It was a welcome and a reunion. The Forest Investment Program (FIP) met in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from June 23rd to 25th, and new countries, existing countries, FIP Observers, Multilateral Development Banks, representatives from Indigenous People, the private sector, and civil society all came together to share knowledge and experiences as part of the FIP family.
The family has grown. Last month, FIP welcomed six new pilot countries into the Program - Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nepal, Ecuador, and Guatemala. Nine more countries were provided with funds for the preparation of the investment plans - Tunisia, Bangladesh, Zambia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guyana, Honduras, Rwanda, and Uganda. These countries were brought through an intensive orientation session prepared, collaboratively between the CIF AU, MDBs and existing FIP countries, which introduced the “nuts and bolts” of the FIP.
Jose Vilialdo Diaz, the FIP Focal Point from Guatemala, found the day particularly valuable: “As a representative from a new pilot country, I had a lot of expectations before arriving. Thankfully all my questions were covered."
“Learning from and listening to countries already working with FIP – their experiences really enlightened me and now I have more information I can use to develop my Investment Plan in the coming months. I’ve also been able to meet with other stakeholders. They’ve given me even more tools and information and can coach us in these processes.”
That enthusiasm reflects the eagerness and energy amongst new countries who want to move quickly towards implementation and highlights the on-going need for access to growing amounts of climate finance. The knowledge exchange session between new and existing countries along with the MDBs and the CIF AU offered the ideal opportunity to ask for guidance on next steps.
And the family has grown-up. Projects in a number of the existing FIP countries are moving forward. The diversity in languages was only outdone by the diversity of case studies from these countries. We heard from our host country DRC, from Burkina Faso, and from Indonesia – the meeting was a busy buzz of success stories, challenges managed, lessons learned, and new ideas. Emerging themes for the expanding FIP portfolio included how best to involve key local communities in the long run, effective approaches to involving the private sector, and coordination within governments.
Observers from the FIP were in attendance to ensure voices from civil society are represented. “This meeting is very important for Observers because we can collect the most relevant information and share that with other stakeholders”, said Martha Torres Marco-Ibanez, FIP Observer from Peru-based NGO Environment and Natural Resources. “It also allows Observers to really connect with the new countries.”
Observers also help ensure all bodies and institutions are learning from one another and working together to achieve maximum impact for communities. Philippe Crete, Regional Adviser for UN REDD (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said: “REDD+ is a learning experience for many countries. It’s new and innovative and the FIP is providing a lot of good lessons. That’s certainly going to be very helpful for all the new countries.”
This was echoed by Xavier Mugumya from Uganda’s Water and Environment Department: “The procedures and processes with FIP are very similar to the other programs we’re involved in such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Global Environment Facility and UN REDD. It’s important for the countries that we can report in similar manners to all the initiatives – and it means the initiatives are coordinated to help tackle our country’s challenges.”
New countries heard about the Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM) for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs.) This is a unique facility which aims to strengthen the capacity of IPLCs to participate in the FIP and other REDD+ programs at local, national and global levels.
$6 million USD has been allocated to DRC and it’s expected that money will be disbursing by the end of this year, going directly to IPs, who have welcomed the funding as Kapupu Diwa, Co-Chair of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism Technical Committee, explained: “Indigenous People help protect the forests – it’s part of their culture. When we first brought news of this grant to Indigenous People in DRC, they said it was a blessing from God.”
In addition to being a welcome and a reunion, the meeting was also a goodbye. One of the driving forces behind the DGM for DRC is leaving the World Bank and members of government, civil society, and World Bank colleagues gathered after the first day to pay tribute. Appropriately, the ceremony was a celebration of Congolese culture – a fitting end to an inspiring day in one of Africa’s most vibrant cities.
The meeting itself was closed by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Bienvenu Liyota, who said: “It has been an honor to host this meeting, which allowed new and existing countries to exchange their experiences in FIP and other relevant issues. Transformation is ongoing in the DRC and through the FIP we will contribute to the fight against global climate change.”
Transformation is at the heart of the FIP and through the knowledge exchanged, the ideas shared, and the inspiration created, we hope the meeting will lead to even more of it across all FIP countries.