Kinshasa High Level Forum on Forests and Climate Change for Sustainable Development: DRC, CAR and the international community mobilised
Participants discussed climatic change and the role of forests, climate negotiations and financial architecture on the one hand and listened to the declarations of nine partners on climate change negotiations and the political dialogue facilitated by UNDP between DRC ministers on the other.
A High Level Forum on Forests and Climate Change for Sustainable Development held in Kinshasa (DRC) on 10 October 2011. Organised by the DRC Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism, UNDP, UNEP, the EU and the World Bank, the forum was attended by more than 400 experts. Five of the specific objectives of the forum were to: (5) mobilise technical and financial partners in their support the DRC and other COMIFAC countries. Show the DRC’s commitment to sustainable management and its leadership as concerns REDD+; (2) discuss on the stakes of COP17 and confirm the DRC as leader; (3) discuss on innovatory initiatives in fighting climate change (4) promote dialogue among high level decision makers in the DRC and (5) mobilise technical and financial partners in their support to the DRC and other COMIFAC countries.
Speaking at the opening ceremony where five speeches were made, Minister Jose Endundo Bononge Endundo, the forum host, called for a minute of silence in honour of Nobel Peace Price laureate Wangari Mathai. He then proceeded to recall the current context of food, financial, economic and environmental crises and to highlight the challenges in fighting climate change, conserving biodiversity and fighting poverty. He also dwelled at length on the objectives of the forum that the DRC was organizing with the vision of "a green, developed DRC that promotes the green economy, is responsible and serves as a leader for the future” Before ending his welcome address, he highlighted the added value brought by dialogue between the different ministers of COMIFAC countries and the necessity to draw a road map. The UNDP representative and coordinator of the UN System in the DRC in his speech highlighted the importance of forests in the DRC which he said was both national and international. According to him, although the deforestation rate in the DRC is only 0.2% per annum, thus by far lower than the world average, in absolute value forest losses in this country are not negligible given that it stands at more than 240,000 hectares per year. He encouraged the DRC to continue the application of its 2nd generation growth strategy which takes environmental issues into account and went ahead to announce that UNDP hopes to institute a communication network similar to Twitter to improve on information exchange on forest and climate change issues in the DRC.
Mr. Hans Brattskar, Norway’s Climate Ambassador, in his speech, revealed that REDD+ is the domain that made the highest progress in the fight against climate change and hailed the efforts of the other partners (Carbon Fund, UNREDD, ADB, etc.). While stressing that REDD+ should bring added value to improve sustainable management, Hans Brattskar encouraged the other countries to support carbon storage strategies and congratulated the DRC for is commitment to FLEGT while observing the country’s leadership on REDD+ in the sub region. Hans Brattskar noted that his country supports CBFF initiatives which play a key role in the support of REDD+ projects in the RDC. He concluded by reminding participants that a lot still needs to be done in the sub-region that it was necessary to reinforce coordination of all initiatives with neutral and committed partners. In his speech, Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Director General and Assistant Secretary General of the UN wondered how the world will be able to feed more than Nine billion inhabitants by 2050. He called for more intelligent methods to be found through the green economy, job creation and the promotion of the ecological footprint. “We need an insurance premium on climate change within and without the sub-region, and at global scale in order to assure the livelihood of future generations”, he asserted. He welcomed the existence of various partnerships, including the CBFP, promoting the green economy and stressed that there exist catalysts driving climate changes which to UNEP and UNREDD, were responses. Mr. Steiner recalled that the DRC is the first country to receive FIP funds up to the tune of 60 million dollars. To him, this is evidence of the importance the international community attaches to the country. The DRC has thus shown its commitment to sustainable management and should serve as an inspiration to all Africa besides serving as a centre for learning and excellence for other African countries. The DRC, to him, is thus well placed to defend the green economy and its model should integrate other aspects of sustainable management like certification, PFNL, ecotourism, protected areas, etc.
The Head of State’s opening speech was presented by the Vice Prime Minister in charge of Posts and New Communication Technologies, Louis Alphonse Koyagialo Ngbase, who was representing the DRC Head of State. He declared that “We are working for a green economy and this path is that chosen by the RDC» before recalling that Congo’s forests need to be preserved and valorized for the good of Africa and mankind. He further declared that “Our role in climate negotiations must be recognized in the framework of COP17 in Durban, we will participate in the global effort.” His country's population is faced with poverty and conflict in addition to trauma due to the long war. Hence, the country has an immense need for infrastructures. Talking about the mineral and energy resources that should serve as a lever for development, the Vice Prime Minister asserted his country's need for huge means for its development. “The support promised by those who owe us an ecological debt is not forthcoming” he said and declared that the DRC is side by side with other countries of the sub-region and that it was high time for action given that it is necessary for efforts to be reciprocal. He asserted that “we need an effective, simple and performing REDD+” and thanked partners like UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank, the EU, GIZ and other partners and announced that the DRC is now united and peaceful.
For two days following this opening ceremony, participants listened to several presentations on four main topics:
(A) Climate change and the role of forests: The problem of deforestation by Alain Karsenty of CIRAD Forest (2) Alternatives and solutions to fight deforestation in Brazil Gabriel Ribenboim of Brazil (3) National Forest Surveillance System of DRC by Vincent Kasulu, Climate and REDD contact person (4) Cross examination of the Congolese and international Civil Society on the REDD+ process by Adrien Sinafasi, REPALEF DRC and Anne Mertinussen, Rainforest Foundation, Norway.
(B) Climate Negotiation and Financial Architecture Session: State of negotiations: Seth Osafo, CCNUCC lawyer (2) An African Perspective on Climate Negotiations by Tosi Mpula Mpanu, President of the African CCNUC Group (3) International Climate Financial Architecture and Green Funds for Climate Veerle Vanderweed, UNDP Environment and Energy Director (4) Obstacles to early financing by Graham Wynee, Rainforest Project Adviser (5) the Initiative of Green Economy Funds in Central Africa Michel Adande, BDEAC President (6) Private financing in the fight against climate change by Sylvain Goupille, Director, Athelia Climate Fund.
(C) Nine Partners’ declarations on climate change negotiations: The EU, FAO, UNREDD, MTTF, the UK, France, Canada, IUCN, and the World Bank
(D) Political dialogue facilitated by PNUD representative among DRC Ministers: (1) The Minister of Planning: Integrating environmental stakes in the development strategy, (2) Minister of Energy (3) Minister of Agriculture (4) Minister of Higher Education and Research (5) Minister of Environment.
After these highly engaged sessions, a rendezvous was taken to meet at the informal consultation of Berlin, Germany. This will enable continuation of dialogue towards a joint declaration relating to Central Africa's preparation for Durban, South Africa (CDP 17 of the CNNUCC).
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