Declaration issued during the ministerial conference on the Greater Virunga

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme has been facilitating a transboundary dialogue for more than 10 years.  By signing the Goma Declaration in October 2005, the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Congo finally confirmed their commitment to transboundary collaboration. In May 2006, the same three governments agreed on a monitoring and revenue sharing programme for habituated transboundary gorillas. In 2008, the Transboundary Core Secretariat could resume its work. 

The US State Department has undertaken to revitalize this transboundary dialogue by co-organizing, together with the Transboundary Core Secretariat, a ministerial conference on the conservation of the Greater Virunga Landscape. This conference, held in Gisenyi, Rwanda, on July 14 and 15, brought together tourism and environment ministers from the three countries, as well as delegates from international conservation NGO's, local governments and diplomats from donor countries and United Nations. 

Conference participants highlighted the enormous biodiversity of the Virunga region, the potential for ecotourism and the revenue sharing programme in Uganda and Rwanda. They also discussed steps to expand eco-tourism infrastructure. Participants expressed their serious concerns that armed groups operating in the Virunga National Park on the Congolese side have been threatening people and wildlife, and have killed any economic activity in the region. The conference ended with the signature of the Rubavu Declaration (Ministerial Statement). The three ministers confessed their will to strengthen the tourism sector, fight poverty and conserve the enormous biodiversity in the Greater Virunga Region. They also expressed their concern that armed groups will further displace local communities, destroy infrastructure and prevent park rangers from entering more than 40% of the Virunga Park. 

Eco-tourism initiatives and the transboundary process as a whole received funding from the US Agency for International Development's Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) and from other members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership.  

Read more about the topic:

Statement by US Representative 
News story on 
Report by US Governments News service

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