2019 Doula Civil Society Day
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"Congo Basin forests at the crossroads between Conservation - Sustainable Management and Investments in the Forest Environment: Civil society’s role and local communities’ expectations”
BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
The three major Rio conventions adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, profoundly impacted the way States subsequently managed their forest resources.
The Johannesburg Summit in 2002, held in the aftermath of the adoption of the Yaoundé Declaration in 1999, reaffirmed the commitment of the International Community to sustainable development and led to the creation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), among others.
The partnership was established to support efforts to preserve and sustainably manage Central African forests and to increase the effectiveness of its members' programmes and initiatives by promoting dialogue, collaboration and communication between them.
Under the Facilitation of the Kingdom of Belgium, which has revamped this mandate, the focus has been placed on forests and forest-dependent people.
The current context of forest exploitation calls for sustainable management of forests as a lever for development and poverty alleviation in order to improve the livelihoods of people living around forests. This requires less devastated territories, less impoverished populations and civil society getting more active in raising the alarm and calling for a better governance framework and improved livelihoods for people leaving around forests.
The 2018 Brussels Declaration stresses that "effective governance frameworks must be implemented with the active participation of civil society, indigenous peoples, local communities, women and youth, in order to protect the potential of the Congo Basin forests and prevent the irreparable loss of their vast and unique biodiversity";
In collaboration with COMIFAC, the CBFP uses the Treaty establishing COMIFAC as its working tool. The Treaty, adopted in Brazzaville in 2005, recognizes the existence of CEFDHAC as an organization bringing together non-state actors including civil society and IPLCs, and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue, consultations, discussions and debates in the sub-region.
Using resources received towards components of respective COMIFAC projects, CEFDHAC has continuously contributed to the implementation of the Convergence Plan. Among other things, it has made governance, improving livelihoods, protecting and taking into account the rights of the IPCLs its main concern, with the understanding that laissez-faire in the forestry sector is driving the inevitable deterioration of ecosystem functions as these ecosystems face demographic pressure or market demand. This concern is widely shared by the civil society organizations grouped within the ACRN.
Without playing to the much-touted dynamic of payments for environmental services, valuing forest products derived from sustainable practices, land law reform and community participation that is respectful of both scientific and traditional knowledge, investments are usually made for the benefit of people living in and around forests.
The challenge of improving the livelihoods of these people and tracking these investments in terms of "given-drived", requires accountability at all levels and power sharing between stakeholders.
This challenge is embodied in the legislative and regulatory texts in force in the Congo Basin countries, community participation and the urgent need to protect the rights of communities, which led civil society actors to sound alarms which were echoed by CEFDHAC and ACRN on 13 June 2019 in Malabo, during the 6th meeting of the CBFP Council.
Their detailed statement calls for deeper reflection on the development of sub-regional standards to measure the impact of investments made in communities living around forests.
The current context of conservation and sustainable management of Central African forests in general, and of protected areas and buffer zones in these areas in particular, is marked by a lack of indicators to assess:
- The impact of different initiatives geared towards the implementation of the Convergence Plan:
- compliance and consideration of the rights of communities and the improvement of their livelihoods;
- compliance with good governance and management efforts while avoiding encroachment on key conservation areas.
In light of baselines for different expected impacts of certain projects, and recent developments regarding alleged violations of certain rights of Baka communities by certain international NGOs, it must ensure that national and sub-regional standards that will be used to assess the above-mentioned impacts are developed in a participatory manner.
It is in this connection that the Civil Society College would like to convey its gratitude to the CBFP Facilitation of the Kingdom of Belgium, for affording it the opportunity to track progress towards the holding of the special Civil Society Day scheduled for 18 December 2019. As part of the build up to the special day, discussion workshops, reflection and debate forums will be organized and their findings presented and reviewed at the upcoming meeting, culminating in the adoption of a roadmap.
- To help ensure the operational anchoring of emerging themes related to conservation, sustainable forest management and improved livelihoods for people living in and around forests.
-To hold a Day of the Civil Society College to showcase the findings of discussions conducted upstream on emerging themes related to conservation, SFM and improved livelihoods for people living in and around forests.
- To take ownership of the participatory forestry roadmap and the development of its toolbox, as well as relevant initiatives that are ongoing or likely to be developed under emerging themes, in order to strengthen the capacities of civil society and local communities to work towards biodiversity conservation while improving the socio-economic status of IPCLs:
-To identify actions needed to implement one of the recommendations of the 18th MoP held in Brussels which recalls “the crucial need to effectively enforce national legal and regulatory frameworks which are meant to form the main pillar of good governance to nurture the economic, biological and cultural value of the renewable natural resources of the Congo Basin forests”;
-To take ownership of the N’Djamena anti-poaching roadmap including the challenge of managing protected areas, buffer zones and transboundary landscapes in order to increase civil society’s contribution to its implementation;
-To review the challenges associated with transhumance, strengthening the resilience of our communities to the adverse effects of climate change and all other relevant initiatives aimed at fighting climate change in order to increase carbon sequestration and hence step up the contribution of the Congo Basin forests to the fight against global warming with emphasis on REDD+ and other climate-related initiatives in such a way as to benefit the IPLCs.;
-To discuss potential financing available to civil society organizations to monitor and evaluate economic and social development projects implemented for the benefit of IPLCs, for submission during a dialogue to be held with the Donors’ College;
To take ownership of the process of preparing the New Deal Humanity and Nature and define the conditions for the Civil Society College's contribution to articulating the positions of its members, including those of IPCLs..
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