The Congo Basin at the heart of the World Conservation Congress - a resounding success - High-level session of Congo Basin leaders
Honolulu (ALOHA) - 2 September 2016: a high-level meeting of Congo Basin leaders was held in room 312 of the Hawaii Convention Center. The gathering was moderated by the Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) represented by Mr. Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director for Natural Capital at the European Commission.
Jointly organized by the COMIFAC Executive Secretariat and IUCN, the session was themed: “Progress and challenges in the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa", and aimed to showcase to the international conservation community the priorities, challenges and opportunities for conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in Central Africa, in an effort to rally new financing for conservation in the Congo Basin.
50 participants of the World Conservation Congress attended, representing political leaders in charge of forestry and the environment of the Congo Basin, bilateral and multilateral agencies and other key conservation stakeholders. All the participants interacted directly with one another and discussed the main decisions surrounding future avenues for natural resources development and sustainable management in the sub-region. The two-segment meeting consisted of two panels and a question and answer session.
The two panels
The first introductory panel featured two preliminary statements by Mr Maginis Stewart, IUCN Global Director, representing the IUCN Director General and Mr Martin Tadoum, Deputy Executive Secretary of COMIFAC representing His Excellency H.E. Emmanuel NIYONKURU,Burundi’s Minister of Water, Environment and Territorial Management and Urbanism and Acting President of COMIFAC.
The second panel, made up of representatives of conservation groups active in Central Africa fielded 5 presenters namely, in order of presentation: (1) - Pasteur Doctor Cosma Wilungula - Deputy Director General of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (2)Marc Languy, Director of WWF Central Africa (3) Omer Ntougou, Executive Secretary of RAPAC (4) Pr Roger Ngoufo, Director of CEW and President of the CSOs of IUCN PACO(5) Christophe Ducastel, AFD Portfolio Director for forests and biodiversity.
Following presentations and lively discussions, the session produced the following conclusions and strong messages:
- The Congo Basin forest ecosystems hold huge potential. They remain the least pressured tropical forest area showing a substantial difference compared with other forest basins around the world.
- The Congo Basin has a more or less homogeneous regulatory system.
- The situation of the tropical timber market is alarming. However, a downturn could lead to a change in the behavior of forest sector actors.
- There is a need to better leverage conservation as a springboard and tool for sub-regional integration”. The Environment/conservation sector is working to foster subregional integration in Central Africa". The lack of wildlife mobility is an excellent example of the need for integration.
- NGOs in the Congo Basin are now more specialized and are looking to strengthen their confidence with States and partners. There has been a call for a central financing body for NGOs
- It is time to face the fact that part of the Congo Basin forests will be "lost" to development needs in the shift towards an integrated cross-sector approach to territorial management that factors in development and conservation needs by building bridges and linkages between protected areas, spaces designed for production, infrastructure, mining activity…There is an urgent need to work towards reconciling the conservation and development visions so as to optimize land use. The vision of protecting of Congo Basin "against" development should be abandoned in favor of protection that creates opportunities for development. There are continuing pressures that need to and should be harnessed into opportunities. Conservation and development are closely linked rather than conflicting concepts.
- It is needful to focus on community development through increased inclusion of all stakeholders in management (co-management) and implementation of sustainable and autonomous financing mechanisms so that indigenous and local communities do not eventually turn into enemies of conservation.
- Transparency must be the watchword in the conservation and forest management industry in coming years in order to bolster and foster trust among stakeholders. There is a need to build a permanent platform for inclusive dialogue between the States, the private sector and other actors.
- Large scale dissemination of forest management projects would help ensure the sustainability of the Congo Basin’s forest areas.
For more information, please visit the CBFP website:
Other publications on the session:
Central African leaders’ dialogue at the IUCN World Conservation Congress: Progress and challenges in biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa.
Please download the Document here below:
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