The 10th edition of the Cameroon Forest Governance Forum opened today, 16th March, under the theme “Congo Basin VPA Implementation: Champoining Forest People’s Rights and Participation.
Presided over by Mrs. Koulsoumi Alhadji epsé Boukar, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Forest and Willdlife, the forum was attended by British High Commissioner to Cameroon, H.E. Brian Olley, the Ambassador of the European Union to Cameroon, H.E. Françoise Collet, representatives from other E.U. forest stakeholder diplomatic missions such as the French and German embassies, the Director of the French Development Agency, forest management experts, forest community leaders and parliamentarians of forest rich constituencies.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the forum H.E. Brian Olley, British High Commissioner to Cameroon said “ I am delighted that the UK is one of the major sponsors of today’s event. Sustainable development requires the involvement of forest communities and I am pleased they are strongly represented in the forum”.
H.E. Olley, in his speech, also pointed out the consequences of illegal logging on the lives of forest communities in the Central African subregion especially for those communities found in Congo Basin member countries, who depend largely on forest resources for their livelihoods.
Speeches from the E.U. Ambassador to Cameroon, the representative of the Central African Forest Commission-COMIFAC and the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, all called on actors to ensure that the Voluntary Patnership Agreement- VPA / FLEGT facility of the E.U. and other forest governance mechanisms agreed on, should be well implemented and should include the participation of forest comunities so as to ensure proper management of forest resources and effective sustainable development of the forest people.
The forum organised in West and Central Africa has over ten years has had high impact in the region - with lesson learning, exchange of updates about progress with fighting illegal logging and creation of strategic partnerships between participants and different stakeholder groups. Focus needs to continue on multistakeholder engagement in national forest policy, VPA/ FLEGT and REDD+ processes, support to civi society to play a watch dog role, monitor processes and improve transparency in the forest sector - key to sustainable management of forests and benefits to forest dependent communities
The 10th Forest Governance Forum which will run from the 16 to the 18 of March is partly funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development-DFID and the European Union, and organised by the Centre for International Development and Training- CIDT of the University of Wolverhampton, UK.