COMIFAC at CoP26: High-level Session on Central African countries contributions and multilateral financial mechanisms to protect Congo Basin

COMIFAC Pavilion, Glasgow, UK, 05 November 2021

The Panel during the High-Level Political Dialogue in the COMIFAC Pavilion

Chaired by H.E. Jules Doret NDONGO, Minister of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon and current President of COMIFAC, a high-level session on the commitment of Central African countries and the Multilateral Financial Mechanisms for the protection of Congo Basin was held today, 05/11/2021 in the COMIFAC Pavilion at the COP26 Conference Centre in Glasgow, UK.

 

This session, co-organised by COMIFAC, German Facilitation of Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), brought together in a high-level political dialogue, HE Jules Doret NDONGO, Minister of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon, current President of COMIFAC, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, CBFP Facilitator of the Republic of Germany, Dr. Christ DIKINSON, Senior Specialist Ecosystem Management Division, GEF, and Mr. Paul MARTINEZ, Senior Climate Specialist, GCF and Mrs. Berta PESTI, Director General of CAFI Secretariat, who intervened online. This important session was moderated by Dr. Dany POKEM, CBFP Facilitation.

 

About thirty participants in person and many others online took part in the session. The dialogue started with introductory remarks by Dr. Christian RUCK, CBFP Facilitator for Federal Republic of Germany, who presented the history of the highly participatory and inclusive process that led to the SINGLE Declaration of Central African countries at the Berlin Symposium, which called on the international community to "FAIR DEAL" for the protection of Congo Basin, given its crucial importance in helping the world to face the dual crisis of climate and biodiversity. According to him: "All stakeholders have actively participated in the process for 18 months, Governments of Central African countries, civil society organisations, parliamentarians and local elected representatives, donor countries, international organisations and institutions, technical and financial partners, research institutions, private sector, etc. "This Declaration, commitment of the COMIFAC member countries, led to the result we have today: the Glasgow Declaration, and the commitment of donors coalition to finance the protection of forests and peatlands of Congo Basin of 1.5 billion US dollars... "FAIR DEAL” is not just a donation, Central Africa countries have something very valuable to sell, not just climate service, but also biodiversity service.” ... “We are moving in the right direction, as leaders of Coalition, Great Britain and Germany, have said, but it is a beginning, because we need sustainable funding for Congo Basin, 10 times more than what is promised now and an investment plan," he continued. Finally, he called once again on Central African countries to coordinate their efforts and actions.

 

According to Dr. Christ DIKINSON, Senior Specialist Ecosystem Management Division, GEF, and Paul MARTINEZ, Senior Climate Specialist, GCF, following the Glasgow Declaration on Congo Basin Finance, they presented, each for their own organisation, the current situation of financial commitments through projects in the sub-region and the perspectives.

 

Dr. Christ DIKINSON, stated that GEF is in cycle 7 of its financing, in which Congo Basin has 64 million US dollars, as a contribution to sustainable management of forests for the benefit of 6 countries among which: Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, CAR, DRC. Within this framework, five of the seven projects submitted by these countries have been accepted and are about to start.

 

In terms of prospects, eleven major programmes are in progress in the new cycle starting in 2022, with the largest one focusing on protection of primary forests in the Amazon, Congo Basin and South-East Asian Basin. The central component of this funding is dedicated to Congo Basin. This major programme will extend assistance to protected area management, livelihoods and alternative development for indigenous and local people in protected areas periphery, REDD+, payment for ecosystem services and Nature+ policies.

 

"We have a GEF 7 and GEF 8 coordination platform within GEF, and we wanted a political cohesion and a strengthened partnership with Central African countries.

"In early 2022, we will know which amount is allocated to a country and the purpose. It is necessary for countries to have a common voice and a coherent and harmonised investment plan to be effective, through multi-country, multi-sectoral and inclusive projects.

 

Referring to the natural wonder represented by forests of Congo Basin, Dr Christ DIKINSON, highlighted the role of Congo Basin in global rainfall and water resources (30% of global rainfall comes from Congo Basin... Congo Basin is not just vast expanses of forest, but also water. To this end, we need to intervene in Congo Basin to support the fight against climate change, deforestation and forest degradation.

 

In terms of perspectives, he proposed a step-by-step approach and to develop strong leadership, with projects to prepare countries readiness, as has been the case in other basins, to develop models that allow the development of sustainable agriculture, to fight against fires... "There is an urgent need to have a strategic framework and multi-country projects, a necessary coalition and a single goal", he insisted.

 

In her speech online, Mrs. Berta PESTI, Director General of CAFI Secretariat, gave an update on CAFI status commitments in Central Africa, with an envelope of 800 million US dollars. These commitments have been materialised through the signing of agreements with partner countries. British Prime Minister Boris JOHNSON signed, here at CoP26, a financing agreement of 500 million US dollars with President Felix TSISEKEDI of Democratic Republic of Congo, and two years ago the French President, Emmanuel MACRON, signed a financing agreement with President Denis SASSOU NGUESSO of Republic of Congo. These projects concern sustainable agriculture, wood and sustainable forest management, forestry, etc. "According to CAFI, it is a matter of sensitising donors and Central African countries, so that projects are developed and meet political needs of countries and their populations", ... “Agreements are there, but they must be implemented," she said. CAFI does not yet have a financing agreement with some countries such as Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic, and we hope that by CoP27, we shall be able to sign agreements for these countries”.

 

After a question-and-answer session following these opening statements, HE Jules Doret NDONGO, Minister of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon and current President of COMIFAC, concluded the session by giving the following key points (i) The entire international community is today unanimous with the fact that Congo Basin forests are the most important in the world, first net carbon sink and last bastion of human survival; (ii) Donors have clearly expressed their willingness to mobilise financial resources for the protection of this important basin; (iii) Although financing mechanisms exist, they are still difficult for our countries in Central Africa; (iv) It is therefore a matter of searching together, with technical and financial partners, mechanisms that best respond to realities of our countries; (v) COMIFAC has modern and diversified means of communication that can be used to communicate widely on different mechanisms that exist, which are very often ignored or poorly exposed.

 

Jérôme Guefack

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