Well negotiated multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) guarantee sound environmental conservation activities



1. Introduction

The African Forest Forum (AFF) in partnership with the  Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in Niger and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) are organizing a training workshop for forestry practitioners in Francophone African countries on forest related multilateral processes from 13 to 17 June 2016 in Niamey, Niger. The training course is being organised within the framework of a project implemented by AFF entitled “Strengthening Sustainable Forest Management in Africa”. One of the objectives of the project is to strengthen Africa’s participation in regional and international debates and negotiations, and implementation of international and regional forest and related agreements.

Capacity building in multilateral processes aims to contribute to development of a critical mass of competent forestry experts in Africa with capacity to first, competently represent their respective countries and the continent in international discourses; and secondly to develop national and regional structures that help domesticate implementation of forest related international agreements. Numerous international agreements have been developed to address identified environmental challenges and priorities through establishment of governance structures designed to achieve shared international environmental management and policy objectives. These have increasingly integrated social, environmental and economic objectives with the view to deliver environmental results for ‘The Future We Want’ in which governments acknowledge that good governance and the rule of law at the national and international levels as well as enabling environment are essential for sustainable development.

Studies by AFF reveal that while many African governments have signed, ratified or acceded to forest related international agreements, knowledge about these global processes remain within the groups and/or institutions actively participating in the negotiations. Africa’s contribution in the formulation and implementation of international processes has also not been effective due to limited capacity attributed to little understanding and consensus at national level on issues under international debate. Effective environmental governance requires informed and coherent policy direction, adequate normative frameworks, effective institutions and the engagement of diverse stakeholders. To this end, the African Forest Forum in partnership with ECOWAS are organising a training course in forest related multilateral processes as an important component of a capacity building program for the development of  Africa’s forestry sector.

2. Background

The development of international environmental governance, has witnessed numerous regulations relating to sustainable management of natural resources such as forests, marine living resources, and water; combating desertification; addressing land degradation, climate change and halting biodiversity loss, to mention a few. The number and diversity of forest-related international instruments, agreements, and processes is staggering and indicative of a tremendous degree of shared global concern for forests. These include United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) to which many African governments are signatories. Making progress towards goals set by the international agreements requires the management of a host of interrelated systematic relationships involving many stakeholders including the government, academicians, researchers, civil society and the private sector. However there is limited awareness and appreciation within African governments and key actors on existence of the instruments, and the countries lack a critical mass of people knowledgeable on them. This leads to poor ownership of the outcomes and low implementation of the agreements. Consequently, African governments are yet to fulfil most of their international obligations on forestry. In addition cooperation among states to address forestry issues that transcend national boundaries has been limited.

Status of implementation of international environmental agreements in Africa

The effective implementation of the agreements and the realisation of benefits require each member state to undertake appropriate policy, legislative and institutional measures in line with the provisions of the agreements. However, a recent study by AFF on compliance to international processes related to forests and climate change revealed that a limited number of African countries have taken steps to comply with international agreements. Further, the integration of the provisions of international agreements has not been systematic and the approaches have been uncoordinated. This is attributed to lack of awareness of some of the agreements which in turn affect how forestry agencies engage with upstream and downstream stakeholders. There is therefore need for enhanced efforts to increase the number of national development plans, policies and budgets that incorporate principles of environmental sustainability in general and sustainable forest management in particular. This calls for the appropriate capacity building on mainstreaming the provisions of international agreements. 

3. The goal of the training workshop

It is within this context that the AFF in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in Niger and ECOWAS are organising a training workshop on forest related multilateral processes targeting government organisations, academic and research institutes, civil society organisations and the private sector in the forestry sector. The workshop aims to provide support to the African governments to build the necessary expertise for intergovernmental dialogues, and domestication of the forest related international agreements.

4. Workshop objectives

The overall objective of the training workshop is to strengthen the capacity of African governments to effectively engage in intergovernmental dialogues, and mainstream decisions from forest related international agreements into relevant national laws, and policies for effective contribution to achievement of environmental goals and targets.

The specific objectives are to:

Sensitise and enhance awareness of the provisions of the forest related international agreements among key actors and promote the objectives of the agreements;
Build the capacity of forestry actors on the concept, theory and approaches to effective international negotiations;
Provide a forum for key actors to thoroughly examine the obligations of the agreements, exchange knowledge and experience, and identify gaps and opportunities in the legal, institutional and policy frameworks for the effective coordination and forest governance; and
Determine and recommend the appropriate measures and make necessary amendments in domestic legislation prior to mainstreaming the provisions of the international agreements into national processes, strategies, programs, and projects to enable them to fulfill their obligations.

5. Expected results and outcomes

Enhanced understanding among key actors at the national level, of provisions of the key forest related international agreements and implications for existing national policies, laws and institutional arrangements;
Strengthened capacity of stakeholders for effective negotiations, ratification and implementation of the forest related international agreements, and achievement of their benefits, and
Developed national and regional structures that help adapt, domesticate, monitor and report on progress of implementation of forest related international agreements.

6. The Workshop Participants

The workshop will bring together nominated African forestry practitioners from Francophone countries including government officials, forest managers, representatives of research and academic institutions, civil society organisations and the private sector involved in forest governance and management at decision making and implementation levels.

7. Venue

The training workshop will be held in Niamey, Niger

For further information on the training workshop contact:

1. African Forest Forum

Dr. Doris Mutta

Senior Programme Officer

African Forest Forum

Email: d.mutta@cgiar.org

2. Ministère de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable, République du Niger

Mr. Ibro Adamou

Directeur Général Adjoint des Eaux et Forêts

Email: ibroadamou@yahoo.fr  

3. Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)

Mr. Moussa Leko

Principal Program Officer-Forestry

Head of Forestry Division

Environment Directorate

ECOWAS Commission, 101 Yakubu Gowon Crescent,

Abuja, Nigeria          

Email: dallou2009@gmail.com