July 24-26, 2019 in Kribi, Cameroon.
In the Congo Basin, illegal exploitation of natural resources causes heavy financial losses for wood-producing countries and therefore represents a significant income shortfall for governments. Similarly, it contributes to increasing rates of deforestation and forest degradation, which have environmental consequences. On the basis of these findings, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) developed a mechanism to denounce illegal practices and promote better enforcement of legislation on the management of natural resources and the environment – Independent Monitoring (IM) addresses the problem of illegal logging by providing specific recommendations based on reliable information from field surveys.
However, after more than a decade of implementation, the effectiveness of IM in influencing policy and major decisions, although perceptible, remains insufficient. In addition to the sometimes conflicting relations with the administrations in charge of natural resource management and the private sector, the insufficient technical and financial capacities, the sometimes questionable quality of the data produced and the diversity of IM implementation approaches constitute major obstacles that monitors have to overcome.
The harmonisation of IM actions in the Congo Basin proves to be one of the possible sustainable solutions to improve the credibility and effectiveness of IM. It is in this area that members of the ‘African Platform of Organisations Implementing Independent Observation’ (PA-OI), have decided to combine their efforts to achieve more professional IM practices with more impact, both national and regional. Since its creation, PA-OI’s mission has been to harmonise IM methodologies and strategies in Africa. To this end, the group held a reflection workshop from 24 to 26 July 2019 in Kribi, Cameroon, which was attended by ten civil society organisations from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon and Cameroon. Among them were eight PA-OI member organisations, and two other invited organisations.
The technical meeting consisted of four sessions:
- The functioning of the PA-OI secretariat
- Improved credibility and effectiveness of IM
- Internal and external communication of PA-OI
- Financing of IM and PA-OI
Following discussions, a baseline of the Principles, Criteria, Indicators (PCI) and the auditors of a robust and effective IM was amended and adopted. In the same vein, PA-OI’s internal and external communication strategy, graphic charter and IM information sharing tool were also reviewed and validated by the participants. Additionally, a reflection sessions was organised on financing IM and the platform. It identified key challenges and priorities for natural resource management and the environment, key processes that address these challenges and priorities; to define the role of the IM in relation to these processes and finally to identify the key actors who may be interested in IM actions and their areas of interest. This exercise identified some avenues that could be explored for the financing IM activities in the sub-region. The organisation of this workshop was made possible thanks to the financial support of the CV4C project.