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A regional dimension to the conservation, sustainable and concerted management of Central African forest ecosystems

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What is the convergence plan?
Plan de convergence 2015 2025 fr BR Page 01The Commission of the Forests of Central Africa (COMIFAC) is equipped with a convergence plan sub-regional level which is the reference framework and coordination of all the interventions in the field of conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa. It also contributes to the strengthening of the actions undertaken by the Member States of the COMIFAC and the other actors of development. The first edition of the said Convergence Plan (2005-2014) was adopted in February 2005 in Brazzaville in the Congo in the course of the Second Summit of Heads of State of Central Africa on the forests. To ensure the success of its implementation, the said Plan has been the subject of a planning triennial operational following the phases 2006-2008 and 2009-2011. 
 
With regard to the second edition of this convergence plan for the ten-year period 2015-2025, it comes to be developed following a review process that has led to its validation in July 2014 by the Ministers of the COMIFAC. With a vision and a goal, the Convergence Plan 2 has a strategic framework declined in six (6) Priority Axs of intervention and three (3) transverse axs.
 
The priority axs of intervention are: (i) Harmonization of Forest and environmental policies; (ii) management and sustainable exploitation of forest resources; (iii) conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; (iv) fight against the effects of climate change and desertification; (v) socio-economic development and participation in multi-actors; (vi) Funding Sustainable. The transverse axs are: (i) Training and capacity-building; (ii) Research and Development (iii) communication, awareness, information and education.
 
The fact of its linkage to conventions, treaties and international agreements, regional and sub-regional to which the countries of the space COMIFAC have adhered, the implementation of this Plan of convergence 2 must respect the fundamental values set out in the Yaoundé Declaration adopted in March 1999 by the Heads of State of the sub-region at their first Summit on Forests. It is (i) to the respect of human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, (ii) the taking into account of the genus, (iii) cooperation, partnership and solidarity and (iv) of the good governance.
 
Moreover, a certain number of assumptions (conditions of success) that can influence the achievement of the objectives of the Convergence Plan 2 have been issued. It is among others: (i) the maintenance of the political commitment affirmed since the Yaoundé summit, (ii) the strengthening of the appropriation of the Convergence Plan by all stakeholders, (iii) the effectiveness of sustainable funding, (iv) of the alignment and the support of international partners for the implementation of the Convergence Plan and finally (v) maintenance of conditions of peace and security.
 
In the logic of the approach of the results-based management (RBM), each priority axis of intervention is available in strategic objectives, and then into operational objectives and expected results. The achievement of the strategic objectives in the long term will contribute to the realization of the vision, while the operational objectives should guide the actions that all stakeholders will lead in the short and medium term to contribute to the achievement of the strategic objectives. Performance indicators (indicators of impact and results indicators) have been formulated to measure the levels of achievement of strategic and operational objectives respectively.
 
Strategic Vision

The states of Central Africa manage sustainably and in a concerted manner their forest resources for the well-being of their populations, for the conservation of biological diversity and for the Safeguarding of the global environment.

The revision process

Given that the framework of reference of the COMIFAC is the convergence plan, it is important that all the initiatives led by the COMIFAC, including those related to climate change and the process REDD particularly, fit in the said Plan. However, it was noted that the Convergence Plan adopted in February 2005 does not explicitly these issues. To this effect, the Ministers in Libreville in May 2009 during a consultation on the impact of the economic crisis on the timber industry have taken note of the need to revise the Plan of convergence in order to adapt it to the new thematic.

Meeting in Brazzaville in the Congo in April 2010, the Council of Ministers of the COMIFAC has during the special session devoted to the balance sheet post Copenhagen reaffirmed its willingness to update the convergence plan to incorporate the priority thematic areas emerging. The Council has to this effect instructed the Executive Secretariat of the COMIFAC to mobilize the expertise and financial support necessary to lead in the long term the revision of the said convergence plan.

As a result of this instruction, the Executive Secretariat of the COMIFAC has initiated, as soon as the fourth quarter of 2010 the revision process of the Convergence Plan which is computationally to arrive at its term. This process which took place following a participatory approach, inclusive, iterative has associated with each step of its approach, the whole of the actors as well at the national level and sub-regional levels. A collective of twelve consultants to know an international consultant, a consultant under regional and ten national consultants have been to this effect recruited. Under the supervision of the Executive Secretariat supported by an ad hoc committee, consultations under regional and national have led to the result of the investigations and national workshops for the revision of the Convergence Plan required in the ten countries of the space COMIFAC, concrete proposals for emerging thematic and improvement on the substance and form of the Convergence Plan. The conclusions of these consultations, which have clearly highlighted the priorities of countries were then allowed the development of the chain of the results of the Convergence Plan revised and of the draft 0 of the Convergence Plan revised. This draft was the subject of a review by the members of the Ad Hoc Committee of supervision and subsequently a new draft has been prepared and exchanged with all national stakeholders and sub regional. The contributions of each other have led to the formulation of a draft 2 of the plan for the revised convergence which has been validated in the course of a sub-regional Forum organized in Brazzaville from 16 to 17 June 2014.

The convergence plan revolves around the main chapters:

Introduction
1. Values
2. Assumptions
3. Strategic Framework
3.1 Vision
3.2 Goal
3.3 Axs of intervention and Strategic Objectives
3.4 transverse axs
4. Implementation framework
4.1 The role and responsibility of stakeholders for the implementation of the Convergence Plan
4.2 Means of implementation (human resources, financial and logistical)
5. Mechanism of follow-up and evaluation
5.1 Roles of stakeholders in the system of follow-up and evaluation
5.1 Operation of the device in the system of follow-up and evaluation

It is important to point out that the funding of this process has been provided by the contributions of the following partners: the African Development Bank (ADB) through the program of support to the conservation of ecosystems of the Congo Basin (PACEBCo), the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through the Fund for the Forests of the Congo Basin (FFBC), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Bank through the MSP project.

Zoom on the priority axes of intervention and transverse axes

Priority Axis of Intervention 1: Harmonization of Forest and Environmental Policies

This axis has the objective to strengthen the governance public forest through, among others: (i) for the implementation of the coherence of policies and forest laws; (ii) the consolidation of the forest law enforcement; (iii) the promotion of governance and the Rationalization of trade (FLEGT); and (iv) the strengthening of the capacities of key institutions in order to promote the respect of the international and regional standards applicable in the field of trustee, social and environmental. The implementation strategy will build on the priority thematic areas:

- implementation of the agreements and international conventions;
- Implementation of consistency forest and environmental policies;
- strengthening and harmonization of policies, institutional frameworks and national laws;
- implementation of a concerted forest policy and legislation and national environmental.

 

Priority Axis of Intervention 2: management and sustainable exploitation of forest resources

It is clearly established that the forest massifs play a vital role in the safeguarding of the global environment. To this effect, the forests of Central Africa which constitute the second tropical forest area of the planet with an area estimated at 227 million hectares (FAO, 2005) have a strategic importance. These forests contain a floristic diversity and exceptional wildlife and contribute to the economies of countries and to the improvement of the livelihood of the local populations. Also, they provide environmental services overall.


Although With deforestation rates relatively low, these forests are subject to multiple threats (agro-industries, mining, infrastructure, transport, energy, conflicts, etc.) likely to jeopardize their sustainability. It is for this reason that it is important to continue the efforts to ensure the sustainable management of these ecosystems. A permanent dialog between the different national actors must be maintained to curb the environmental threats which weigh on the forests of the Congo Basin.

It is important as well through this Axis to generate the political will of the countries of the sub-region to develop and implement measures to alleviate the critical threats facing the forests of Central Africa.

On the other hand, operating methods used still generate significant losses after harvest and during the process of transformation, which increases the pressure on resources. These losses cause leakage of revenues. To this effect, it is essential to ensure the sustainability of forest resources of Central Africa, to work for a farm to low impact and a further transformation which would provide a more value to forest products from the Central Africa.

Such is the context in which is developed this axis of intervention in the management and sustainable exploitation of forest resources and whose priority thematic areas are the following:

- Forest Resources inventories: Wood - Wildlife - NTFPS /medicinal plants, genetic resources;
- strengthening and/or establishment of national observatories and regional;
- installation of the follow-up geo-spatial of forest resources;
- Under development of permanent forest estates and all other types of forests;
- Zoning and securing forest territories;
- Knowledge of economic values of forest resources;
- Economic valorisation of channels : wood, wildlife, NTFPS, tourism;
- the development, adoption and implementation of the national plans Of the industrialization of the timber industry;
- organization of craft channels and channels non-timber forest products (NTFPS);
- promotion of the contribution of NTFPS to national and local economies;
- legality and forest certification.

 

Priority Axis of Intervention 3: Conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

The Central Africa renfermeune remarkable biological diversity. Efforts have been made by the countries of Central Africa to maintain this biodiversity. However, threats to the preservation of this heritage persist. Indeed, the main engines of the deforestation and the degradation of biological diversity identified to this day are related to factors such as population growth and rapid urbanization, mining, agribusiness, forestry, the collection and production of charcoal and fuelwood, the infrastructural development (transport), etc. These factors exert more and more on increasing biodiversity and with a decisive impact on the future of the ecosystems concerned, the fact of the overlap between the different uses

this axis of intervention is based on the priority thematic areas:
- strengthening of the network of protected areas national and cross-border is representative of all of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems;
- development of protected areas ;
- Concerted management of areas and transboundary protected areas;
- ecological monitoring of biodiversity in protected areas and outside;
- exploitation of genetic resources;
- follow-up to the management and use of resources/control;
- development of ecotourism;
- fight against the illicit exploitation of forest resources, poaching and the wildlife crime;
- Valorization/protection of traditional knowledge

 

Priority Axis of Intervention 4: fight against the effects of climate change and desertification

The climate of the planet is increasingly disrupted, with the consequences both on human health and on the means of subsistence, as well as on species and ecosystems. In addition, the areas of arable agricultural land decreases in an irreversible way.

These major changes are now topical, and force is to see that today the climatic seasons are disturbed, the rainfall defies all the observations made during the last thirty years, the mists of dust are more and more visible and the temperatures are much more accentuated, etc. Similarly, there is a significant degradation of soils due to the advance of the desert.

In the face of these threats, it becomes more urgent for the international community as a whole and the COMIFAC in particular, to respond consistently and sustainable through the priority thematic areas:
- regeneration and reforestation;
- development and implementation of national strategies for adaptation to climate change;
- development and implementation of mitigation measures to climate change;
- fight against land degradation and desertification.

 

Priority Axis of Intervention 5: Socio-economic development and participation in multi-actors

The major issue for this axis of intervention is to promote at the country level a growth generator of jobs and revenue for the greatest number of people. It is to improve the contribution of the forest sector in the socio-economic development of the populations.

Similarly, the governments of the Member States and the partners at the national and sub-regional levels have opted for the participatory process in the development and implementation of the Convergence Plan. This process that will allow the associate the greater number of actors (public and private sectors, civil society, the development partners,…) is the pledge to the times of its ownership by all stakeholders and a major asset for the success of the objectives assigned to this axis of intervention.

The priority thematic areas developed around this axis of intervention are the following:
- activities alternatives to poaching;
- Micro-income-generating projects for local and indigenous people;
- participation of actors;
- involvement of local populations and indigenous peoples;

 

Priority Axis of Intervention 6: Sustainable Funding

The success of all policies and all the plans of action of forest management is conditioned by the availability of financial resources. The efforts for the funding of forest management have been made these last decades by the States of the sub-region. Also financial support have been made by the partners for the implementation of the Convergence Plan.

In spite of these efforts, important needs for the financing of the Convergence Plan remain. It is for this reason that it is appropriate to explore, put in place and operationalize the sustainable financing mechanisms for the conservation and management of forest ecosystems.

Indeed, the financing of the COMIFAC and its Plan of convergence should be ensured by a compulsory contribution of the Member States according to a principle egalitarian or in accordance with a funding mechanism indexed on a rate of the taxs applied to products imported from third countries.
In addition to the efforts of Member States, the support of the international community, the private sector, will contribute to the financing of the Convergence Plan. The strategy will build on the priority thematic areas:
- Establishment and Operationalization of the Forest Fund and national environmental;
- of innovative funding mechanisms (taxs of conversion of surfaces, debt for nature swaps etc.);
- sustainable financing mechanisms;
- bilateral and multilateral.

Transverse Axes
In addition to the priority axs of intervention, three (3) transverse axs have been defined. The transverse character of these axs is linked to the nature of the prescribed actions which contribute to the achievement of the strategic objectives of the priority axs of intervention. In effect, the operations relating to the training of managers and forest officials, strengthening the capacities of actors, applied research and finally communication and education have a transverse character. These operations are therefore necessary for the satisfactory completion of the strategic objectives of the priority axs of intervention.

The implementation of these transverse axs should also contribute to the ownership of the Convergence Plan by all stakeholders, but also and especially, would create and maintain a dialog permanant between the different actors at the national and sub-regional.

In order to contribute to the achievement of the strategic objectives sus-statements, the transverse axs are composed of operational objectives, expected results and indicators.

Transverse Axis 1: Training and Capacity Building
The vocational training suffers from a disparity between the programs of the various institutions of the sub-region, which makes it somewhat difficult to exchange between learners on the one hand, and on the other hand, professional mobility between countries. Similarly, new concepts of sustainable management are still insufficiently taken into account in the training modules.

In spite of these shortcomings, advances have been recorded in recent years in the field of training, in particular, the existence of a mapping of the training institutions of the same that guidelines sub-regional training forest and environmental.
To ensure the taking into account of new concepts or new challenges of the forest sector-environment, the lessons provided in vocational training institutions must respond directly to the request and to the needs of users that they are public or private, which is not yet the case in the sub-region. These institutions do not have also of necessary resources. In addition, very few of these institutions have developed a partnership with the private sector where the need to create or strengthen the professional centers of training in the Trades Wood and NTFPS in particular. In this perspective, the RIFFEAC organizes and federates the institutions to accompany the revision of modules in the programs of forestry training and environmental and ensure the consistency of this revision.

Transverse Axis 2: research-development

The Forest Research is the poor parent of the research in Central Africa. It is not sufficiently funded and is evolving in a dispersed manner from one country to the other, while the problems are often similar. Also, with a few exceptions, the research activities are little connected to the direct concerns of States, of enterprises in the private sector or civil society.

It is through this transverse axis to ensure that the results of research work to respond to the needs of the actors in the short, medium and long terms. Synergies must be developed between the stakeholders with a view to the exploitation of the results of the research to the development. Similarly, the research should benefit from the collaboration of partner institutions and the support of the users of its results.
It is necessary to this fact that operational partnerships are being forged, multiply and are becoming more widespread in the sub-region between the universities, the specialized agencies of research, economic operators, users of new knowledge, civil society, the development partners and the States holders of the natural heritage.

Transverse Axis 3: Communication, awareness, information and education
of many vectors of modern communications have been developed in recent years at the national and subregional levels to inform the general public on various issues. In spite of these advances, there is always a deficit of communication in the field of conservation and sustainable management of forests. This is at the origin of a sub-Information of the general public, or even a disinformation of international opinion on the realities of forest management in Central Africa.

Although the administrations in charge of forests are equipped of cells in charge of the communication, the texts governing the forest sector or any other information on the sector and the environment remain poorly, or even little or not known by the actors themselves on the field. In addition, many tools and communication media have been able to be developed by the COMIFAC in the framework of its communication strategy in order to make known the institution and inform on the performance of the implementation of the Convergence Plan. This strategy in the course of the update should allow on the one hand to the COMIFAC develop tools for marketing and popularization of the Convergence Plan, and on the other hand, to the countries to draw inspiration to develop their own strategies.

It is necessary that the efforts in the field of communication, awareness, information and education are prosecuted or strengthened. As well, each actor in the sub-region will need to develop appropriate strategies to publicize its achievements, share its experiences, strengthen the accession and the participation of stakeholders in the sustainable management of forest ecosystems.

The Triennial Operation Plan

As for the first version of the Convergence Plan (2005-2014), the Convergence Plan 2 must also be the subject of a operational declination of its axs of interventions, through the development of the plans of operations periodicals. It will formulate the main actions to conduct at the subregional level to contribute to the achievement of the expected results of the Convergence Plan 2, and thus contribute to the achievement of operational objectives and strategic objectives such as formulated in the PC 2. This operational declination should inter alia specify by types of activities, responsibilities, timelines, budgets and the conditions of success.

It will: (i) to equip the COMIFAC of a document in the plan of operations of the Convergence Plan 2 specifying for each action formulated: the responsible, the deadlines in the short and medium terms, costs of achievement required, the partners staff or potential for support and the conditions of success is proposed; (ii) to establish an assessment of the costs of the activities of the POPC; and (iii) to formulate guidelines for the development of planning frameworks/national programming for the countries do with not.

Implementation Framework

The Convergence Plan sub-regional provides strategic direction in favor of the conservation and the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in central Africa. In order to ensure the coordination of the implementation of these actions, the COMIFAC is equipped with a body of execution, the Executive Secretariat which has the mandate to ensure the coordination of the implementation of the activities of the COMIFAC and apply the decisions of the Council of Ministers.

In order to ensure the effective implementation of the Convergence Plan 2 at the national level as well as the sub-regional level, a number of stakeholders have been identified. It is particularly of the Member States of the COMIFAC represented by the administrations in charge of forests and/or of the environment, the COMIFAC, ECCAS, the organizations of the civil society, the private sector operators, organizations of the Treaty of the COMIFAC, sub-regional, regional and international organizations, etc. with the support of technical and financial partners. Similarly, of the sources of financing of the Convergence Plan have been indicated.

In addition, to promote a better anchoring of the COMIFAC and allow an appropriation of the priorities of the Plan of convergence at the national level, gateways have been established through the implementation of the National Coordinations. In effect, the Ordinary Council of Ministers of the COMIFAC gathered in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea in September 2006, had invited member countries to provide in the organizational chart of the Ministry in charge of forests, a National Coordinator of the COMIFAC (CNC), to appoint a National Coordinator placed in a hierarchical level allowing him to easily access to the Minister and to put at the disposal a budget for its operation.

Mechanism of Monitoring Evaluation

The Executive Secretariat has developed a number of tools for the monitoring of its activities and those of the partners that contribute to the implementation of the Convergence Plan. It is including a dashboard on the monitoring of the implementation of the Convergence Plan, a Gantt chart of monitoring of the activities of the annual work plans of the Executive Secretariat. The achievements resulting from the implementation of the Convergence Plan are disseminated through reports, annual and biennial reports and briefing notes on the state of progress of the activities of the COMIFAC.

In the concern to improve the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Convergence Plan, a device follow-up evaluation focused on the results is in the course of the operationalization at the COMIFAC. This system should in the long term to allow the COMIFAC and its partners: (i) put in coherence the various frameworks programmatic and operational; (ii) to improve the positive impact resulting from the implementation of the Convergence Plan on the populations of member countries, such as sought in the vision and purpose of the Convergence Plan; (iii) to measure the state of progress of the implementation of the Convergence Plan, in order that the Council of Ministers appreciate the level of implementation of policies and take decisions (Treaty, Art.9); (iv) to proceed with the periodic evaluations of the implementation of the Convergence Plan in order to better understand the reasons for successes or Of the potential failures of the implementation of the Convergence Plan; (v) to share national experiences and enhance good practices in order to improve future actions, to respond to the principle of the management based on the results (GAR); (vi) to establish bridges with other initiatives (OFAC) in order to develop synergies and to better collect the information available; and (vii) to inform to real time the stakeholders on the performance of the implementation of the Convergence Plan (countries, organizations, partners).

 

The Executive Secretariat has developed a number of tools for the monitoring of its activities and those of the partners that contribute to the implementation of the Convergence Plan. It is including a dashboard on the monitoring of the implementation of the Convergence Plan, a Gantt chart of monitoring of the activities of the annual work plans of the Executive Secretariat. The achievements resulting from the implementation of the Convergence Plan are disseminated through reports, annual and biennial reports and briefing notes on the state of progress of the activities of the COMIFAC.

In the concern to improve the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Convergence Plan, a device follow-up evaluation focused on the results is in the course of the operationalization at the COMIFAC. This system should in the long term to allow the COMIFAC and its partners: (i) put in coherence the various frameworks programmatic and operational; (ii) to improve the positive impact resulting from the implementation of the Convergence Plan on the populations of member countries, such as sought in the vision and purpose of the Convergence Plan; (iii) to measure the state of progress of the implementation of the Convergence Plan, in order that the Council of Ministers appreciate the level of implementation of policies and take decisions (Treaty, Art.9); (iv) to proceed with the periodic evaluations of the implementation of the Convergence Plan in order to better understand the reasons for successes or Of the potential failures of the implementation of the Convergence Plan; (v) to share national experiences and enhance good practices in order to improve future actions, to respond to the principle of the management based on the results (GAR); (vi) to establish bridges with other initiatives (OFAC) in order to develop synergies and to better collect the information available; and (vii) to inform to real time the stakeholders on the performance of the implementation of the Convergence Plan (countries, organizations, partners).

Operation of the device in the system of follow-up and evaluation
The mécanicisme follow-up evaluation of the COMIFAC is based on:
the monitoring of performance indicators (indicators of effects and results) such that resumed in the Convergence Plan and the chain of results and indicators;
the periodic monitoring of indicators of impact in the areas ecological, economic and social;
a pooling of efforts to improve the knowledge of the different systems of observatory of Forests of Central Africa.

This mechanism is described in the Manual of follow-up and evaluation of the COMIFAC developed in 2014, and which defines the technical procedures, functional and organizational system of follow-up and evaluation of both the national level and sub-regional levels by all stakeholders. In this manual, it is clear the following tools in the course of the operationalization:

  • A planning system of different frameworks programmatic and operational (convergence plan, plans of operations the Triennial, plans of actions biennial, annual work plans, etc.)
  • a platform (Online database) of the follow-up and evaluation of the implementation of the Convergence Plan and other sub-regional initiatives of the COMIFAC;
  • a system of data collection at the national level at the sub-regional level in link with the system OFAC;
  • a system of capitalization and the management of information with a access to data via the web portal of the COMIFAC;
  • a system for the dissemination and sharing of information.
 

Roles of stakeholders in the system of follow-up and evaluation
The main actors involved in the system of follow-up and evaluation of the Convergence Plan and their roles are the following:

  • National Representatives of the administrations and/or directions sectoral technical: Pilotage for forest programs/National Environmental, projects and initiatives, documentation of indicators and level of advancement, collection and transfer of information to the TNC and the national observatories;
  • CNC/observatories: centralisation and transmission of information, Interlocutor COMIFAC for sectoral administrations and national actors, animation of sectors and actors;
  • thematic working groups: thematic Council with the se COMIFAC, Proposal for decisions, information transfer to the SE COMIFAC;
  • ECCAS and organizations of the Treaty of the COMIFAC: collection of data, Transmission and sharing of information on the achievements of the Convergence Plan;
  • Executive Secretariat COMIFAC: recipient of information, animation of the follow-up evaluation, seizure and analysis of information for monitoring and evaluation, and sharing and dissemination in collaboration with the FOCA;
  • Council of Ministers: Pilotage and making decisions on the conservation and sustainable management;
  • Summit of Heads of State: definition of broad political lines, adjustments and policy guidelines.

To this, are added the projects, programs, initiatives and activities at the national level and sub-regional, implemented and monitored by the management units, sub-regional, regional and international organizations, partners, the private sector operators, under the coordination or the supervision of the Executive Secretariat.

Diagram of the flow of information of the COMIFAC monitoring system

 
Schéma du flux d'information du système de suivi évaluation de la COMIFAC

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