP Facilitation's technical questionnaire. She pleaded for a better consideration of security and community challenges in partners' projects and programs.
Marie Nkom Tamoifo, Regional Coordinator of the Youth Network for Central African Forests (REJEFAC)
Ms. Tamoifo welcomed the openness of the CBFP Facilitation to civil society and youth organizations in particular. She recalled that REJEFAC has been active in organizing CBFP meetings through a volunteer service of young leaders that it has been mobilizing to facilitate the organization of CBFP meetings for several years. She stressed that REJEFAC was available support the organization of CBFP meetings as usual. As regards the COP Climate and Biodiversity, its network has experience in mobilizing youth to participate in a close rows, through the annual organization of the COPs AT HOME. She requested from the CBFP Facilitation a support for a greater participation of youths in the process towards a common position and recalled the availability of the Network's strategic document.
Raoul Siemeni, Director Africa Environment Plus and President of the Network of Communicators for Environment and Information in Central Africa (RECEIAC)
Siemeni, advocated for a single approach, a single position for CSOs in Central Africa in the process towards a common Congo Basin position. He proposed that the German Facilitation should help facilitate a harmonization of views and positions within civil society so that it can speak with one voice. He noted the urgency of cohesion among CSOs in the Congo Basin. In addition, with regard to RECEIAC, Mr. Siemeni called for communication to remain a priority of the German CBFP Facilitation. The need to maintain the information dynamic around the Partnership and its members.
Maixent Fortunin Agnimbat Emeka, Coordinator of the African Community Rights Network (ACRN)
Agnimbat Emeka reiterated ACRN's support for the implementation of the roadmap of the German CBFP Facilitation. He called for giving a louder voice to forest communities in this process.
Ms. Cécile Ndjebet - Coordinator of the Network of African Women for Community Forest Management (REFACOF) and Coordinator of the Central African Civil Society REDD+ & CC Platform (PR2CAC)
Ms. Ndjebet recalled that we are in a decade on family farming and that we are entering a decade on landscape restoration. She pointed out that this aspect was not taken into account in the questionnaire as well as the impact of COVID 19. She requested that these new themes be taken into account before reiterating the importance for the Congo Basin society to speak with one voice, to better coordinate its actions and work in cohesion.
Ms. MAIMUNA UMARO, Biodiversity Focal Point and National Coordinator Chad of the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations of Central Africa (REPALEAC)
Ms. MAIMUNA UMARO welcomed the roadmap of the German CBFP Facilitation and stressed that REPALEAC would provide these contributions in writing in the coming days.
Some guidelines and answers provided by the CBFP Facilitation to the contributions of CBFP society organisations
Dr. Iven Schad, BMZ Central Africa Division
On the point calling for more transparency within CAFI for a greater CSO’s participation, Dr. Iven Schad recalled that CSOs’ participation is essential and important for the BMZ. He stressed that the BMZ and the CBFP Facilitator are following CAFI's development within the CAFI Board.
Minister Mbitikon, CBFP Co-Facilitator, underlined with satisfaction the importance and richness of the proposals from CSOs in the Congo Basin, noting that CSOs have innovative ideas that could enrich the sub-regional debate. Seizing this opportunity, he appealed on the basis of the request of several participants, for better cohesion and collaboration, for a sub-regional union around key objectives so that CSOs of the Congo Basin speak with one voice.
Honourable Dr. Christian Ruck, the German CBFP, thanked the participants for their contributions, ideas and constructive thoughts, which he will take into account in the framework of his mandate.
On the process towards the Congo Basin Common Position, Dr. Ruck confirmed the role and key input of civil society and stressed that he would like to promote more discussions with civil society and looks forward to written contributions from all members of the college following the Facilitation questionnaire, including on new themes. Subsequently, the CSOs College Co-Leaders and the CBFP Facilitation will collect all the completed questionnaires for a synthesis and proposal of a draft document for intensive discussions in the colleges. He took good note of the importance of taking into account the different actors, notably indigenous people, forest communities, women, youth...
With regard to the Douala Declaration adopted at the end of the CBFP civil society day, the Facilitator has taken due note and will follow up as soon as possible.
Regarding CAFI, the CBFP Facilitator recalled that Germany chairs both initiatives: CAFI and CBFP. A major focus of his interventions as Facilitator would be to bring the two initiatives closer and synchronise them, strengthen synergies and pool efforts.
Giving an update on his participation in the last CAFI Board meeting, he said that he had advocated for increased CSOs’ participation in CAFI and suggested that CAFI should use the CBFP platform, including colleges to conduct consultations. With regard to civil society participation in CAFI, this is an issue that he said he could discuss with CAFI. He stressed that all contributions are welcome. All ideas and whatever the subject should be discussed without taboos. He welcomed the fact that civil society in the Congo Basin would like to speak with one voice. Furthermore, he welcomed the fact that several participants had promised to make written contributions, which would be much appreciated.
In his closing remarks, the Honourable Dr Christian Ruck expressed his willingness to meet with civil society as soon as the borders are opened again.
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