In Central Africa, countries are beginning to step-up efforts to safeguard the degrading lands and forests that are estimated to cost the region at least USD 5 billion a year in lost revenues.
A side event on the progress, challenges and opportunities was recently held at COP 10 in South Korea, organised by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) – current Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) – and the GM.
Aligning countries National Action Programmes (NAPs) to combat land degradation, with the strategic orientation of the UNCCD Ten Year Strategy was one of the key topics under discussion. The UNCCD National Focal Point from Gabon outlined recent efforts to address this issue through the development of a new sub-regional roadmap, which promises to make the NAPs more effective and up-to-date instruments.
In order to operationalize the NAPs however, the challenge remains to attract the finance to actually fund them. In this regard, the Integrated Financing Strategy (IFS) is proving to be an effective tool for identifying, accessing and mobilizing finance from a variety of sources, both at the domestic and international levels. Together with key development partners, the GM has supported the development of IFSs throughout the sub-region, with a view to facilitating increased public and private investments into sustainable land management (SLM). The UNCCD National Focal Point from Cameroon shared results and lessons-learnt through the IFS elaboration process, which culminated in the validation of the IFS earlier this year.
At the same time, there is a realisation in the sub-region that in order to increase financial resource allocations there must be increased political buy-in from governments of the socio-economic benefits generated. Compelling arguments are needed to justify why investment in SLM is so vital. In this regard, ECCAS presented a recent ECCAS/COMIFAC report, which the GM supported in the development of, on the costs of land degradation in Central Africa, which indicated that better land and forest management could save Central African countries at least USD 5 billion a year. Such analytical work, participants agreed, is crucial in making the investment case to ministries of finance and international investors.
Just as important, stressed the COMIFAC Assistant Executive Secretary, is building an institutional framework that is conducive for investment into SLM. He shared the successes and lessons-learnt of COMIFAC in improving the institutional framework, inter alia through the establishment of a COMIFAC/UNCCD working group, the inclusion of UNCCD related topics in the agenda of the CBFP and the mainstreaming of UNCCD related issues into other overarching development policies.
With some 50 participants in attendance, the side event provided an excellent opportunity to forge dialogue on the status of UNCCD implementation in Central Africa, whilst drawing some lessons for other regions.
For more information:
Mr Sven Walter, Programme Coordinator, West and Central Africa
Tel. +39 06 5459 2150
s.walter (at) global-mechanism.org