Oct 312014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Federal Government of Somalia, women’s groups, youth groups, and IOM today concluded a seven-day community outreach campaign on irregular migration designed to sensitize local communities in Mogadishu to the realities of irregular migration.

At 3,300 km, Somalia is believed to have Africa’s longest coastline and every year hundreds of undocumented young Somali men and women die at sea en route to Europe. But young people continue to make the journey in search of security, jobs and education.

In response to this, Somali regional authorities with support from IOM, last week launched an awareness raising campaign targeting potential migrants with messages tailored to help them make informed decisions.

The campaign was funded by the Norwegian government and used a variety of channels including radio, TV, SMS, billboards and community outreach activities.

Over the last seven days, more than 2,800 youth in primary schools, high schools, technical institutes and universities across Mogadishu have been reached through the campaign.

Over the next six months, more young adults will be targeted in Baidoa, Galkacyo, Garowe, Bossaso, Hargeisa, Beledweyn, Kismayo and Mogadishu and the campaign hopes to eventually reach over five million potential migrants.

Speaking at a football match attended by 400 people marking the end of the launch week, Somalia’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Osman Mohamed Abdi called on Somalis to engage more proactively in saving the lives of many young people who are lost at sea. “We must join forces and keep reaching out to each other, until all of us are fully aware of the dangers of irregular migration,” he said.

Oct 312014
 

BANGUI, Central African Republic, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Being raped can result in lifelong trauma for survivors of sexual assault. Having been brutally raped in front of one’s children and fearing sexually transmitted diseases in the aftermath only adds to the psychological and physical impact of the assault. Sadly, living with such trauma is part of life for an unknown number of women in the Central African Republic, a country that descended into extreme levels of anarchy, violence and lawlessness at the end of last year.

Since July 2014, MSF has offered assistance and support to victims of rape who find their way to one of two clinics in the capital of Bangui. From July through September, 247 victims of sexual violence have received help. Most of them have been women, but girls down to the age of eight and a several men have also sought assistance and support.

They have come to the clinic even though being the victim of rape is taboo in the Central African society.

“People are ashamed to come, but when they have the possibility of free care and support, they muster up the courage and come nevertheless, says Helene Thomas, an MSF clinical psychologist at the clinic at Bangui’s General Hospital. Radio-spots played on the local radio stations have made this new offer known and sought after, in spite of the risk of being stigmatized or being left and rejected by one’s husband.

The support at the clinics ranges from tests for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, as well as psychological consultations. These provide the patients with a safe space to share their experiences and to discuss their feelings of sorrow, humiliation and fear. Helene Thomas also checks for signs of depression during the series of consultations that normally last a few months. She encourages the patients to find their inner strengths to rely on, so as to start feeling better.

No one knows how many adults and children have been raped – and continue to be raped. “I am convinced that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg”, says Helene Thomas, “there are many, many more victims out there”.

One of the women who has mustered up the courage to seek help is a 24 year-old woman from the city of Bambari. “It was the month of May. Two men from a rebel group came to my home. They asked for my husband – but he was not there, so they told me that I would have to pay”, she explains in a quiet voice while looking down at her hands. “They tore my clothes off, my children started to cry and they raped me in front of them. Now, I always feel abdominal pain”, she says. “In the beginning, I could not sleep, but now it is a bit better. My son, who is five years old, started to talk to me about what he saw, but I cannot talk to him about it – I do not want to hear his words”, she says.

Another soft-spoken woman cries quietly while she tells about her ordeal back in January when four rebels assaulted her. The children saw it all – including her passing out from the pain and waking up several hours later, in the middle of the night. She is waiting for the tests that will tell if she is now HIV-positive. “I cannot be with my husband. I feel numb”, she says and talks about the continued pain she also feels in her abdomen.

It remains a rarity in the Central African Republic that victims of rape see their perpetrators brought to justice. In some cases, the family even forces the victim to live with the rapist out of shame about what happened.

“I just recently worked with a family who had forced their 15 year-old daughter to live with the boy who had raped her. She had attempted to take her own life and was referred to us by a social worker. We tried to intervene, and explained to the family that no one should be forced to live with their rapist – but rather that rape is a crime, and that the rapist should be brought to justice”, says Helene Thomas.

As horrifying as these experiences of sexual assault are, consultations can have a positive impact. “There is almost always a change for the better”, says Sylvie Nadege Gonekra, who is a midwife at the clinic in Bangui’s General Hospital. “After a few consultations, I notice a change on most patients’ faces,” she says.

“Some of the women will remain traumatized for life – but if, for example, we can get the family to be very supportive of the victim then there is a chance. The assault will never be forgotten – but they can pull through and end up having a life without severe psychological trauma,” Helene Thomas says.

Oct 312014
 

WASHINGTON, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ten young film crews from ten different countries were chosen as winners in the Action4Climate documentary competition (http://www.connect4climate.org). Their outstanding and unique films inspire the world to take action on climate change.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/c4c.jpg

“These talented young film makers connect to their audience in emotional and powerful ways about the dangers of climate change. They have done serious, important work, which shows that climate change could result in a world that is unrecognizable today, and that we need act now to protect the planet for future generations.” Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group

The Action4Climate competition was launched in early 2014 by Connect4Climate (www.connect4climate.org), the global climate change communications program. It attracted hundreds of entries from all around the world. Italian film director and screenwriter, Bernardo Bertolucci, chaired a renowned jury of film makers tasked with choosing winning films in two age categories.

“We were amazed by the originality of the stories and the genuine concern shown by these young film makers about the effects of climate change. They described the effects of climate change from hundreds of different points of view. Selecting winners was an almost impossible task.” Bernardo Bertolucci

In the 18 -35 age category, the $15,000 top prize went to the Portuguese film maker Gonçalo Tocha with his provocative film “The Trail of a Tale”. This inspiring story revolves around a letter written in the future to society today. Dobrin Kashavelov from Bulgaria won second place cash prizes of $10,000 with “Global Warning,” a harrowing film about the catastrophic effects on survivors of last year’s typhoon Haiyan in the

Philippines. Third place $5,000 prize was awarded to American filmmaker Nathan Dappen for “Snows of the Nile”, a documentary following Nathan’s adventures uncovering indisputable evidence of the fast disappearing glaciers of Uganda’s ‘mountains of the moon’.

“I am immensely proud to be chosen as the winner and really hope my film helps people realize that we need to act now to protect our future.” Gonçalo Tocha

In the younger 14 -17 age group, “The Violin Player” took top spot. This beautifully animated film was the brainchild of Francina Ramos, a young Argentinian film maker and her co-producer/composer Benjamin Braceras. Second place went to “Facing the Flood” by Constantin Huet from Switzerland, an investigative account of the changing conditions in Greenland and the Maldives. Georgia’s Tura Tegerashivili was awarded third place for the whimsical “It’s Easy if You Try”. All prize winners receive production equipment and software to help them hone their skills and talents and inspire them to create more climate change stories.

“What an amazing honor! I am so excited. I hope The Violin Player makes people want to stand up and tackle climate change.” Francina Ramos

The jury is made up of filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Marc Forster, Mika Kaurismaki, Fernando Meirelles, Mira Nair, Bob Rafelson, Walter Salles, Pablo Trapero and Wim Wenders, along with film executives Rose Kuo and Cynthia Lopez, and World Bank Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte. They felt the standard in the competition was so high that a special prize was awarded to “Balud” by Panx Solajes from the Philippines, for his creative personal reflection devastating floods caused by climate change.

Connect4Climate also decided that two submissions should be recognized for their ability to present local stories that also have a profound global impact. Special Connect4Climate prizes are awarded to “Tinau” from UK/Kiribati producer Victoria Burns, exploring the grave concerns of small island nations such as Kiribati, and “The Change,” a touching portrayal of the effects on young people in a Vietnamese coastal community made by filmmakers Ha Uyen, Huong Tra, Quang Dung and Quang Phuc. A People’s Choice Prize voted for by the public was won by a team from Brazil for their film “Pachamama” depicting the effects of global warming in Sao Paulo.

Prizes for the competition were graciously provided by Edison, the Italian power company, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In addition, Vimeo, the video sharing website, is enthusiastically donating Vimeo Plus accounts for one year to all the finalists from developing countries.

The winners will be announced on October 30th at the Sustainia “100 Solutions” Award Ceremony in the Royal Theater, Copenhagen, celebrating the creation of new solutions for sustainable living. The general public can then see a selection of videos from winners and finalists online and on television, as well as at festivals and events.

“Connect4Climate was tremendously excited by the amount of interest shown in the competition from around the world. It demonstrates the level of concern shown by creative young people and their desire to be involved directly in exposing climate problems and finding lasting solutions. We were also gratified to experience the seamless coming together of international organizations, the private sector and civil society to support and promote the competition ” Lucia Grenna, Program Manager, Connect4Climate

It is envisaged that the high standard of the Action4Climate documentaries will help promote greater climate change awareness and inspire viewers to action.

The winning films can all be viewed at www.Action4Climate.org

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of The World Bank.

Media contacts:

Frederick L. Jones – fjones@worldbankgroup.org tel: 202 473 9336

Giulia Braga – gbraga@worldbankgroup.org tel: 202 297 2116

Francis Dobbs – fdobbs@worldbankgroup.org tel: 202 288 5861

About Connect4Climate

Connect4Climate (C4C) (http://www.connect4climate.org) is a campaign, a coalition and a community dedicated to stimulating local actions that will catalyze larger, international, multifaceted movements to deal with global warming and its impact on the planet. It works with more than 200 partner organizations around the world and is funded by the World Bank Group and the Italian Ministry of the Environment.

www.connect4climate.org

facebook.com/connect4climate

twitter.com/connect4climate

Oct 312014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The 9th edition of the African Economic Conference (http://www.afdb.org/en/aec-2014) will take place in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 1-3, 2014.

The Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank will host an online press conference during the last day of the African Economic Conference.

He will report on the conference theme of Africa’s continuing challenge to harness knowledge and innovation in the service of its economic development. He will also outline new African development bank actions and advocacy on the response to the ebola virus. In addition he will present the main findings of the ‘African Economic Outlook’, published during the African Economic Conference.

Journalists interested in attending this event will be able to ASK QUESTIONS LIVE VIA THE INTERNET.

Speaker: Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank

Date: Sunday November 2

Time: From 14:00 GMT (Time Converter: http://goo.gl/OXmKMg)

Languages: English

How it works: This service is FREE and only requires a computer connected to the internet.

REGISTER: http://www.apo-opa.com/application.php?L=E&vc=AEC

Technical Contact: +41 22 534 96 97, sec.sg@apo-opa.org

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Oct 312014
 

WASHINGTON, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jen Psaki

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

October 30, 2014

The United States is deeply concerned by the October 27 sentencing of Ethiopian journalist Temesgen Desalegn to three years in prison for “provocation and dissemination of inaccurate information.” Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elements of a democratic society, and the promotion and protection of these rights and freedoms are basic responsibilities of democratic governments.

As President Obama stated during his meeting in September with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam, it is important that Ethiopia’s progress and positive example on economic development and regional conflict resolution extends to civil society as well. We urge Ethiopia to make similar progress with regard to respect for press freedom and the free flow of ideas and reiterate our call for the Ethiopian government to release journalists imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Oct 312014
 

DAKAR, Sénégal, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) is deeply concerned about the situation in Burkina Faso, where violent incidents have occurred between security forces and demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of a bill on the revision of Article 37 of the Constitution.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, deplores the deterioration of the security situation in the capital Ouagadougou and in other cities across the country.

Mr. Ibn Chambas urges the national authorities to do their utmost to protect civilians and to favor dialogue. He calls on political and civil society actors to avoid resorting to violence.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who is scheduled to travel to Ouagadougou tomorrow, Friday 31 October, together with representatives of ECOWAS and the African Union, encourages all parties to work towards a pacific solution in the interest of the stability of Burkina Faso.

Oct 312014
 

KINSHASA, DRC, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The organizers of the Conference of Ministers of ECCAS (http://www.ceeac-eccas.org) on the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa and the structural transformation of the economy of natural resources announced today that the ministers from the region have adopted a text establishing the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/CEEAC-1.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141030ce.jpg

At the opening of the conference, the Vice Prime Minister of Defense and Veterans of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mr. Tambo Loaba, announced a $3 million contribution from his country to start the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa (FEVAC).

“Concerning the financing of FEVAC, the Democratic Republic of Congo supports its creation and commits $3 million for its establishment beginning in 2015,” said Mr. Loaba in his address.

This decision marks a first giant step toward the effective initiation of a global restructuring of the Central African economy, based on the natural resource economy and the timber industry in particular.

“Today, for the first time, Central Africa has placed the environment within the core economic structure of the countries in the region,” emphasized Dr. Honoré Tabuna, Biodiversity Valuation and Environmental Economics expert and the conference coordinator. “We are finally reaching the final stages and practical implementation of a process that began in Rio in 1992. We must now talk about the economy in order to establish a new balance of sustainable development based on a green economy in Central Africa,” he added.

Held from October 27–30 in Kinshasa, the conference brought together the Central African Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Forestry as well as several experts in green economy and the timber industry.

It was hosted by the ECCAS as part of the Program for the Management of Vulnerable Ecosystems in Central Africa (under ECOFAC), the result of a joint effort with the European Union, which provides financial support within the framework of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

“A Shift toward a Green Economy Represents a Positive Economic Turn”

Today, the timber industry serves as an example, showing the true decision makers in the countries of Central Africa that a shift toward a green economy represents a positive economic turn for the region’s economy as a whole.

The joint presence of the Ministers of Forestry and Finance of Central African countries provides a new opportunity to demonstrate that the green economy is not simply a concern for environmental experts, but also for the economists of each government.

It’s key to note that the move of major regional actors to create a new “motor” for the green economy provides support to countries combating illegal logging while also encouraging good forest governance. This important movement for the green economy, which depends on the progressive commitment of the Ministers of Finance, will bring regional changes and attract investments to help the countries working with the FLEGT and which have signed voluntary agreements with the EU.

The Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are bilateral trade agreements between the EU and a timber-exporting country. The VPA is underpinned by the development and implementation of a timber licensing scheme by the partner country. All of the lumber exported to the EU must abide by the regulations of this scheme. Moreover, each EU country is responsible for keeping unauthorized lumber out of the market.

“The objective is to give a greater voice to the Ministers of the Environment who, thus far, have received only a small share of the budget, far less than the Ministers of Commerce or Energy who benefit from revenue generated by their activities. We must show that natural resources are much more lucrative,” said Aimé Nianogo, IUCN Regional Director for West Africa.

The Timber Industry and the Impact of Market Regulation Programs

Indeed, timber- and forestry-related issues lie naturally at the heart of the implementation of the Green Economy System in Central Africa: the timber industry, which has long represented a gateway to international markets, is currently benefiting from major advances provided by market regulation programs, such as the EU Timber Regulation, but also the Lacey Act in the United States and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.

These regulations and agreements, like those of the FLEGT, open new, more reliable, and better-regulated markets, the revenues of which can be better distributed thanks to improved governance. Indeed, changing the economic system to allow for the development of the green economy requires fundamental governmental restructuring. “That is one of the major obstacles that still risks hindering the best intentions and positions of even the most sincere decision makers,” said Aimé Nianogo.

The Ministers of Forestry also had the opportunity to convince their own Ministers of Finance of the importance of paying attention to issues relating to the timber industry and its development. Clearly, these are not simply national but also regional concerns, as regional Ministers of Forestry met to discuss these issues with Ministers of Finance.

Transforming the Economic Model to Address Regional Issues

One of the major objectives for Central African countries is primarily to change an economic model that broadly relies on subsoil natural resources: minerals, oil, and gas.

These resources provide the region with significantly positive growth, at nearly 6%, but this growth does not benefit the entire population. Indeed, some regions are afflicted by a poverty rate of up to 70%.

“Our studies show that the timber industry could weigh 3% to 8% in the largest economies in the region and would generate a large number of jobs, which is a major concern for several countries in the region,” Nianogo said.

The conference provides the opportunity to vote on several projects meant to build a foundation for the green economy system to be financed by the new Fund for the Green Economy.

These projects fulfill regional objectives for the development of the natural resource economy in a framework that corresponds to the objectives and recommendations established over the past twenty years by the Rio and Rio+20 conferences. They allow for the development of local, national, regional, and international economic circuits that create job opportunities for populations that have been excluded up until now.

“The projects must be approved and distributed among the countries according to their interest in achieving the set objectives, not just according to their individual desires as a function of their capabilities and hopes of earning profits in the long term,” reminds Aimé Nianogo. “We’ll undoubtedly have to provide support for the less dynamic countries or those lacking the necessary expertise to establish solid projects so that they can also benefit from an evolution that must extend throughout the entire region.”

The text adopted at Kinshasa will be presented at the conference to be held in N’djamena, Chad, where the Heads of State will be able to express their commitment to the precise and concrete measures it contains.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Media contact:

Gildas Parfait DIAMONEKA

Communication ECOFAC V – CEEAC

Skype: gdiamoneka

Courriel: gildas_parfait@yahoo.fr

GABON Tel: (+241) 01 44 22 09

The Economic Community of Central African States (http://www.ceeac-eccas.org) is made up of ten member countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad

http://www.ceeac-eccas.org

Oct 312014
 

KINSHASA, DRC, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The organizers of the Conference of Ministers of ECCAS (http://www.ceeac-eccas.org) on the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa and the structural transformation of the economy of natural resources announced today that the ministers from the region have adopted a text establishing the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/CEEAC-1.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141030ce.jpg

At the opening of the conference, the Vice Prime Minister of Defense and Veterans of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mr. Tambo Loaba, announced a $3 million contribution from his country to start the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa (FEVAC).

“Concerning the financing of FEVAC, the Democratic Republic of Congo supports its creation and commits $3 million for its establishment beginning in 2015,” said Mr. Loaba in his address.

This decision marks a first giant step toward the effective initiation of a global restructuring of the Central African economy, based on the natural resource economy and the timber industry in particular.

“Today, for the first time, Central Africa has placed the environment within the core economic structure of the countries in the region,” emphasized Dr. Honoré Tabuna, Biodiversity Valuation and Environmental Economics expert and the conference coordinator. “We are finally reaching the final stages and practical implementation of a process that began in Rio in 1992. We must now talk about the economy in order to establish a new balance of sustainable development based on a green economy in Central Africa,” he added.

Held from October 27–30 in Kinshasa, the conference brought together the Central African Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Forestry as well as several experts in green economy and the timber industry.

It was hosted by the ECCAS as part of the Program for the Management of Vulnerable Ecosystems in Central Africa (under ECOFAC), the result of a joint effort with the European Union, which provides financial support within the framework of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

“A Shift toward a Green Economy Represents a Positive Economic Turn”

Today, the timber industry serves as an example, showing the true decision makers in the countries of Central Africa that a shift toward a green economy represents a positive economic turn for the region’s economy as a whole.

The joint presence of the Ministers of Forestry and Finance of Central African countries provides a new opportunity to demonstrate that the green economy is not simply a concern for environmental experts, but also for the economists of each government.

It’s key to note that the move of major regional actors to create a new “motor” for the green economy provides support to countries combating illegal logging while also encouraging good forest governance. This important movement for the green economy, which depends on the progressive commitment of the Ministers of Finance, will bring regional changes and attract investments to help the countries working with the FLEGT and which have signed voluntary agreements with the EU.

The Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are bilateral trade agreements between the EU and a timber-exporting country. The VPA is underpinned by the development and implementation of a timber licensing scheme by the partner country. All of the lumber exported to the EU must abide by the regulations of this scheme. Moreover, each EU country is responsible for keeping unauthorized lumber out of the market.

“The objective is to give a greater voice to the Ministers of the Environment who, thus far, have received only a small share of the budget, far less than the Ministers of Commerce or Energy who benefit from revenue generated by their activities. We must show that natural resources are much more lucrative,” said Aimé Nianogo, IUCN Regional Director for West Africa.

The Timber Industry and the Impact of Market Regulation Programs

Indeed, timber- and forestry-related issues lie naturally at the heart of the implementation of the Green Economy System in Central Africa: the timber industry, which has long represented a gateway to international markets, is currently benefiting from major advances provided by market regulation programs, such as the EU Timber Regulation, but also the Lacey Act in the United States and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.

These regulations and agreements, like those of the FLEGT, open new, more reliable, and better-regulated markets, the revenues of which can be better distributed thanks to improved governance. Indeed, changing the economic system to allow for the development of the green economy requires fundamental governmental restructuring. “That is one of the major obstacles that still risks hindering the best intentions and positions of even the most sincere decision makers,” said Aimé Nianogo.

The Ministers of Forestry also had the opportunity to convince their own Ministers of Finance of the importance of paying attention to issues relating to the timber industry and its development. Clearly, these are not simply national but also regional concerns, as regional Ministers of Forestry met to discuss these issues with Ministers of Finance.

Transforming the Economic Model to Address Regional Issues

One of the major objectives for Central African countries is primarily to change an economic model that broadly relies on subsoil natural resources: minerals, oil, and gas.

These resources provide the region with significantly positive growth, at nearly 6%, but this growth does not benefit the entire population. Indeed, some regions are afflicted by a poverty rate of up to 70%.

“Our studies show that the timber industry could weigh 3% to 8% in the largest economies in the region and would generate a large number of jobs, which is a major concern for several countries in the region,” Nianogo said.

The conference provides the opportunity to vote on several projects meant to build a foundation for the green economy system to be financed by the new Fund for the Green Economy.

These projects fulfill regional objectives for the development of the natural resource economy in a framework that corresponds to the objectives and recommendations established over the past twenty years by the Rio and Rio+20 conferences. They allow for the development of local, national, regional, and international economic circuits that create job opportunities for populations that have been excluded up until now.

“The projects must be approved and distributed among the countries according to their interest in achieving the set objectives, not just according to their individual desires as a function of their capabilities and hopes of earning profits in the long term,” reminds Aimé Nianogo. “We’ll undoubtedly have to provide support for the less dynamic countries or those lacking the necessary expertise to establish solid projects so that they can also benefit from an evolution that must extend throughout the entire region.”

The text adopted at Kinshasa will be presented at the conference to be held in N’djamena, Chad, where the Heads of State will be able to express their commitment to the precise and concrete measures it contains.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Media contact:

Gildas Parfait DIAMONEKA

Communication ECOFAC V – CEEAC

Skype: gdiamoneka

Courriel: gildas_parfait@yahoo.fr

GABON Tel: (+241) 01 44 22 09

The Economic Community of Central African States (http://www.ceeac-eccas.org) is made up of ten member countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad

http://www.ceeac-eccas.org

Oct 312014
 

KINSHASA, DRC, October 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The organizers of the Conference of Ministers of ECCAS (http://www.ceeac-eccas.org) on the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa and the structural transformation of the economy of natural resources announced today that the ministers from the region have adopted a text establishing the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/CEEAC-1.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141030ce.jpg

At the opening of the conference, the Vice Prime Minister of Defense and Veterans of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mr. Tambo Loaba, announced a $3 million contribution from his country to start the Fund for the Green Economy in Central Africa (FEVAC).

“Concerning the financing of FEVAC, the Democratic Republic of Congo supports its creation and commits $3 million for its establishment beginning in 2015,” said Mr. Loaba in his address.

This decision marks a first giant step toward the effective initiation of a global restructuring of the Central African economy, based on the natural resource economy and the timber industry in particular.

“Today, for the first time, Central Africa has placed the environment within the core economic structure of the countries in the region,” emphasized Dr. Honoré Tabuna, Biodiversity Valuation and Environmental Economics expert and the conference coordinator. “We are finally reaching the final stages and practical implementation of a process that began in Rio in 1992. We must now talk about the economy in order to establish a new balance of sustainable development based on a green economy in Central Africa,” he added.

Held from October 27–30 in Kinshasa, the conference brought together the Central African Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Forestry as well as several experts in green economy and the timber industry.

It was hosted by the ECCAS as part of the Program for the Management of Vulnerable Ecosystems in Central Africa (under ECOFAC), the result of a joint effort with the European Union, which provides financial support within the framework of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

“A Shift toward a Green Economy Represents a Positive Economic Turn”

Today, the timber industry serves as an example, showing the true decision makers in the countries of Central Africa that a shift toward a green economy represents a positive economic turn for the region’s economy as a whole.

The joint presence of the Ministers of Forestry and Finance of Central African countries provides a new opportunity to demonstrate that the green economy is not simply a concern for environmental experts, but also for the economists of each government.

It’s key to note that the move of major regional actors to create a new “motor” for the green economy provides support to countries combating illegal logging while also encouraging good forest governance. This important movement for the green economy, which depends on the progressive commitment of the Ministers of Finance, will bring regional changes and attract investments to help the countries working with the FLEGT and which have signed voluntary agreements with the EU.

The Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are bilateral trade agreements between the EU and a timber-exporting country. The VPA is underpinned by the development and implementation of a timber licensing scheme by the partner country. All of the lumber exported to the EU must abide by the regulations of this scheme. Moreover, each EU country is responsible for keeping unauthorized lumber out of the market.

“The objective is to give a greater voice to the Ministers of the Environment who, thus far, have received only a small share of the budget, far less than the Ministers of Commerce or Energy who benefit from revenue generated by their activities. We must show that natural resources are much more lucrative,” said Aimé Nianogo, IUCN Regional Director for West Africa.

The Timber Industry and the Impact of Market Regulation Programs

Indeed, timber- and forestry-related issues lie naturally at the heart of the implementation of the Green Economy System in Central Africa: the timber industry, which has long represented a gateway to international markets, is currently benefiting from major advances provided by market regulation programs, such as the EU Timber Regulation, but also the Lacey Act in the United States and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.

These regulations and agreements, like those of the FLEGT, open new, more reliable, and better-regulated markets, the revenues of which can be better distributed thanks to improved governance. Indeed, changing the economic system to allow for the development of the green economy requires fundamental governmental restructuring. “That is one of the major obstacles that still risks hindering the best intentions and positions of even the most sincere decision makers,” said Aimé Nianogo.

The Ministers of Forestry also had the opportunity to convince their own Ministers of Finance of the importance of paying attention to issues relating to the timber industry and its development. Clearly, these are not simply national but also regional concerns, as regional Ministers of Forestry met to discuss these issues with Ministers of Finance.

Transforming the Economic Model to Address Regional Issues

One of the major objectives for Central African countries is primarily to change an economic model that broadly relies on subsoil natural resources: minerals, oil, and gas.

These resources provide the region with significantly positive growth, at nearly 6%, but this growth does not benefit the entire population. Indeed, some regions are afflicted by a poverty rate of up to 70%.

“Our studies show that the timber industry could weigh 3% to 8% in the largest economies in the region and would generate a large number of jobs, which is a major concern for several countries in the region,” Nianogo said.

The conference provides the opportunity to vote on several projects meant to build a foundation for the green economy system to be financed by the new Fund for the Green Economy.

These projects fulfill regional objectives for the development of the natural resource economy in a framework that corresponds to the objectives and recommendations established over the past twenty years by the Rio and Rio+20 conferences. They allow for the development of local, national, regional, and international economic circuits that create job opportunities for populations that have been excluded up until now.

“The projects must be approved and distributed among the countries according to their interest in achieving the set objectives, not just according to their individual desires as a function of their capabilities and hopes of earning profits in the long term,” reminds Aimé Nianogo. “We’ll undoubtedly have to provide support for the less dynamic countries or those lacking the necessary expertise to establish solid projects so that they can also benefit from an evolution that must extend throughout the entire region.”

The text adopted at Kinshasa will be presented at the conference to be held in N’djamena, Chad, where the Heads of State will be able to express their commitment to the precise and concrete measures it contains.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Media contact:

Gildas Parfait DIAMONEKA

Communication ECOFAC V – CEEAC

Skype: gdiamoneka

Courriel: gildas_parfait@yahoo.fr

GABON Tel: (+241) 01 44 22 09

The Economic Community of Central African States (http://www.ceeac-eccas.org) is made up of ten member countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad

http://www.ceeac-eccas.org