On July 23, 2011, about 60 representatives of various civil society networks, government officials, international NGOs and representatives and the private sector in Cameroon gathered in the capital Yaoundé for a daylong workshop. Participants to this meeting sought consensus on how civil society organizations (CSO) should better organize for more effective participation in and contribution to Cameroon’s national REDD+ process. The workshop was convened by the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature with technical and financial support of the IUCN Pro-Poor REDD project.
The direct outcome of this workshop was the setting up of a National CSO Platform on REDD and Climate change. The new platform is conceived as a dialogue space that is going to seek recognition by the government as a legitimate and representative entity for civil society actors. It will serve its role as a platform for dialogue and collaboration on REDD+ and climate change and function as an interface between the administration and other stakeholders. The vision or this platform is to promote REDD as a tool to enhance governance and improve forest resources management. It also aims to help develop a legal framework for the socioeconomic development of all components of the society at the national, regional and local levels, and to promote climate and social justice. In anticipation of a plan of the platform to promote civil society engagement in REDD+ and climate change processes in Cameroon, the government and supporting organizations are already full of expectations.
The newly formed platform is conceived as a coordinating body with a steering committee formed by three elected platforms for a three-year term. The focus of the platform will be on:
• Ensuring the representation and visibility of CSOs during REDD+ and climate change negotiations;
• Fostering of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) during as part of REDD+ and climate change policy processes;
• Capitalizing on experiences and promoting best practices;
• Stakeholder consultation;
• Communication and awareness raising.
The coordination body will draft a charter for the functioning of the platform that will be submitted for approval by member organizations. It will also propose a REDD+ and Climate Change action plan that will be discussed with the government and development organizations for support.
The formation of this platform is a major achievement for Cameroon because there is great diversity in the approach that various organizations in the country take towards forest management and social justice issues. Some organizations consider REDD+ a tactic of developed countries to hijack the socioeconomic development of developing countries. Others sometimes engage in REDD without fully understanding all the stakes and technicalities. For both sides, there is dire need for a clear vision and understanding of what the opportunities and constraints of REDD+ are when it comes to sustainable development, enhanced forest management and, most of all, the possible role that civil society can play.
IUCN’s Pro Poor REDD project in Cameroon is playing an active role by providing support for discussions on an agenda for mobilizing the contribution of CSOs to the ongoing reform of the forest law in Cameroon. It is expected that a preliminary workshop will take place before December 2011 to discuss the principles that should underpin forest law revisions. Based on this, a process of consultations will be encouraged between civil society organizations working at the national, provincial and grassroots levels, to come up with propositions of provisions for the reformed law that will be tabled, within 2012 to the government.
For more information, contact George Akwah Neba, Project Officer, Pro-Poor REDD Project in Cameroon. firstname.lastname@example.org