19 Jan 2017

Improved collaboration to conserve forests, biodiversity in West Africa

Participants of the donor roundtable © J. Fuhnwi
Participants of the donor roundtable © J. Fuhnwi
By Jude Fuhnwi

More than 40 participants representing 34 donor organizations, private sector companies, executing agencies and civil society organisations have agreed to work together and develop the capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) involved in biodiversity conservation and environmental management within the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot.

During a biodiversity conservation donor roundtable on 12 -13 January 2017 in Accra, Ghana, conservation experts agreed to collaborate more closely to address key challenges facing grant making in the hotspot, by engaging more with local CSOs operating in the region. The two-day meeting was organised by BirdLife International, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF) Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Guinean Forests of West Africa, in collaboration with the USAID - West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABiCC).

The main objective of the roundtable was to establish a clear understanding of who the main stakeholders are, what they are supporting and where they are present within the hotspot, as well as to identify areas of synergy and establish a platform of collaboration for mutual benefit. “As a partnership itself, CEPF strongly believes that it is necessary to work together with others to address the environmental problems facing our planet,” said Jack Tordoff, CEPF Managing Director.

Participants, through brief presentations, laid out practical plans for the hotspot, informed by current trends and future prospects based on their perceptions about working together to improve the capacities of CSOs in the hotspot. “I was very happy to see the spirit of collaboration espoused by participants, and, most of all, that we were able to agree on tangible opportunities to work together and improve synergies between our respective programs. I hope that this leads to improved delivery of support to civil society organizations, private sector actors and others involved in conservation of forests and biodiversity in the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot,” explained Mr Tordoff.

Working sessions © J. Fuhnwi

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The representatives of the different organizations outlined their perceptions about short and long term approaches to capacity development of CSOs in the hotspot. “Informed by the similarities and differences between the prevailing threats to ecosystems and CSO capacity problems identified in various countries in the sub-region, we discussed and crystalized actions for the agreed-upon approaches for capacity development,” said Tommy Garnett, Team Leader of the CEPF RIT for Guinean Forests of West Africa.

Participants in the meeting were mainly from organisations supporting conservation work in the West and Central Africa region, and came from at least 11 countries including Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Switzerland, USA, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Kenya and France. The meeting ended on a high positive note, with the RIT taking on the responsibility of coordinating all of the necessary follow up actions regarding compilation and circulation of information about the various donors active in the region, their planned actions for capacity development of CSOs in the region and geographic areas of focus.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.