Calling for a « Fair Deal » for the Congo Basin and its vicinity, Berlin, Germany…

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In French: Déclaration d'engagement des Etats membres de la COMIFAC pourles forêts d'Afrique centrale et appel pour un financement équitable

 

In English: Declaration of commitment by COMIFAC member states to the forests of Central Africa and call for equitable financing and Fair Share

 

Forest Day Aide-Mémoire:

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In German

 

Berlin, Germany, 07 September 2021 - Congo Basin Forests Day: Presenting the Statement, Common Position on a "Fair Deal" for the conservation of tropical forests and signing of a Memorandum.

 

Presenting the Statement on a “Fair Deal " for the conservation of tropical forests and signing of a Memorandum.

Under the high patronage of His Excellency the German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr Gerd Müller, a “Congo Basin Forest Day” was held in Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany on 07 September 2021, on the sidelines of the Tropical Forests Symposium.

 

The ceremony took place today with eight ministers from Central African countries from the following countries attending: Burundi, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad. Rwanda was represented at the meeting by the Director General of Forests.

 

During the ceremony, the "Statement of Commitment of the Member States of COMIFAC to the Central African forests and call for equitable financing" was presented and a Memorandum on the Congo Basin Forests Day signed by Germany and COMIFAC.

Minister Müller’s signature stands as a promise on Germany's part to campaign on the international political scene for the Congo Basin’s tropical forests to receive a fair share of climate and biodiversity funds. In return, the Congo Basin signatories agree to take more responsibility for forest protection. The “Fair Deal” encapsulated in the Statement was presented by the Current Chairman of COMIFAC and the Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany to a large audience connected digitally from Germany, the Congo Basin and beyond.

 

A “Fair Deal” for the Congo Basin

Through this Statement, the Central African signatories recognize the services provided by the Congo forests (CO2 storage capacity, genetic heritage, habitat and economic space) as a global public good and declare their shared commitment to preserving its natural resources, notably by:

  • Strengthening the role of Congo forests in global climate debates;
  • Increasing privatization of protected area management;
  • Creating more opportunities for civil society and indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making processes;
  • Establishing a platform of supra-regional exchange to bring transhumance under control (increase in numbers of cattle herds that are devastating the forests);
  • And implementing more reforestation measures where forests have already been wiped out.

 

In return, the African signatories expect more technical, political and financial support from the global community and call for better coordination of international funding mechanisms and policy initiatives, as well as '' adequate and equitable access to climate and biodiversity finance as well as global tropical timber markets and greater promotion of high value-added timber products.

 

A major focus of this COMIFAC Statement document flows along the lines of Minister Müller's call for a "fair deal": An international commitment to the Congo Basin, commensurate with the services it provides to the global society. There is a need to assess how effective existing protection instruments are (e.g.  REDD +).

 

The importance of the Congo Basin

The African Congo Basin is second only to the Amazon as the largest contiguous tropical forest region on the planet. With a unique array of biodiversity, its forests are home to countless animal and plant species. They also provide livelihoods for millions of people in the region and, serve as carbon reservoirs, significantly helping to stabilize the world’s climate. Their importance to the world’s climate cannot be overstated! Compared to the rainforests of South America and Southeast Asia, they remain very much intact – though they have seen a greater increase in deforestation rates in recent years than any other part of the world. The main reason for this upsurge is, among other things, the conversion of forest areas to arable land as well as rising demand for land and firewood from growing populations.

 

The Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) was founded in 2002 to address alarming forest loss and development challenges in the region. Its 121 members include not only the surrounding forest-rich states, but also donors such as Germany, France, USA, Belgium, UK and EU, international (non-governmental) organizations, research institutes and actors from the private sector and civil society. In January 2020, the BMZ took over the rotating presidency of the CBFP and appointed Dr Christian Ruck to its helm.

 

The Statement expresses the willingness of stakeholders to take more joint responsibility for conserving the species-rich tropical forests of the Congo Basin. It was prepared jointly by the members of the CBFP under the German Chair. The large regional and international circle of supporters bolsters the Statement in demanding a "fair deal" at the forthcoming United Nations climate and biodiversity conferences: Improving forest governance in the region in exchange for global recognition of vital ecosystem services provided by Congo's forests – at the political and financial levels.

 

After the BMZ event, the Ministers among the guests were received by parliamentarians during a Congo Basin Day at the German Bundestag and met German non-governmental organizations such as WWF or Nabu, the Ministries of the Environment and Development, representatives of GIZ and KfW, the African Association of German Companies, ATIBT, the sustainable forestry company Interholco or the CAFI donor alliance to exchange views on project approaches and assistance needed in protecting tropical forests.

 

Federal Minister Gerd Müller explains:

“The forests of the Congo Basin are invaluable – not only for people, but also in stabilizing the global climate. Together, we must do everything we can to ensure that the people in the region are able to meet their basic needs and enjoy economic development opportunities, without further destroying the forests. I am very grateful to Dr Christian Ruck for his tremendous commitment to the region. And I commend Mr Doret Ndongo and the Ministers of the Central African region for making the trip to Germany to discuss with German experts, NGOs and politicians, ways of getting German support in protecting tropical forests. "

 

Dr Christian Ruck - Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership adds.

"I am delighted with the healthy cooperation and strong joint commitment of the CBFP stakeholders and the fact that we were able to come to an agreement on this joint Declaration. The viewpoints of civil society, national political representatives, the private sector, experts and the global community are quite varied and contradictory because of the different interests involved. Which makes me even prouder that we are able to adopt this joint statement today. This sends out a strong message for the UN negotiations on climate and biodiversity – to ensure that the Congo Basin gets more attention!”

 

Jules Doret Ndongo - Cameroon Minister of Forestry and Wildlife and Chairman of the Central African Forest Commission COMIFAC, concludes.

"Allow me to thank the Federal Republic of Germany of the CBFP, its Federal Minister for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Dr Christian Ruck, the CBFP Facilitator for recognizing the importance of Congo forests for all of humanity as a carbon sink which is set to become the world’s largest and whose care cannot be left entirely to the States that host and guard it, on top of the challenge of meeting their citizens’ basic needs. Hence the need to underscore that the Congo Basin needs to receive substantial financial support for the services it renders to the whole world in promoting conservation, sustainable management, the fight against climate change and community development.

 

The Declaration that has been signed and presented, akin to a charter of commitments made by COMIFAC member countries,  firstly reiterates the host countries’ awareness of the challenges associated with managing this good, and demonstrates to the International community the Congo Basin States’ willingness to go to extra lengths to protect this good and especially brings to bear on the international community, that the Congo Basin’s countries’ good will alone can no longer suffice to meet the challenges of managing this good. Joining forces and resources remains the best policy to follow in supporting and regenerating this large ecosystem. That’s where the concept of a "Fair deal" came into play. We are introducing the concept to win the international community over to our approach of strengthening the Congo Basin’s role as the lung of the world ... "

 

Please download the Kinshasa Declaration "Long version of the Declaration" below:

In French: Déclaration d'engagement des Etats membres de la COMIFAC pour les forêts d'Afrique centrale et appel pour un financement équitable

In English: Declaration of commitment by COMIFAC member states to the of Central Africa and call for fair financing

 

Please see the photos of the day...

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