CIDT facilitated a four day project planning meeting for the coordination of the EU-funded project ‘Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C)‘. The meeting took place from 26 February – 1 March 2018 in Bangui, Central African Republic, hosted by ‘Centre pour l’Information Environmentalle et le Developpement Durable’ (CIEDD).
The meeting was split into sessions programmed to address instrumental aspects of the project and to allow for partners to be reflective, and amongst critical friends deliberate methodology and strategies.
This participatory, reflective and instructive design of the workshops enabled project partners to incorporate lessons learned into their 2018 project action plans.
On the first day the floor was given to each of the partners to present their 2017 project accomplishments, covering targets and activities achieved, challenges, limitations, and lessons learned.
The aim of the following two days was to review current methodologies, strategies and tools adopted by partners regarding organisational development and Independent Forest Monitoring.
The final day culminated in the presentations of action plans and budgets newly informed by the extensive discussions and lessons learned from the previous three days.
The nature of this deliberative meeting is a prime example of knowledge sharing and experience exchange that the CV4C project promotes. Project partners are sector-leading organisations in their respective countries; they champion project working values to instigate organisational adoption from peer organisations, making for a more efficient and effective network of non-state actors contributing to an overarching sector goal.
The meeting brought together project coordinators and technical members from each project partner in the five project countries: FLAG, FODER, CED (Cameroon); OGF (DRC); Brainforest (Gabon); CAGDF (RoC); and WRI (USA). Find out more about the CV4C partners.
This annual meeting marks the beginning of year 2 of the four year project that aims to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors (NSA), such as civil society (CS), Indigenous Peoples (IP) and community organisations, to improving forest governance, sustainable forest management and the contribution of forests to development in five Congo Basin countries.
Photos from the workshops
From 19- 22 February 2018 in Libreville, sixteen civil society representatives, including four from the forest administration and Technical Coordinating Committee (CTC), undertook training on project design and writing funding proposals. These stakeholders, who directly or indirectly work on issues of forest governance, came together for a four-day workshop organised by Brainforest as part of the CV4C project in Gabon.
The training was very focused and was based on a set of presentations, group work, direct interactions between participants and a case study, enabling participants to make better use of some basic tools and methodologies for project development as well as writing funding proposals. These tools included the Results-Based Management grid, Problem and Objective trees, stakeholder and risk analysis, as well as logical frameworks and more.
One of the trainers, Dr. Aurelian Mbzibain, noted, “If members of the platform are trained in project development, this will allow the platform to mobilise the necessary resources to enable its members carry out actions to support forest governance in Gabon. At times, NGOs do not have access to funding and therefore develop activities that aren’t executed. This training provides the tools and skills needed for more effective project development and increased success in securing project funding “.
Participants were mainly from the ‘Gabon Ma Terre Mon Droit (GMTMD)’ platform, the Administration in charge of Forests and the Technical Coordinating Committee (CTC). They have gained knowledge of the subtleties of proposal writing that can attract the attention of donors.
The training was found to be very practical, as suggested by most of the participants. Below are views from some participants:
“I was very satisfied with the organisation, the pedagogical methods and the competence of the trainers. All these elements combined, allowed us to acquire knowledge and develop skills and abilities that can now be used to set up projects for our various organisations. Four days may be insufficient for such training. It may be advisable to increase the number of days in future training programmes.” Charles Moubeyi, from the NGO MUYISSI ENVIRONMENT.
“This was an opportunity for me, as I have not yet had the chance to participate in or develop a project. I discovered the different aspects that constitute the outline of writing a project. What I now need in the long run is to practice and master the process of developing a project.” Sylvana Laura Ntsame Nguema, from Agence Nationale d’Exécution des activités Filière Bois
This capacity building workshop complements others that have been delivered as part of the CV4C project, including such as – Organisational Development, Independent Forest Monitoring, Gender mainstreaming in Forest Governance, Financial Management and more. These have all benefited project partner Brainforest and other non-state actors in Gabon involved in the process of improving forest governance.
The five member organisations of the Standardised External Independent Monitoring System (SNOIE) have undertaken training on the techniques of investigation and monitoring of timber supply chains, from 6–9 February 2018. The training was organised within the framework of the ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project (CV4C)‘ project.
FODER, Papel, ASTEVI, SUHE and Cedla took part, along with three other organisations (CED, FLAG, TI-C), in a workshop which allowed them to improve their knowledge on disclosure of illegal activities observed in forest areas of the Eastern, Littoral, and South regions of Cameroon.
Laurence Wete Soh, CV4C Project Manager at Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER) said, “This training was organised with the aim of empowering participants to go beyond the forest in order to extend the area of independent observation and we hope to be more effective in reaching targets beyond a national level. Our goal is to build a consortium of organisations that positively influence forest governance and law enforcement.”
Over four days of training, civil society organisations (CSOs) were able to:
- refine their knowledge on the various stages of timber management chain from the allocation of titles, logging, up to export or port of destination;
- understand timber supply chain investigation techniques as well as the challenges and tips for overcoming obstacles;
- master the collection of relevant information on the different stages taken by wood from forest to final point of sale, through processing and transportation, as well as to understand the documentation and communication of results from these investigations.
The organisation of this training workshop comes at a time when a number of limitations have been observed in the approach used by civil society organisations in external independent observation (EIO) activities. So far EIO activities have been carried out in the forest, but it is often difficult to establish the link between activities observed in the forest and the destination of the wood.
The challenges faced by civil society organisations involved in EIO are in the monitoring of the export supply chain, that is, from forest transportation to marketing. Due to documentation fraud and corruption, it is essential for CSOs involved in forest governance in Cameroon to adapt to the prevailing situation on the ground.
The training was attended by an Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a police commissioner and a head of forest control station. Members of the SNOIE coordination managed to put forward strategies for research and access to information, data processing, as well as to be up to date with reliable techniques of field and online investigations.
Training on data management to lead to special issue of scientific papers on the governance of forest resources
In order to enable the staff of Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER), to produce quality research articles related to the governance of natural resources, a training workshop was organised from 30 January – 2 February 2018. This workshop was organised with financial support from the ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project (CV4C)‘.
The overall aim of this workshop was to equip FODER staff to deal with issues relating to data management (collection, processing, analysis and retention) in order to ensure effective downstream implementation of FODER’s new publishing policy.
During the four days training, ten members of staff from the organisation were able to learn and master the fundamentals on:
- elaboration of data collection tools in development projects;
- data collection approaches including issues of research ethics;
- data processing and analysis tools;
- elements on the conservation of field data and the retrieval of data after a field mission or project.
Roberteau TCHOFFO, GIS expert and beneficiary of the training commented, “the workshop allowed me to improve my knowledge of writing techniques for scientific articles. These skills will be used to help draft articles submitted during training recruitment.”
In order to ensure achievement of the workshop aims and the realisation of publications, individual follow ups will be provided to participants by the training consultant. A special issue of articles produced by trained staff is expected to be published in the second half of 2018.
This training is organised at a time when FODER is engaged in a process of improving its performance as a national civil society organisation. This training aims to improve the quality of data management and information generated by its actions and thus publications produced by the organisation. Capacity building of technical staff is therefore a necessity.
Laurence Wete Soh, CV4C Project Manager at FODER said, “We are continuing work on the publishing policy, and in order for it to be operationalised, we have invited a consultant to help develop a module for capacity building of staff on the development of tools, collection and data processing, as part of interventions related to good governance and sustainable management of natural resources, including respect and rights”.
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the forest and wildlife sector has considerably deteriorated in 2017. According to the CPI assessment study presented during a press conference, it has reached 7.25/10 in 2017, i.e. almost the initial assessment level carried out by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) in 2017 which had placed it at 7.25/10.
This CPI assessment, for the fourth time, was conducted by the association Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER) in the framework of the project Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C).
CPI is one of the tools used to appreciate the intensity of a phenomenon in a given sector. In 2010, the National Anti-corruption Strategy wrote about this index for the first time in the forest sector. Also, the assessment of this CPI is a contribution of FODER to the monitoring of the initiatives of promotion of good governance and sustainable management of forests in which the Cameroonian government is committed to.
The Assessment of the Corruption Perception Index (ACPI) was carried out through interviews conducted in ten regions of Cameroon with 405 stakeholders of the sector, on one hand, from the forest and wildlife administration, justice, police forces, private sector, civil society, communities, local representatives, decentralized territorial units, other actors; on the other hand, analysis of data and information found in documents and various publications on the theme of transparency in the forest sector.
According to the results of this 2017 assessment, 82% of actors of the forest and wildlife sector are involved in corruption and more than 52% of these actors pay at least 10.000 CFA francs per week in acts of corruption (Talla et al.2017). Thus, from simulations, and if we take into consideration the people interviewed in the framework of this assessment, we notice that the phenomenon of corruption in this sector causes the State to lose more than 797 million per year.
The victims of this phenomenon are mostly found in families of actors of forests and wildlife sector. However, the most exposed are the local and indigenous communities (31.1%) and actors form the private sector (20.75%). While the principal authors of this corruption practices are the holders of a share of state authority.
With this vertiginous increase of CPI in the forest and wildlife sector in 2017, it is clear that anti-corruption initiatives carried out are both inadequate and ineffective. The same is seen in initiatives implemented by the civil society that has not succeeded in sustainably reducing the impact of this phenomenon according to respondents in the framework of the 2017 ACPI. This situation is due, among other things, to the low level of transparency in the forest and wildlife sector. Indeed, the 2017 ACPI results show that majority of actors involved in the forests and wildlife sector are not aware of information and official documents required in their activities, and also on the procedures for obtaining them. And among the other causes of the inefficiency of these initiatives are impunity, the passivity of the government and withdrawal of technical and financial partners. Without being exhaustive, they alternately suggested.
To all stakeholders:
- Strengthening cohesions between existing anti-corruption initiatives in the forest and wildlife sector
- Advocating for the reduction of interventions in the sector: The forest and wildlife sector is a junction of several and sometimes contradictory interests.
To the Government, namely MINFOF, CONAC and other interested administrations:
- Diagnosing anti-corruption initiatives carried out between 2010 and 2017 in the forest and wildlife sector, then proposing a related action plan.
- Publishing on a regular and timely basis all the information referred to in Annex VII of the VPA FLEGT, as well as specifying the costs for obtaining the operational documentation.
- Implementing as part of the fight against corruption, on a regular and holistic basis, such mechanisms established to prevent, educate and urge to fight against corruption and mostly take exemplary and deterrent sanctions against the authors of corruption.
To the civil society:
- Improving approaches to sensitize the stakeholders who are most corruption-prone:
- Reactivating mechanisms which protect those who denounce and which ensure legal and judicial assistance to the victims of corruption:
- Carrying out a study on the costs of corruption in the forest and wildlife sector: Such a study would enable to update existing ones based on appropriate and relevant methodology.
To the technical and financial partners:
- Integrating and recording fight against corruption as a priority objective of international environmental and climate policies, and mobilizing subsequent resources to achieve this objective
Civil society capacity building workshop on monitoring non-forestry investments in the forest sector in Gabon
As part of the implementation of the Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project (CV4C), Brainforest organised a capacity building workshop for the “Gabon Ma Terre Mon Droit” platform on the monitoring of non-forestry investments in the forest sector. This workshop took place from 21 – 23 December 2017 in partnership with WWF.
For almost a decade there have been large non-forestry investments made in the forestry sector in Gabon, including major infrastructure projects and agro-industries with the intention of increasing national wealth through job creation. Beyond the positive impacts, major investments give rise to several environmental and social challenges. In the light of this, it is necessary for civil society organisations and local communities to be equipped to monitor, in the same way as it would for forestry activities in the context of independent monitoring.
The objective of the workshop was to provide CSOs with the necessary skills and tools for efficient monitoring of non-forest investments in the forest sector. At the end of the 3 days, participants:
- acquired knowledge of the current state of non-forestry investments in the forest sector in Gabon;
- learned about the main issues and challenges of non-forestry investments in forestry;
- acquired skills and tools for independent monitoring of non-forestry investments in the forest sector;
- acquired skills and tools to write reports on monitoring and to follow-up complaints.
The workshop has been very useful for CV4C project partner Brainforest, contributing to achievement of results in their various projects in the forest sector, by developing approaches for monitoring forestry activities in the context of large-scale investment, such as mining, agro-business and infrastructure.
A summary report has been published giving an overview of the points raised and discussed at the regional conference on law enforcement and illegal logging in the Congo Basin. The event was held from 14-16 November 2017 at the Interpol Regional Office for Central Africa, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The aim of the conference was to initiate the dialogue between law enforcement authorities and civil society and provide an open space for discussion and exploration to address the shortfalls in the FLEGT and REDD+ processes for the different actors and going forwards, how the state and non-state actors can build mutual collaboration and trust to achieve rigorous and effective systems.
The report gives a sort overview of each session along with feedback form participants on how the aims of the conference were met. It concludes that the conference has set the ball rolling to further explore these issues that are central to effective and successful FLEGT implementation.
Within the framework of the Citizen Voices for Change project (CV4C), a sub-regional workshop on the Open Timber Portal (OTP) was organised in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, from 7-10 November 2017. The aim of this meeting was to train Independent Observers (IO) as well as members of the CV4C consortium in the use of the OTP and other tools, in order to make better use of the findings of their missions, by ensuring that they are made applicable to forest governance mechanisms, such as the EU (EUTR) timber regulations.
Understanding the importance of OTP
The OTP is an independently designed online data management system developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in consultation with civil society organisations, governments, private sector and industry federations, with the help of key partners such as FLAG, REM, OGF, CAGDF, CODELT, CIDT, as well as support from donors including USAID, CARPE, UKaid and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. This tool, which is a more advanced version of the FTI, promote trade in legal timber products by compiling information from forest administrations, the private sector/concessionaries, communities and IOs on legal compliance within the forest sector. In other words, the OTP plans to promote legal timber through better access to information.
At the end of this training workshop, IOs from different CSOs were able to understand the OTP and its importance for their work. Therefore, awareness of the need to plan observation work in a strategic way by defining the criteria for prioritizing work, and to integrate how the OTP, Forest Atlas and Forest Watcher can help plan and prepare for missions is of importance. This all enhances the work undertaken in the field using the application specially developed for users to record observations.
From presentations to discussions
The four-day workshop held in Brazzaville also made it possible to give feedback on the functionality of the Beta version of the OTP. This resulted in the need to design and integrate a table of legal references as well as to adjust the reported deficiencies by the end of 2017 for actual use.
At the outset of the CV4C project the Parliament in Central African Republic (CAR) was identified as a key actor and significant target for capacity building. Members of Parliament in Central African Republic (CAR) are more than ever determined to contribute to the improvement of forest governance.
Six MPs from the Production, Natural Resources and Environment Commission took part in workshops on training of trainers and gender mainstreaming in forest governance processes in CAR. At the end of each session, the MPs proposed an action plan for the next step.
Summary of the action plan
Training of Trainers
- Feedback on the workshop to be delivered to the Production, Environment and Natural Resources Commission;
- Feedback to be delivered to other National Assembly Committees;
- Training of parliamentarians in forest governance.
Training on gender mainstreaming
- Feedback on the training to MPs of other Committees;
- Training of parliamentarians on gender mainstreaming in forest governance processes;
- Collection and analyses of national legislation concerning forest governance in relation to the gender;
- Proposal for the integration of gender into forest governance legislation.
A total of fifty MPs took part in this feedback workshop which was chaired by Hon. Jean Michel MANDABA, Chairman of the Production, Natural Resources and Environment Commission, representative of the President of the National Assembly. The MPs have requested and obtained technical and financial support from the project in order to organise a feedback workshop to their fellow MPs who are members of other Committees.
In his opening speech, Hon. Jean Michel MANDABA expressed his satisfaction for the presence of the elected representatives, which proves the interest and importance of the country’s natural resources and the work of environmental NGOs. He then reminded the MPs and members of the Central African civil society organisations that despite efforts made by the government during the transition, much remains to be done. On behalf of the President of the National Assembly, he indicated his full availability to support environmental NGOs in their activities. He also reminded his colleagues that during the inception phase of the project, consultations were made with them in order to know their needs in relation to capacity building. He urged his colleagues by saying “if we have left our jobs to be here, it is because we understand the importance of responsibility of all parties towards forest governance in the Central African Republic”.
Following the two speeches, an opportunity was given to various communicators within CIEDD to: give a clear knowledge of CIEDD, present the added value it has brought in its field of expertise, as well as demonstrate the basis and importance of the collaboration between CIEDD and the MPs. Finally CIEDD presented the background of CV4C project and the current state of independent forest observation in the 5 target countries, as well as focusing on the project objectives and expected results.
During their feedback, the MPs and participants in the training presented: the role of parliamentarians in improving the governance of forest resources. This presentation revolved around findings that justify good forest governance, the notion of good governance according to the MPs, and also on how and at what level the parliament can intervene to improve the governance of forest resources.
The presenter concluded by referring to Article 60 of the Constitution (Art.60: The National Assembly decides on proposed draft laws) which according to him is a starting point that strengthens the role of MPs.
Gender mainstreaming in governance processes was proposed by Hon. KOIROKPI Antoine. This covered the objectives of the training workshop, the content of the training, barriers to women’s participation and gender analysis tools for its integration into FLEGT-VPA, REDD+ and other forest governance processes.
He also spoke about the development of gender sensitive indicators to assess and monitor changes, as well as the development of an action plan and why gender in forest governance is a necessity.
The different presentations and feedbacks were followed by discussions and suggestions, at the end of which questions were addressed to the presenters who then responded to the questions.
Key discussion points
- The promotion of gender mainstreaming, on which CIEDD has already taken its first steps by setting up a focal point, whose representative is Norma GUITINZIA YENGBO. Individuals who have taken part in training and feedback can be involved in promoting gender mainstreaming, or could request for support from the project.
- The conversion rate laid down by law, on which the Committee chairperson pointed out that thanks to the feedback from MPs who questioned the outgoing Minister on the conversion rate, the Minister then amended the decree resulting to an increase in export duties on logs which prevented companies from processing timber in CAR.
- Capacity building to take place for all MPs on forest governance;
- The revision of the last Forest Code of 2008 to fit current realities (FLEGT-VPA process, REDD+ and community forestry).
The chairperson of the meeting, in his capacity as representative of his Excellency President of the National Assembly, reassures all participants that the National Assembly already has a partnership with CIEDD and intends to continue this partnership by supporting it in advocacy of all kinds. He ended by congratulating the project team for all the work done.
Photo of the Chairperson, Hon. Jean Michel MANDABA, Chairman of the Production, Natural Resources and Environment Commission, personal representative of the President of the National Assembly.
Interview of Hon. DIMBELE by the press at the end of the proceedings.
Can Independent Forest Monitoring be a tool for dialogue between civil society and the private sector?
During the 17th CBFP Meeting held at Sawa Hotel in Douala from 24 – 27 October 2017, FLAG convened a brainstorming session to improve the private sector involvement in IM implementation. This session was managed by FLAG as part of the CV4C project.
Independent Monitoring (IM) is a process through which third parties monitor the respect and enforcement of forest laws at national levels. Initiated in Cameroon in the year 2000, IM implementation has expanded to the sub-regional level, and three countries currently have an IM mandated by the Administration in charge of forests (Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo). In other countries, many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operate without a mandate.
Whether mandated or not, the importance of IM is well established, as it contributes to the fight against illegal logging as well as improving the overall environment of forest governance. This brainstorming session, which brought together several actors from the civil society and private sector, was an opportunity to share experiences on the relations between the IM teams and actors in the forestry sector. Some of the grievances that the profession harbors towards IM were also identified before suggesting ways to facilitate private sector involvement in IM implementation.
The 75 participants in this side event attended three presentations by resource persons, including Caroline Duhesme from ATIBT, Samuel Ebia Ndongo from BUREDIP and Serge Moukouri from FLAG. This was a frank and open exchange between the various stakeholders involved in independent monitoring, as a means to identify elements that should be taken into account in order to facilitate dialogue between the private sector and civil society, through Independent Monitoring (IM). The presentations focused on the contribution of IM for the different actors of forest management, the impact of implementing IM in forest management monitoring activities by the administration, and finally the point of view of the private sector on IM implementation.
The first presentation by Serge Moukouri highlighted the interest of different stakeholders in IM implementation, beginning from the mechanism, its expansion and diversification in the sub-region, to the point where almost all of the Congo Basin countries are now concerned by different approaches to implementation. In addition, it was strongly emphasized that IM is not only limited to detecting illegalities, but also to identify weaknesses in the legal framework that are likely to generate problems in governance.
The second presentation, delivered by Mr. Ebia Ndongo, highlighted the impact that IM has had on forest law enforcement in Cameroon and other countries of the sub-region. He indicated that this impact is at each of the three levels of activity: support for forest law enforcement, capacity building of the administration and dissemination of information. According to the presenter, IM has helped to improve the technical quality of the results of control carried out by the administration through its impact on the performance of control missions, the implementation and interpretation of the legislation and the use of modern monitoring tools by appointed agents. However, the latter has a set of criticisms mainly regarding the management of information, the legitimacy of its intervention in the litigation management process as well as many others.
The final presentation by Ms. Caroline Duhesme was on the point of view of the private sector. She highlighted the main grievances that the private sector has towards IM, whilst noting the important contribution of this mechanism to the availability of information from independent sources for the improvement of fairness vis-à-vis actors of this sector. These grievances range from challenging the methodological approach and the legitimacy of IM actors, to the disqualification of results produced by IMs because of real or supposed relationships with other NGOs working in the sector.
After two hours of exchange and debate, it emerged that IM could be a real tool for dialogue between the private sector and civil society by improving the implementation of this tool (coherence and harmonization of approaches, clear impact assessment methodology, securing long-term funding), but also through continued capacity building of the implementing organisations.
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