The Citizen Voices for Change project was officially launched in Kinshasa on 26 April by H.E Atis Kabongo Kalonji, the Minster of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Attended by representatives of the European Union, Civil Society, CIDT and partner organisations from all five project countries, as well as several media channels and approximately 100 guests, the launch featured a range of speeches and a full introduction to the project. It was followed by a press conference for local and regional media.
The Minister (above) thanked technical and financial partners of the project, and emphasised the alignment of the project objectives with the national vision for 2030 espoused by President Joseph Kabila KABANGE. He stressed that Independent Monitoring must support the VPA process in DRC by showing the traceability of timber.
The opening speech was made by the hosting project partner, Mr Essylot Lubala (above) from the Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière (OGF). He stressed the importance of forging a capable forest monitoring system and its potential to become an effective tool to evaluate and strengthen compliance in the forest sector.
Mr Joseph Bobia Bonkaw (above) then addressed the launch as the formal representative of civil society in DRC. He spoke about the timely nature of this project in the region, as well as the potential impact on indigenous peoples that depend on the forest.
The Director of the Project, Ella Haruna (above) of CIDT, next thanked the European Union for their commitment to driving results in the forest governance sphere at national, regional and global levels; and their significant financial support to make this partnership and project a reality. She continued:
“The CV4C project approach balances the response to particular national governance challenges, with the facilitation of maximum opportunities for regional lesson learning and collaboration. Joint capacity strengthening is a key feature of this Action, serving to build local ownership and long term sustainable impacts.”
The European Union was represented by the Head of Sector for Environment, Agriculture and Health Mr Arnold Jacques de Dixmude (above). He spoke about the EU’s motivations in investing in the project, placing it in the context of wider forest governance initiatives, such as FLEGT.