All eyes are on France as it takes over the presidency of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI). Launched three years ago to protect the Congo Basin forests and support stronger governance of its ecosystems, CAFI is facing tough criticism.
Activists accuse CAFI of promoting industrial logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo and turning a blind eye to a myriad of governance issues on the ground, including stagnating forest reform and runaway forest conversion (FW 216, FW 227).
Whether CAFI can fix these challenges remains a pertinent question. Given its historical and economic links with the region, hopes are high that France will ensure that the initiative delivers for forests and forest peoples during the adoption of the CAFI roadmap on deforestation, expected in March.
Given its leadership on climate and forests in the EU and at the global level, France is uniquely placed to ensure that CAFI does not serve only powerful public and private interests, but puts good governance first so that forests can truly contribute to climate action and stronger local livelihoods. Fern’s partners in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo ask CAFI not to tolerate ‘business as usual’, but to provide stronger impetus for land and forest reforms linked to the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreements.