Side Event at UNFCCC Climate Conference - COP15: REDD Initiatives in the Congo Basin co-organised by COMIFAC and GAF AG
A side event co-hosted by the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) and GAF AG Munich, Germany was organized on the 11th of December 2009 at the Bella Centre COP15 Copenhagen. The event was also supported by the German Development Bank (KfW), the German Technical Corporation (GTZ) and Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). Important to note is the participation of key Environment and Forest Ministers from the COMIFAC sub-region; more specifically the Ministers from the Central African Republic (current President of COMIFAC), the Secretary General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Ministers from the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Finally the German Minister of Economic Development and Cooperation also supported and participated in the Side Event. Additionally representatives from governments, NGOs and the scientific community were also present.
The event was moderated by Dr. Hans Schipulle, Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and started with a series of speeches from the President of COMIFAC, the Secretary General of ECCAS and the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development.
H.E. Emmanuel Bizot, President of COMIFAC and Minister of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fishing of the Central African Republic reminded the audience of the importance of REDD to Congo basin countries. He stated that the implementation of REDD is more than just the protection of trees but should be considered in the context of economic and social development.
The Secretary General of the Economic Commission of Central African States briefed the audience on the role of ECCAS in the conservation and management of natural resources in the Central African sub-region. The "Programme d'Appui à la Conservation des Ecosystèmes du Bassin du Congo -PACEBCo" co-financed by ECCAS and the African Development Bank was presented as an example.
H.E. Dirk Niebel, German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development noted that the protection of equatorial forests was high on the agenda of the German Government and that Germany will ensure that REDD will be part of a post-Kyoto mechanism. He reaffirmed the continuous support of the German Government to the COMIFAC Secretariat and the Convergence Plan.
The second phase of the event comprised a series of presentations to highlight ongoing and planned REDD activities/initiatives in the sub-region.
Dr. Joseph Armathe Amougou, UNFCCC Climate Focal Point of Cameroon and Dr. Thomas Häusler of GAF AG presented the preliminary results, opportunities and lessons learned from the REDD Cameroon Pilot Project (supported by KfW, GTZ and ESA). This project has advanced in terms of methods developed for deforestation assessment and biomass accounting and the results of the project provide a framework for implementation of REDD activities in the Congo region, as well as for south-south co-operation (in the case of Cameroon, support was received from Bolivia).
Dr. Michael Obersteiner of IIASA demonstrated the preliminary result and perspectives of the regional study on the modeling of future deforestation tendencies in the Congo basin and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The National REDD Coordinator of the Republic of Congo Mr. Georges Boudzanga and Dr. René Siwe of GAF AG presented the new REDD Pilot activities which will be implemented from 2009-2012, supported by ESA for a GSE FM REDD Extension in the Republic of Congo. Finally, Mr. Vincent Kasulu, UNFCCC Climate Focal Point for the Democratic Republic of Congo informed about the current status of the UN-REDD project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The event was closed with words from H.E. Henri Djombo, Minister of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and Environment of the Republic of Congo and H.E. José Endundo Bononge, Minister of Environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the 2004 Nobel Price Laureate Prof. Wangari Mathai. She requested the audience to join forces in urging their heads of states to give COMIFAC an independent financing mechanism.
This Side Event provided a platform for the Congo region to present their positions on REDD, as well as the current REDD activities, which demonstrated the progress and success in achieving their national and regional goals in this climate change sector. It brought together both the political and technical issues in one session which is a key requirement for successful REDD implementation in the region.