USFS Launches Central Africa Women’s Initiative for Climate Action

In January 2021, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs launched the Central Africa Women’s Initiative for Climate Action (WICA), a year-long program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Climate Fellow’s Program, designed to increase the participation of early-career women in central Africa – Cameroon, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo – in their national climate change processes. The initiative is a training program focusing on national processes to measure and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions/removals to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) providing both knowledge and experience to promising women early in their career.

Participants and speakers during the opening remarks of the workshop in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

After a rigorous selection period, 103 women from central Africa were chosen to participate in the program. National workshops were held in Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Libreville, Yaoundé, where participants learned about the basics of climate change, greenhouse gas accounting, the social and economic impacts of the climate crisis, climate finance and national and international climate policy. They learned from local and international experts, exchanged with each other, and heard from national government ministries and U.S. Embassy representatives about the vital and urgent nature of this work. Regional webinars targeting specific greenhouse gas sectors followed these workshops to further specific expertise in different sector streams, which are currently ongoing.

From the 103 participants, five women from each country were selected to participate in an intensive training program to complete a diploma course in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) through the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, the most rigorous diploma program they offer.

Madhy Petronique POBA SUKI from Gabon was one of the twenty women selected to participate in an intensive training program through the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

June 2021 marked the kickoff of this diploma program. Faculty are focusing on strengthening experts’ understanding of and engagement in organizational, project-level, and national MRV. The objective is to provide training and applied learning to improve expert capacity to compile and report domestic and international greenhouse gases under a myriad of carbon accounting frameworks (e.g. ETF, NDC, REDD+). Coinciding with completion of this diploma course the twenty women will also complete internships with select government and technical partner organizations to ensure professional experience as part of this program.

Participants from Cameroon pose for a group photo after the workshop.

For Joidie BILONDA MUKENDI, a biologist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the experience opened her eyes to the far-reaching effects of climate change. “The point that impressed me the most was the understanding that the problem of climate change does not only affect the environmental sector but has implications for all aspects of our society.”

Her colleague Valentine HAMULI WIVINE agrees. “Every day climate change is becoming a more pressing concern for policymakers and economic decision-makers, yet funding climate-related projects is difficult because these projects are very complex and require extremely specialized expertise.”

Both women have been selected to continue their training with the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

Meet all of our WICA fellows here.

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