Women Climate Leaders: WICA Fellows Celebrate Greenhouse Gas Accounting Degrees

by Rinyu Mclaura Bekwake

For over a decade, the US Forest Service (USFS) has supported Congo Basin countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a way to improve livelihoods and contribute to stabilizing the global climate. Building on this work, the Central Africa Women’s Initiative for Climate Action (WICA) was launched in January 2021. The objective of WICA is to help strengthen the capacities and involvement of women of Central African countries in national climate change processes. The program works in close collaboration with national, regional, and international partners through webinars, workshops, a rigorous diploma program on greenhouse gas accounting, mentorships, internships, and participation at national and international climate conferences. The program has expanded across the region to include women from Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo (ROC).

In September 2023, a graduation ceremony was held for another successful group of fellows in Brazzaville. In attendance were Arlette Soudan Nonault, the Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and the Congo Basin, and Eugene Young, the US ambassador to the Republic of Congo, as well as other leading climate actors in the region. The highlight of the day was the diploma ceremony, during which nine fellows were awarded diplomas in Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) from the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

WICA fellows pose with Arlette Soudan Nonault, the Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and the Congo Basin (5th from left), and Eugene Young (7th from left), the US ambassador to the Republic of Congo. Photo courtesy of Ouad Sept Design.

The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute diploma program is a six-month program that teaches skills in accounting for greenhouse gas emission and removal, international standards and norms for greenhouse gas reporting, and quality control and quality assurance of greenhouse gas reports for validation. Using the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other international standards, the diploma program also introduced fellows to the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU), energy, waste, and industrial processes and product use (IPPU) sections of greenhouse gas inventory reports.

Alongside the diploma program, fellows also interned in climate change and sustainable management institutions like the Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin, the Ministry of Industries and the Promotion of the Private Sector, and the Research Center for the Sustainability and Productivity of Industrial Plantations (CRDPI). These internships were opportunities to gain valuable work experience and be mentored by experts in the field.

Gwladys Malanda (center) with her new diploma. Photo courtesy of Ouad Sept Design.

The closing ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the fellows as well as a time to help them look towards the future. Gwladys Malanda, one of the graduates, is full of anticipation for her future. “I look forward to working with international organizations in my country to implement projects that reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and enhance carbon sinks,” she said.

Martine Marie Berndia Wando also sees a future for herself as a national expert. “With the knowledge and skills I acquired during the WICA program, I will be bringing added value to the forestry sector in my country’s sustainable management efforts.”

Martine Marie Berndia Wando (center), sees a future for herself as a national climate expert. Photo courtesy of Ouad Sept Design.

Two of the graduating fellows have already been nominated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Rooster of Experts, a unique opportunity that will put their degrees to work. Others will go on to work with national ministries, research institutes, and local and international NGOs.

WICA is supported by SilvaCarbon, an interagency technical cooperation of the US Government working to enhance the capacity of selected tropical countries to measure, monitor, and report carbon in their forests and other lands. The training of WICA fellows as climate experts in the Congo basin strengthens national and regional efforts to tackle global climate change and the preservation of forest landscapes through efficient monitoring systems to support land management decisions.

APPLY FOR WICA

USFS has launched a call for applicants for a fourth cohort of WICA fellows in Cameroon, DRC, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo, and will be accepting applications until the 20th of December, 2023.

The call for applicants is available here.

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