Stakeholder awareness workshop takes place on external independent observation and the development process of the SNOIE system in the Republic of CongoContinue Reading
It is within the framework of the project “Strengthening forest monitoring and law enforcement in the Congo Basin / CV4C – FGMC”, funded by the European Union and DFID, that the NGO Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ), in partnership with the Center for International Development and Training (CIDT), organized an awareness workshop at Edmond Hôtel de Brazzaville for the benefit of some 30 stakeholders. This two-day workshop, from Thursday, 31 January to Friday, 01 February 2019, aimed to inform and educate stakeholders on Independent External Forest Monitoring (IFM) and the process of developing a standardized system known by its French acronym SNOIE – Système Normalisé d’Observation Indépendante Externe.
The workshop was an opportunity for participants from various backgrounds, including the public administration (Ministry of Forestry Economy, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Labor and Social Security), the private sector (AITBT, IFO, Thanry-Congo), parliamentarians (national assembly and senate), justice professionals (magistrates, lawyer), police, gendarmerie and civil society organizations, to discuss and exchange around the implementation of the monitoring system. SNOIE is a set of monitoring processes for the exploitation of natural resources based on an international standard (ISO 9001: 2008 updated to ISO 9001: 2015) including observation, verification, communication and lobbying. It consists of documenting and denouncing violations linked to the exploitation of natural resources, monitoring and disseminating the decisions of the competent authorities.
The two days of discussions and exchanges with the various stakeholders led to a few recommendations:
At Parliamentarian level:
- Ensure when adopting the new forest law the maintenance of integrated provisions on the consideration of independent forest observation.
At forest administration level:
- Support civil society throughout the development process of SNOIE-Congo;
- Produce a record of all cases of overlap in use in the forest sector, so that corrective measures are taken in the development of the National Planning Policy (PNAT).
At civil society level:
- The European Union proposes that a standardized system of independent observation (SNOI), rather than a standardized external independent observation system (SNOIE), be established in general only.
From all stakeholders:
- Establish a multi-stakeholder stakeholder platform to coordinate forest control work in the context of external independent observation.
Finally, the future stages of development of SNOIE-Congo were presented, including:
- Testing, improvement and validation of the SNOIE-Congo through: adaptation or development of tools and acquisition of work equipment; NGO training; pre-validation; testing and improving the system; system validation and skill upgrading.
- The implementation of SNOIE-Congo: the realization of external observation missions; training of internal auditors and support for management review; the validation of the skills of the internal auditors and the carrying out of the external audit.
Lilian Laurin BARROS,
Project Manager and Permanent Secretary of CJJ, Republic of Congo
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The ‘Standardised External Independent Monitoring System (SNOIE)’, certified ISO 9001-2015, has been recognised at the 11th Forest Governance Forum (FGF) as a structured Independent Monitoring (IM) approach, generating information required by timber buyers in order to respect the EUTR. This recognition is documented in a study on IM in the Congo Basin carried out by the Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG) Cameroon and presented to the Forum by Dr Hiol, the Consultant in charge of reporting the study. From the FGF, it can also be noted that the experiences of FODER with this standardised IM approach, as well as those of Conservation Justice (Gabonese CSO) in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking are likely to inspire synergies between IFM and IM of wildlife exploitation.
SNOIE is a set of monitoring processes for the exploitation of natural resources based on an international standard (ISO 9001: 2015). It consists of documenting and denouncing violations linked to the exploitation of natural resources, monitoring and disseminating the decisions of the relevant authorities. Since April 2015, SNOIE has officially obtained its Certificate of Conformity to the ISO 9001:2015 Standard. By obtaining this certificate, it becomes the very first approach to monitoring natural resources by civil society certified in Cameroon. This certification has been awarded by the certification body Interface-NRM Ltd. The certificate covers three years. It was obtained with the financial and technical support of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) and the University of Wolverhampton as part of ‘Citizens Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project’ (CV4C).
SNOIE has been developed in order to make External Independent Monitoring (EIM) activities more effective, to increase the credibility of denunciations emerging from them and, above all, to better guide these denunciations to the appropriate recipients (competent authorities, technical and financial partners, sector operators etc.). By aligning the development of SNOIE on the ISO 9001: 2015 standard, the coordination of this system has succeeded to this day: “a real mechanism to have reliable information on external independent monitoring in Cameroon”, said Dr. Gavin Jordan Director, Interface NRM Ltd. Moreover, at the level of the administration in charge of forests, the SNOIE is now part of the network of informants of the administration.
As suggested by the Head of the National Control Brigade in MINFOF, Rodrigue Ella, during a multi-stakeholder meeting organised during the deployment of the SNOIE in 2016, “an illegal timber operator is a thief who has to be tracked down, and to be given reliable information is crucial. Therefore, SNOIE which is part of the network of informants is a system that enables to have these denunciations.”
Download the presentation on SNOIE made at the FGF 2018.
Current situation on availability of information from independent sources on compliance with social and environmental requirements in the forest sector in Cameroon
A study to assess the availability of information from independent sources on compliance with social and environmental requirements in the forest sector in Cameroon, was recently carried out by the Association ‘Forêts et Développement Rural’ (FODER); within the framework of ‘Citizens voices for change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project’ (CV4C).
The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of the current situation of information from independent sources on compliance with legal requirements in general, as well as social and environmental requirements in the forest sector with particular emphasis on quantity and quality, the availability of information from independent sources on compliance with environmental requirements, as well as external and internal social requirements, and analyses of the constraints in monitoring social and environmental aspects with the view of proposing possible improvements.
Results of this study found that companies engaged in forest certification are quite open and are ready to make their compliance auditors available to certification audit firms. However, CSOs working in non-mandated Independent Monitoring (IM) do not always have access to these documents. Those that regularly publish their reports have little more information on the legal requirements of the sector than other CSOs. This may be as a result of the approach, the method and the working instructions that are used during an External Independent Monitoring (EIM) mission in order to guarantee the quality and credibility of denunciations before publication. The forestry workers’ unions have varied access to documents according to their relationship with the company’s managers and the guarantee to keep confidential information provided to them.