COP26 forum on Congo Basin rainforests, people and biodiversity

Saving Africa’s Congo Basin Rainforests, People and Biodiversity: An Interactive Forum on Civil Society led forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement Actions, Learning and Priorities for the Struggle Ahead


This event took place on 11 November 2021. Here are the key resources:

Read our latest blog post – CIDT @ COP 26 – seeking a fair deal for the Congo Basin forests to find out more about COP and its importance, as well as our what has bought us to this event. 


Congo Basin forests are of global importance. Unfortunately, these forests are under severe threats from unsustainable human activities accelerating illegal deforestation, conversion, wildlife poaching and loss of livelihoods of indigenous peoples. With support from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), CIDT, University of Wolverhampton has strengthened the role of Congo Basin Civil Society actors as environmental defenders and monitors of illegal deforestation and wildlife trafficking over the last decade; generating evidence for stronger law enforcement and sustainable management of forests and wildlife. We are proposing a panel discussion during COP 26 which will provide a unique opportunity for three representatives from Cameroon, Republic of Congo and Gabon to engage face-to-face with the live audience (in French with simultaneous translation) their first hand experiences of tropical forest and biodiversity loss and their tactics to counter illegal deforestation and wildlife trafficking in the region*. These regional experts will be complimented by a panel of international experts on independent forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement from CIDT and other international organisations (TBC).

The aim of the panel discussion to be hosted in the COMIFAC pavilion (specify location) is to present and critique the role of independent forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement by civil society as a key tool for fighting illegal deforestation and biodiversity loss while highlighting its contributions to climate change. Panellists will share Central African experience and recommendations to stimulate debate and improved understanding of the realistic options for the Congo Basin. The panel session will target government officials, donor agencies, private sector, NGOs, Biodiversity Conservationists, etc.

Agenda for the panel discussion

  • Introduction: The Head of CIDT, Professor Philip Dearden will faciliate the panel discussions. The panellists will be introduced together with a brief overview of IFM and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement while showcasing FCDO and other funding partners’ support to its development in the past decade (5 mins).
  • Part 1 – experience from the last decade: This will be followed by three fast moving 10 minute presentations by our expert Congo Basin civil society partners or international experts on the theme of ‘Independent Forest and wildlife Monitoring and law enforcement’ case studies. Experience from the last decade will be drawn and presented from Congo, Gabon and Cameroon. (30 mins).
  • Audience questions to the panel: Facilitated questions from both the live and remote audience to the panel to further clarify and critique on tactics and strategies to save Africa’s Congo Basin Rainforests, People and Biodiversity.(10 mins).
  • Part 2 – recommendations for the next decade: This will be a further 15 minutes round of presentation reflecting on ways forward for a stronger role of independent forest  and wildlife monitoring in saving the Congo Basin forests, people and biodiversity. (15 mins).
  • Audience questions to the panel: Facilitated questions from the live and remote audience to further clarify and critique the recommendations for way forward (10 mins).
  • Conclusion: The facilitator will conclude aiming to summarise the recommendations for action drawn both from the Panel and the Audiences Contributions. (5 mins).

Meet the panel

Moderator: Prof Philip N Dearden, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

Phil has spent his career working on practical development projects working at the intersection of environmental issues and international development. He has worked on many projects/programmes and undertaken capacity development work in over 50 counties.

Convenor: Prof Aurelian Mbzibain, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

Aurelian is a Professor of International Development at the University of Wolverhampton and the Team Lead on Climate, Forests, Agriculture and Wildlife at the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT). His work and research are in forest governance networks, civil society, forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. His recent publications have been in World Development and Forest Policy and Economics.

Dr Jim Djontu, European Forest Institute

Jim is a land use and forest governance Expert with the European Forest Institute (EFI). He has over 20 years on experience in the sector and has deep knowledge and understanding of development practices with various institutional donors and agencies. Jim has supported FLEGT and REDD+ processes in several Congo Basin countries. He is and ex-FLEGT/VPA Facilitator for the Republic of Congo.

Harrison Nnoko, AJESH Cameroon

Harrison is the Co-founder and CEO of AJESH. He has been very influential in the negotiation and implementation of the FLEGT VPA in Cameroon and was part of the CSO team of experts that analysed Chinese involvement in the forest and natural resources sector in Cameroon and the Congo Basin.

Dr Alison Hoare, Chatham House

Alison Hoare is a senior research fellow of Chatham House, with expertise in international forestry policy, forest governance, and natural resource use and trade. She has also conducted research on sustainable investment standards, infrastructure and climate change. She has previously worked with a range of environmental and forestry organisations, undertaking research, policy analysis and project management.

Lilian Barros, Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ)

Lilian is Permanent Secretary of Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ) and Coordinator of the Plateforme pour la Gestion Durable des Forêts (PGDF) in Congo. He is also Project Manager of the EU and FCDO funded PASGOF-SNOIE independent forest monitoring project. Lilian is a lawyer by training with over 15 years of experience in IFM, legal reform and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Françoise Van de Ven, International Tropical Timber Technical Association

Françoise was Chair at UFIGA from 2015-2021. She has worked in Belgium in the wood sector and spent 18 years in DRC, including 8 years as a leader of companies in the timber sector and 9 years as Secretary General of the Federation of timber processing companies (FIB). Her long experience, extensive international network, and knowledge of the countries of the Congo Basin make her a resource person for all stakeholders. She also represents the Timber associations on the Board of Directors of ATIBT.

Arielle Nkodo, FAO FLEGT Programme

Arielle is an experienced forest and wildlife engineer with a special focus on tropical forests, community forestry, governance and forest sector policy, and Independent Forest Monitoring focused on the implementation of sustainable forest resource management processes (i.e REDD+, FLEGT and FSC). Through her work in Central Africa, Arielle has gained precious local insight and expertise. She takes special interest in support to local communities’ livelihoods through the sustainable use of forest resources, good forest governance and the fight against illegal logging.

Sarah Thomas, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

Sarah’s work focuses mainly on supporting the organisational development of civil society and community organisations in the forest sector, and strengthening the effectiveness, sustainability and influence of networks and coalitions of Civil Society and non-state actors in governance and policymaking processes. She has worked with partner NGOs and networks across the Congo Basin and has also led civil society capacity development initiatives in SE Asia and Liberia.

Richard Nyrienda, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

Richard’s key work is around researching and delivering interventions that seek to strengthen the capability of non-state actors to effectively engage in national and international policy processes around reducing deforestation and degradation, combatting illegal logging, and promoting the role of forest in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Over the last few years Richard has worked extensive

Financial Contribution: CIDT will draw on its ongoing FCDO/EU funded grants to support and sponsor reasonable share of the pavilion costs to be agreed with FCDO and COMIFAC. CIDT will also support the participation of Congo Basin partners in case COMIFAC is able to issue accreditation letters and facilitate access to daily access passes to the Blue zone for the events.

*The assumption being that they are able to gain accreditation with the support of COMIFAC and CBFP and obtain visas in time to travel.

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