African Countries Advance Collaborative Frameworks for Sustainable Land and Forest Use
UN Photo/Kibae Park
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A workshop in West Africa convened as part of the follow up to the 2014 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which adopted Resolution 11.17 on the African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan.

In further meetings convened by the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and the Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), regional stakeholders and partners developed recommendations on issues such as improved collaboration on forest management and land use planning, climate change and resource mobilization.

2 December 2016: A recent workshop, titled ‘Sustainable Land Use in West Africa: National and International Policy Responses that Deliver for Migratory Birds and People,’ discussed a range of regional land-use changes that are negatively impacting biodiversity and ecosystem services and undermining sustainable livelihoods of local communities. In further meetings convened by the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and the Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), regional stakeholders and partners developed recommendations on issues such as improved collaboration on forest management and land use planning, climate change and resource mobilization.

The West Africa workshop, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria, from 24-26 November 2016, convened as part of the follow up to the 2014 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which adopted Resolution 11.17 on the African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan. The resolution identified land-use changes as one of the most relevant threats for the conservation of migratory birds in Africa, noting these changes are occurring rapidly, impacting on the habitats of migratory birds, and require an integrated approach to land use management. The meeting brought together government representatives of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal with various UN organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), as well as research and civil society organizations.

Highlighting the role played by migratory birds as indicators of land-use change, UNEP/CMS Executive Secretary Bradnee Chambers said the workshop constituted a landmark that will foster cooperation among governments, UN agencies and other stakeholders to promote sustainable land management practices “that deliver for biodiversity and people.”

The meeting’s Abuja Declaration on Sustainable Land Use for People and Biodiversity in West Africa, recommends a participatory approach to land use planning and supports agro-ecological farming practices such as agroforestry, conservation agriculture, climate-smart agriculture, integrated pest management and invasive species control. It also notes that, taken together, these issues are central to delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the CMS Strategic Plan.

The meeting also prepared a draft Resolution on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds, especially in relation to sustainable land use in West Africa, for submission to the CMS Conference of Parties in October 2017 in the Philippines.

Meetings of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 21-25, and 29 November 2016, respectively.

The 16th Meeting of the Parties to the CBFP gathered around 450 participants from countries of the Congo Basin, international organizations, research institutions, the private sector and NGOs. The meeting opened with a technical segment consisting of five thematic streams, followed by a political segment consisting of meetings of the newly established CBFP Colleges and the inaugural session of the CBFP Council, and a concluding high-level plenary session.

The technical segment produced recommendations relating to: forest management policies and land use planning; management approaches and rapid response mechanisms in protected areas; public-private partnerships in the management of protected areas; climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies; and greater involvement of the private sector.

Among specific recommendations, participants called for: providing protected areas with “a rapid response and dissuasion mechanism” to respond to the growing gravity of poaching and wildlife trafficking in the sub-region; providing support to COMIFAC member countries in the process of revising their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the UNFCCC; and prioritizing the sustainability of climate funding, most notably with regard to adaptation issues, in platforms for exchange and dialogue between COMIFAC member States and their partners.

With regard to enhancing private sector involvement, the meeting recommended greater adoption of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) approach in the region to enhance transparency and enable the development of pragmatic, efficient, and easily usable traceability tools for operators. They also called for better inclusion of small- and medium-sized enterprises exploiting and commercializing wood or non-timber forest products in the legislative framework and their recognition as economic actors.

In their Final Communiqué, Parties adopted an updated version of the CBFP Cooperation Framework, reflecting the creation of the CBFP Colleges and the CBFP Council as new cooperation structures. They also resolved to further reinvigorate CBFP cooperation through “highlighting the added value of the Partnership, by attributing more credit and visibility to this common regional platform and by taking common responsibility for its functioning and development.”

In order to increase the impact of Partnership action on the decisions that affect the forests of the Congo Basin, Parties agreed to, inter alia: seek ways of engaging with other key sectors beyond forestry and environment and promote a significantly strengthened engagement of the Partnership with private sector entities. The Communiqué also highlighted Parties’ concern about the current financial challenges facing regional bodies like COMIFAC and the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) and emphasized the need to secure a sustainable basis for financing these regional organizations to reflect the ownership of their member States.

Parties also called attention to the urgent need to clearly specify the respective roles and the practical working relationship between COMIFAC and ECCAS, as a means to enhance the effectiveness of regional cooperation on issues pertinent to the Congo Basin forests.

Further reinforcing these efforts, the 9th ordinary session of the COMIFAC Council of Ministers officially launched the COMIFAC Convergence Plan’s online monitoring-evaluation platform and of Land Use Atlas, to support national land planning policies.

While approving the draft biennial budget for 2017-18, Ministers also expressed concern about continuing funding difficulties faced by the regional body and instructed the Secretariat to enforce article 20, paragraph 4 of the COMIFAC Treaty, which provides that any State which does not meet its obligations shall lose its voting rights as well as any support. Additionally, they also requested technical and financial partners to conduct prior checks before granting support to ensure that the beneficiary country’s good standing with regard to its contributions.

During the CBFP meeting, Bioversity International become an official member of the Partnership. The organization’s ongoing activities in the Congo basin include: conducting research to document the diversity within tree species that are valuable for people; analyzing threats to trees and their genetic resources; exploring ways to resolve conflicts over forest resources; and developing molecular tools for tracking the legal timber supply chain while helping to fight illegal logging and trade. As coordinator of the sub-Saharan African Forest Genetic Resources (SAFORGEN) Programme, Bioversity organized a workshop in Douala, Cameroon in April 2016 to identify regional priorities for the implementation of the FAO Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources (GPA-FGR) in Africa. [CMS Press Release on Abuja Meeting] [Abuja Declaration on Sustainable Land Use for People and Biodiversity in West Africa] [CBPF Press release on Outcomes of the 16th Meeting of the Parties] [Final Communiqué of the CBFP Meeting] [CBPF Press Release on Outcomes of COMIFAC Meeting] [Bioversity International Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on FAO Events Exploring Role of Agroforestry and Forest Monitoring in Achieving SDGs]


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