Strengthening Sustainable Development in Central Africa: USFS at the COMIFAC Ministerial Session
BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI: In March 2023, representatives from ten Central African nations gathered for the 11th Ordinary Session of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) Council of Ministers. This meeting aimed to assess COMIFAC’s performance and address operational priorities for its sustainability, and on the agenda was also the formal approval and adoption of new documents to improve internal processes and procedures, which were created with the support of USFS.
The 3-day session brought together ministerial and expert representatives from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. Before the ministerial session, experts, including COMIFAC National Coordinators, government officials, sub-regional institution representatives, program heads, development and financial partners, and civil society organizations, also met.
Representatives from ten countries gathered at the COMIFAC Council of Ministers. Photo by Valerie Tchuante.
At the heart of COMIFAC’s mission lies the implementation of the Convergence Plan, which the Heads of State of Central Africa endorsed in Brazzaville in 2005. This plan serves as the global framework for priority interventions at national and sub-regional levels, aiming to achieve sustainable development goals outlined in the Yaoundé Declaration on Forests. This declaration guides the actions, activities, and funding of national and international partners in support of forest conservation.
In 2020, USFS began providing strategic institutional capacity support to COMIFAC, including efforts to strengthen organizational management, leadership training, and the adoption of administrative, financial, and organizational best practices. In 2021, various operational manuals related to human resources, operational procedures, and financial management within the institution were revised in partnership with USFS. These documents were submitted to the COMIFAC panel of experts after a technical review by COMIFAC country focal points in December 2021, and formally approved during the session. The adoption of these new procedures represents a major step for enhancing managerial practices within COMIFAC.
Following the Ministerial session, the COMIFAC management board discussed their desire for additional support in specific areas. They expressed interest in project management and fundraising, reinforcing leadership in climate negotiations, and enhancing program implementation, particularly concerning National Determined Contributions (NDC). USFS plans to keep supporting COMIFAC in advancing its organizational goals and promoting sustainable practices in the Congo Basin forests.
At the heart of COMIFAC’s mission lies the implementation of the Convergence Plan, which serves as the global framework for priority interventions at national and sub-regional levels, aiming to achieve sustainable development goals outlined in the Yaoundé Declaration on Forests. Photo courtesy of Roni Ziade.
USFS work with COMIFAC is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (USAID CARPE). USAID’s CARPE program has worked since 1995 to help protect and preserve forests and biodiversity within the region.