Posted on June 12, 2017 8:41:00 AM
As part of the DRC's efforts to address all risks that may be borne or caused by its programs, the REDD+ National Fund (FONAREDD) has recently undertaken extensive consultation work on forest sector risks. This work, initiated last year, responds to one of the milestones of the Letter of Intent under the "Governance" objective, and represents a response to the CAFI Executive Board Decision EB.2017.02. A series of workshops thus brought together more than 70 stakeholders from all sides and concluded on 24 May with the validation of the risk management matrix and the agreement on a multi-stakeholder monitoring platform.
Interview with Victor Kabengele, co-coordinator of the Interim Executive Secretariat of FONAREDD, and Louise Kavira, coordinator of the national NGO "Organisation des Amis de la Nature" (Association of Friends of Nature).
Victor Kabengele : From a programmatic point of view, this risk matrix identifies all the pitfalls we may encounter in achieving the forestry milestones of the Letter of Intent. It incorporates mitigation measures as well as activities that participants identified collectively. The programme on Sustainable Management of Forest should incorporate the relevant actions and mitigation measures into its results framework, and be revised accordingly. And this is because all CAFI-funded programs must help us achieve the milestones of the Letter of Intent.
From a process perspective, we have documents that represent about 2800 hours of collective work, spanning over the five days that stakeholders have spent together. This is an undeniable consensus that, for the SFM program, ensures unparalleled adhesion and legitimacy. We expect the French Development Agency [AFD, a bidder under the Call for proposals #04, which was recently reviewed by the FONAREDD Technical Committee], to capitalize on all these efforts.
Louise Kavira : I am satisfied with the work undertaken. Generally speaking, we agree with the industrial exploitation of wood in our country, as long as indigenous and local peoples are trained to negotiate on social clauses and terms of reference of contracts they often sign with industrial foresters. This will help prevent abuses, that we observe regularly, by industrial foresters, abuses whose victims are Indigenous and local people, and that happen right under the nose of civil servants.
V. K. : In terms of time, be aware that we completed the matrix for all the other seven objectives in two days, while for the forest objective it took us five days of collective work, not to mention the days of preparation that the Secretariat has put in ! This process is unprecendeted in terms of the number of participants, quality of the debates, involvement and interest - sometimes even emotion - of stakeholders. Of course, the debates were more intense during our work on the forest objective. In fact, these workshops served not only to finalize the matrix, but also to compare and contrast perspectives, identify elements of forest policy, what needs to be updated in the Forest Code and, of course, what is required before the lifting of the moratorium is considered. We also agreed that the decision to lift the moratorium is a political decision, and that we must focus on technical requirements and ensure that they are robust and meet international standards of accountability and transparency. This is already a big step forward.
We talked about issues where opinions differed, such as oversight, artisanal exploitation, the informal sector, heavy taxation, and community forestry and what is lacking in its implementation. All these are delicate topics, but they are essential. To sum up, I would say the debates have been both lively and constructive.
L. K: In my sense, the workshops organized by the FONAREDD were very good. The ones where I participated in person were well-moderated, and marked by mutual listening and respect, especially towards indigenous participants like me.
V. K : The matrix is a management tool and had already been submitted in February to the Steering Committee of the FONAREDD. Its updated version will be submitted again at the upcoming, 4th meeting of the Steering Committee in July. Some of the risks that have been identified require a level of political intervention, such as risks related to trading in influence, abuse of power, or capture of resources. These are risks that go beyond program intervention or mere technicians. These are the risks that we will signal to the Steering Committee - which as you know brings together no less than 6 Ministers - so that political action is taken.
In addition, during the workshops we agreed on setting up a platform to oversee the reform process. This multi-stakeholder and joint platform will review the matrix every six months to update it, identify emerging risks and those that are no longer of concern. The platform does not, of course, replace the steering committee of the Programme on sustainable management of forests, but complements it, in that it will carry on the consultative, participatory and collective process that we started when preparing this matrix. We need this to ensure that the proposed Forest Policy is not undermined, the revisions to the Forest Code are accepted by all, and the revision of the status and mandate of the Independent Observer is supported by industrials, communities and the state.
As mentioned earlier, we would like to see AFD incorporate elements of the matrix into the programme on sustainable management of forest, including the operationalization of the platform, that the programme can cover. The matrix that we have produced will also be the main risk management matrix for this program.
Finally, given the nature of the work that led to its validation, we consider this matrix as a reference of the national consensus. We will refer to it as part of our dialogue with national and international partners on the subject of forestry and its management in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
L. K : On the point of the composition of the monitoring platform, FONAREDD should choose Indigenous representatives and leaders that have the status of independent experts. These sould be selected for their experience and influence among indigenous peoples, to avoid leadership conflicts between the Renovated Working group on Climate and REDD+ (GTCR-R) and the network of Indigenous and Local Peoples for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems (REPALEF), in which I act as Board Vice-chair.
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