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.