CIDT’s Dr Aurelian Mbzibain and Daniela Baur attended the 18th Meeting of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Parties on 27-28 November 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.
As a core leader of Forest governance in the Congo Basin region, Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, on behalf of CIDT, with World Resources Institute summarised key themes and initiatives that have taken place over the last year, and outlined priorities for the future.
Discussions and actions throughout the past year are organised into three priority areas recommended by participants at the previous meeting of the Parties in Douala:
- Integrated land management
- Timber markets and legality
- Participatory forestry.
Discussion on these priority themes continued throughout the year in a series of meetings including the Forest Legality Week in Washington DC, and the Forest Governance Forum in Brazzaville in October, among others. Key recommendations included calls:
- To implement the Brazzaville road map on participatory forestry;
- For cross sectoral coordination in land use planning and the use of earth observation tools for decision making
- For improving transparency and voice and strengthening forest legality and law enforcement
- For Congo Basin governments and development partners to integrate timber legality in public procurement contracts and as a way of gradual regulation of domestic timber markets.
View the communiqué (in French) presented to the CBFP Parties.
CBFP organising parties reported that ‘the Brussels meeting comes at a time when the Congo Basin forests are facing increasingly complex and serious challenges: The region is also making a major “shift” in its economic model which is currently geared towards diversification driven by investments in territorial development related sectors such as mining, the food and agricultural industry, infrastructure and other large scale projects, bolstered by a strong drive for medium term emergence which was virtually absent at the time of the launch of the CBFP. There is an urgent need to establish better linkages between sustainable forest management strategies, conservation approaches and the region’s economic development objectives which in turn requires better opportunities for dialogue and commitment around relevant issues, including cross-cutting issues and follow-up of shared viewpoints.’
The meeting convenes Heads of States, ministers and senior multilateral officials from around the world. It also attracts participants from international organisations, multilateral partners, civil society organisations and indigenous peoples, youth, women, media, academia, scientific community, private sector actors.
With participants close to 400, discussions were held on a variety of topics relating to conservation of biodiversity, wildlife, climate change adaption, sustainable management of the Congo Basin forests as well as local development of the communities residing in the Congo Basin.
The Regional Forum on Forest Governance (FGF) was held from 30-31 October 2018 in Ledger Hotel in Brazzaville, under the patronage of the Prime Minister, Head of Government of the Republic of Congo. This event is the first of its kind for the CV4C project, but the 11th in a series of similar international conferences organised within the framework of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT)’s previous projects: Strengthening African Forest Governance (SAFG) and EU-Championing Forest Peoples’ Rights (CFPR) project.
The Forum received financial support from the CV4C project, co-funded by the European Union and the UK Department for International Development.
The Forum was attended by over 250 participants from civil society organisations, international organisations, donors, representatives from research institutions and private sector organisations were present. Participants hailed from the Congo Basin countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Republic of Congo) as well as Belgium, Chad, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Poland, Switzerland, UK and USA.
Her Excellency Mrs. Rosalie Matondo, Minister of Forest Economy of the Republic of Congo was present during the opening and closing ceremony.
The Forum took form in 12 panel sessions covering the topics and themes:
- An Overview of the State of Forest Governance in the Region and beyond – COMIFAC
- VPA and TLAS Implementation
- Promoting Transparency and Public Procurement Policies
- Panel on Regional Legal Frameworks and Reform Processes
- Private Sector Engagement & Land-use
- Involving indigenous peoples and local communities in forest governance
- Forest Certification and forest governance links
- Fire Management Planning, Sustainable Forest Management, Climate Change Response
- The scope for building synergies between IFM and IWT
- The Accountability Framework initiative (AFi)
- Climate Change, Finance and REDD+
- Benefit Sharing, Gender and Funding
Over the two day forum, 49 presentations were made by 39 stakeholders*, many of which operate across the Congo Basin region and their respective countries (Cameroon, Central African republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo), but also stakeholders operating beyond the region, notably from Ivory Coast, Indonesia, UK and USA.
* ACFAP, ATIBT, Brainforest, CCJ, CDHD, CEB/Precious Woods, CED, CIB/OLAM, CIDT, CIFOR, CLFT, Client Earth, CNIAF, Comifac, Communication Officer Platform for Sustainable Forest Management, Conservation Justice, FAO, Fern, FFAD, FLAG, FODER, FSC, Interholco, JPIK Indonesia, MEF Indonesia, MEF RoC, MINFOF Cameroon, Ministry of Water and Forests Republic of Ivory Coast, P4F, PALF, PPECF, Proforest, Rainforest Alliance, SAILD, US Forest Services, World Bank, WRI, WWF, ZSL
Sarah Thomas and CIDT Associate Teodyl Nkuintchua have recently returned from Malaysia where they facilitated a very successful two week Forest Governance and Training of Trainers course for staff, volunteers and stakeholders of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). The course was the last of the four national forest governance courses delivered by CIDT as part of the EU/Birdlife International ‘Strengthening Non State Actor Involvement in Forest Governance in South East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea) Project.
The first week of the programme was designed in close consultation with MNS to ensure that it dealt with topics of priority concern within the Malaysian context. It was attended by 43 partners and stakeholders of the project, representing Government, Private Sector, Civil Society and Community organisations and from across the politically distinct federal territories of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. The content included forest governance assessment, corruption, trade-based initiatives, indigenous community rights, gender, climate change and REDD+. The course also addressed issues around multi-stakeholder communication. These sessions helped participants to identify ‘spaces’ for participation and influence of non-state actors within the governance structure, to explore power relationships and multi-stakeholder interaction; and to build awareness of and competency in the key skills for effective engagement (change management, representation, advocacy, negotiation, networking & influencing skills). This was achieved through a series of analytical exercises and role play activities, including stakeholder mapping and communication analysis.
The second week of the course, which took place at the Belum Forest Reserve, focused on Training of Trainers and was attended by 21 MNS staff and volunteers and a small number of representatives from partner CSOs. During the second week, participants were supported to design and deliver targeted training inputs for different stakeholder groups in order to support wider dissemination of Week 1 content. The courses developed included workshops on forest monitoring, REDD+, trade dynamics and environmental education for school teachers.
Some photos of the workshop
New FLEGT Watch application to provide a satellite-based forest warning system in Central/West Africa
CIDT, through its CV4C project, is joining forces with Visioterra and Tropenbos to develop an innovative tool to be used in several countries of Central and West Africa to monitor illegal logging and other forms of forest cover change. However, cloud cover is a major obstacle for optical instruments limiting real-time monitoring of tropical forested regions, including many parts in Central and West Africa. Consequently, there are information blind spots for users, including decision makers, which creates opportunities for illegal logging hotspots to arise and persist.
The system named “FLEGT Watch” will overcome the problem of cloud cover through the use of radar based satellite images enabling users to detect changes using the latest satellite maps and information on land use, forest cover, fires, and hydrology. FLEGT Watch, using synthetic-aperture radar will disseminate visual and geo-referenced alerts that can be received on tablets and smartphones, enabling forest watch communities to enhance their performance.
FLEGT Watch in a nutshell:
- Systematically analyze data from Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites
- calculate bio-geophysical indices related to the forest (biomass, leaves, vegetation, humidity …),
- automatically detect the changes of values of these parameters in the satellite image just acquired,
- send notifications of change (s) or alarms to observers in their areas of interest,
- embed satellite data, maps and images in a field application and / or on smartphones,
- allow to find evidence (photos, measurements, comments …) in-situ and to share them in the network of observers and beyond,
- provide dashboards of observed changes and their monitoring by observers,
- publish reports on all observations or a particular observation,
A first version of FLEGT Watch will be delivered in May 2018. The final version will be delivered in October 2018. Training will be provided to independent observers from the 8 Central and West African countries.
CIDT staff Sarah Thomas and Richard Nyirenda have recently returned from Papua New Guinea where they were delivering a two week training course on ‘Improving Forest Governance’ as part of the EU/Birdlife International project ‘Strengthening Non State Actor Involvement in Forest Governance in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea‘.
The Papua New Guinea course was designed for staff and key local stakeholders of the national partner organisation ‘Tenkile Conservation Alliance’ (TCA) and was held at their remote base in Lumi, in the Torricelli Mountain range. TCA is doing groundbreaking work, combining conservation with community development, to protect the region’s rainforest and biodiversity, including critically endangered species such as the Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos.
The first week of the course, attended by 40 TCA staff and local and provincial government representatives, explored key governance concepts and challenges including strategies for ensuring greater involvement of civil society and communities in forest sector policy decisions. Topics covered included forest governance assessment, corruption, climate change and REDD+. Course participants also discussed the importance of effective multi-stakeholder processes at all decision-making levels, and reflected on ways to improve the representation of forest dependent communities, including through enhanced advocacy, influencing and networking.
The second week of the course was a Training of Trainers delivered to 25 TCA staff, including community outreach and research officers, supporting them in the design and delivery of tailored training inputs for other groups. Staff worked on the design of courses on climate change, water, sanitation and health, and good governance, adapting materials and methodology to target community audiences.
Photos from the course
CIDT through the EU-funded Citizen Voices for Change project participated in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership 17th Meeting of the Parties from 24–27 October in Douala, Cameroon. CIDT was represented by forest governance and monitoring experts Dr Aurelian Mbzibain and Richard Nyirenda.
Aurelian Mbzibain and Richard Nyirenda prepared a background paper on ‘How to address the lack of adequate regulation of the fast growing national and regional timber’. This was delivered in the ‘Forest Governance/Policy and Land Use’ stream of the meeting.
A presentation of the paper was made at the conference including another presentation looking at the challenges and issues for monitoring legality within domestic and regional timber markets in the Congo basin. More than 60 participants took attended the stream on Forest Governance, Policy and Land use stream.
CIDT’s contribution on this stream was critical in influencing some of the recommendations of the work stream. The relevant recommendations are;
- Recommendation 1: Develop a practical guide entitled “Technological decision-making tools for the Congo Basin” to guide users and practitioners based on the kind of information they search for. This practical guide will be unveiled at the next MOP and distributed to participants.
- Recommendation 4: Conduct, under the auspices of the COMIFAC General Secretariat, a feasibility study on the possibilities for the Congo Basin forest nations to adopt a tax incentive aimed at gradually formalizing the domestic wood industries. The findings of the study will be considered during a technical validation session that will take place during the next MOP.
CIDT will be involved in the implementation of Recommendation 1 through some of the applications and platforms that are being developed with partners through the CV4C project, namely FLEGT Watch, the Open Timber Portal (WRI), and OBSTER (CED).
The Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) is a non-profit initiative to promote the conservation and responsible management of the Congo Basin’s tropical forests. The main objective of this partnership is to improve the management of natural resources and increase the standard of living in the Congo Basin. The CBFP now brings together 70 partners from governments, donors, international organisations, NGOs, scientific institutions and the private sector. Find out more about the CBFP Meeting of the Parties.
Below: The CV4C team give out information at the project stand.
CIDT, collaborating with the Interpol Regional office for Central Africa, delivered a 3-day workshop (14-16 November 2017) on law enforcement and illegal logging in the Congo Basin in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The conference forms part of the EU funded project Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) which aims to strengthen the contribution of civil society, indigenous peoples and community organisations to improve forest governance and sustainable forest management.
This conference, the first of its kind, brought together law enforcement authorities and non-state actors in the Congo Basin.
The main objectives of the workshops were to to explore how their different roles can serve to support each other, explore mechanisms for exchanging and sharing information and build mutual trust for collaboration to achieve their respective remits to improve forest governance and fight against illegal logging and trade.
An impactful agenda
Items on the agenda included:
- Update on Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs)
- The State of law enforcement, forest trade and forest crimes in the Congo Basin – an introduction to the law enforcement agencies in the region
- Civil society led forest monitoring in the Congo Basin, contributions to law enforcement – forest monitoring tools and methodologies
- Transparency and corruption in natural resources sectors in the Congo Basin – lessons learned from other illegal industries and activities concerning wildlife, fauna, drugs and human trafficking
- Looking beyond forest concessions
- Forest Control inspection and enforcement- who does what and how.
- Facilitated Session on Establishment of a forest law enforcement working group in the Congo Basin
- Bilateral meetings between law enforcement and civil society – Concrete plans for collaboration
Following two full days of presenting different methodologies, tools, collaborative partnerships and challenges with respect to the above agenda items, state and non-state actors came together to discuss and develop country-specific action plans addressing how they will work collaboratively to improve the response of law enforcement in the illegal timber industry.
The discussion period allowed for actors, who have never had the opportunity to sit before each other, to understand the challenges and constraints that shape one another’s capacity to achieve their organisational and industry aims.
The cross-sectoral discussions produced country and context specific action plans focussing on the integration of lessons learned from the conference and their day to day work.
Irrespective of these diverse country contexts, the actors representing the five countries* involved in CV4C have identified next-step actions that resonate across the region.
Commitment to action
Below are some of the proposed actions to be taken.
- Revision of the National Strategy for Forest and Wildlife Control (CAM)
- Create a multi-actor national databases on environmental crime and mechanism for maintenance including Independent Observer reports (CAM, CAR, DRC, GAB, RDC)
- Create an Independent Observer network at national level with mechanisms of sharing information (DRC)
- Strengthen the capacity of CSOs and justice at the provincial and local levels in the monitoring of forest activities (DRC)
- Broaden the number of actors in collaboration and partnership opportunities with the public authorities and law enforcement agencies including Interpol (CAM, GAB, RDC)
*The conference brought together participants hailing from the five project countries that form CV4C: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo. Additionally, there were participants from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Belgium, USA, and France.
For further details and information about the sessions and to download the PowerPoint presentations please see the conference web page.
Photos from the event
CIDT forest governance and capacity building experts Richard Nyirenda and Des Mahony delivered a Forest Governance and Training of Trainers course in Indonesia, hosted by Burung Indonesia from the 4-15 September 2017. The two-week training course was held as part of an EU funded project coordinated by Birdlife International. The project is also implemented in Malaysia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
The training course involved participants from civil society, private sector (Ecosystem Restoration Concessions) and government (Ministry of Environment and Forestry – Forest Management Units). Learning was focused on building the skills and understanding of participants on forest governance,as well as the development and delivery of training programmes. During the course participants had the opportunity to develop innovative and collaborative responses to governance challenges in Indonesia. At the end of the course, participants developed individual action plans on how they will integrate the lessons learned into their day to day work. Topics covered during the course included:
- Drivers of poor forest governance
- Corruption and criminality in the forest sector
- Timber legality assurance systems (TLAS)
- Forest governance monitoring and assessment
- Multi-stakeholder processes
- Communication and Presentation skills
- Training Needs Assessments
- Training and Learning Methods
The training course was officially opened by the Director General for Sustainable Management of Production Forests in the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Pak Djohan Utama Perbatasari. He highlighted that the training was critical in building the capacity of stakeholders in improving forest governance in Indonesia within the framework of both FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ and in supporting the Ecosystem Restoration Working Group to contribute positively toward the policy making process in Indonesia. Indonesia is the first country to issue FLEGT licenses since November, 2016.
Similar courses led by CIDT will be held in the Philippines, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea in the next few months.
With support from CIDT, the Faculty of Agronomy and Agricultural Sciences (FASA) at Dschang University has received funding from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to create new training courses in forest governance that will help to meet the EU-FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) requirements.
Having helped to develop this project, CIDT will contribute as a technical partner along with another organisation, the ‘Pole of Support to the Professionalisation of the Higher Education in Central Africa’ (PAPESAC). The participation of the University of Wolverhampton is in line with the implementation of the joint letter of intent signed between the Dschang University and the University of Wolverhampton in June 2016 (pictured above).
Training in the areas of forest governance and the environment been a priority for some years in Cameroon, thanks to the numerous national and international development opportunities in these areas, particularly regarding the transition to a green economy. However, since the VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) with the European Union was initiated in 2011, capacity strengthening activities have been targeted predominantly at civil society organisations. This alone will not meet the levels expected for VPA implementation and for creating a system of sustainable governance of forest resources in Cameroon. Therefore, there is still a need for training current and future professionals in the sector, a need which this project addresses.
FAO, CIDT and PAPESAC are supporting Dschang University in the development of three training programmes in the field of forest governance, which have potential to be extended to the whole Central African subregion. The programmes consist of:
- Ongoing training for current professionals, aimed at updating their skills in relation to emergent problems in the forestry sector;
- A transversal training programme for students from non-forestry related subjects, such as the sciences and social sciences, in order to extend the culture of governance and forest governance to other disciplines;
- A forest governance training programme for HE students undertaking environmental and forestry degrees in Cameroon.
These programmes will be directed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers and teachers at Dschang University and will help raise the quality of current and future professionals in Cameroon.
A two-week training course on the concept of Independent Monitoring (IM) was organised in Libreville, from 21 August to 1 September 2017. The training aimed to strengthening capacities of stakeholders in the field of forest governance monitoring through the use of independent monitoring tools and techniques.
Involving both a theoretical and practical phase, the training was delivered to members of a CSO platform called ʺGabon, Ma Terre Mon Droitʺ, Forestry Administration and the technical staff of Brainforest. As part of the CV4C project, the training took place with the support of partner FLAG, which provided IM experts to lead the workshops.
There were discussions on presenting the concept and tools of independent monitoring, in order to improve the technical capabilities of the administration as well as Gabonese civil society in the monitoring and management of forest resources.
The training involved two phases: theoretical and practical:
During the four days theoretical training, learners individually trained on the concepts of Good Governance, Forest Governance and Independent Monitoring. A presentation, followed by exchanges in the framework of the national implementation of IM in Gabon and the possible fields of monitoring, also helped to inform learners on the major phases during the implementation of an Independent Monitoring.
Trainees discussed the methodology for planning and carrying out an Independent Monitoring mission, punctuated by exercises in the transcription of geographical information as well as legal analysis of information.
Mrs. Rose ONDO of CURFOD attended the workshops, “this training is very useful for the Gabonese civil society, at the time when we face several burning problems that affect communities; these include issues of land ownership and land grabbing by agro-industries, as well as issues concerning illegal logging, where communities are sometimes complicit.”
Referring to the role of the civil society, she further said that “the first thing to do is to go to the communities with the knowledge and tools acquired during the training in order to sensitise and supervise them so that they can actually enjoy their rights, and be able to be a source of information for the civil society by denouncing abuses and irregularities. To this end, we need to equip ourselves to understand the rights of the communities in the various texts and laws. ”
The practical phase consisted of the preparation and carrying out of an independent monitoring mission in a forest concession with assistance of the central and local forestry administration and the concessionaire. The exercise was divided into three actions: documentary research, interviews and on-site observation.
Mrs Horline NJIKE BILOGUE MVOGO considered the context of the training, “Brainforest is a partner in the CV4C project and has requested training in Independent Monitoring (IM). It is in this context that FLAG has programmed this training to share its experience with the Gabonese civil societyʺ. According to Mrs Mvogo, “IM is this right of view that every citizen has concerning its environment. As a citizen of the Congo Basin, I have the right and the duty to express my views on natural resources management, simply because I am the first to be impacted when they are poorly managed. Through the IM, the Civil Society finds a concerted, coordinated and coherent means to intervene in the monitoring of the good management of natural resources; IM therefore appears to be an instrument that everyone can appropriate.ʺ
For more photos from this event view the Flickr photo gallery.