This best practice showcases how Cameroon’s efforts to harmonize biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreement’s (MEAs) led to the creation of targets in the country’s revised National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP) that recognize illegal commercial trade of wildlife and plant species as a pressure on biodiversity. The Cameroon NBSAP 2014-2020 calls for several actions that promote synergy and collaboration. These include species conversation, increased knowledge of wild species that can be valorized and marketed, adoption of an ecosystem management approach and the establishment of a dialogue platform that will bring together National Environmental Focal Points (NFPs) of key MEAs, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
The major biodiversity-related Conventions include the Rio Conventions comprising United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and CBD; CMS; CITES; Ramsar Convention, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (WHC), and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
NBSAPs are an important tool for the implementation of this cluster of conventions. There is a wide range of benefits to strategically and coherently implementing them together. Key benefits include joint programming, improved access to and sharing of data and knowledge, joint and strengthened national positions on biodiversity issues, more efficient preparation of national reports, cost and resource savings and shared access to funding sources. To ensure coherence and mutually supportive implementation of the biodiversity-related conventions, Cameroon’s NBSAP revision team adopted a highly inclusive stakeholder consultation process during the revision process. It included targeted consultations to design the NBSAP priorities with the NFPs of other biodiversity-related conventions.
Located in Western Central Africa, Cameroon shares borders with Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Chad, in addition to a 250 mile coastline along the Bight of Biafra. Cameroon’s 23. million inhabitants represent a wide range of ethnic groups and languages. More than 50% of the population lives in urban areas.
Cameroon has 13 national parks representing a multitude of climates and landscapes. Cameroon is often called “Africa in miniature” because its diverse landscapes include coastal areas, mountains, deserts, savannas and rainforests. Cameroon’s beautiful and varied landscapes are home to more than 900 bird and 300 mammal species. More than 630 of Cameroon’s species are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List, of which 183 are classified as endangered and 115 as critically endangered. Cameroon is home to four subspecies of great apes. Other species of global conservation concern include forest and savanna elephants, the Preuss’s monkey and the African golden cat. Scientists estimate that fewer than 15,000 forest elephants exist in Cameroon, only a small number of which occur inside protected areas.
Illegal hunting and related illegal trade are the most immediate threats to many wildlife populations in Cameroon. Although national laws prohibit the killing of these animals, the enforcement of the laws has historically been very weak and provided no deterrent value. Consequently the hunting of flagship species such as great apes and elephants, and the trade of their meat, body parts and live young are conducted quite freely (https://goo.gl/IASuZC). The indirect impact of extractive industries in Central African forests also presents a serious threat. Extractive industries, including logging, mining, and oil exploration, directly threaten Cameroon’s wildlife by destroying or degrading habitat, and indirectly by providing road access to poachers and by attracting new human settlements.
The action taken:
Cameroon finalized its NBSAP in March 2014, and it will be implemented through 2020. The Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED) is the national focal institution for the CBD, CMS and CITES and is the coordinating national institution for biodiversity. MINEPDED led the revision process of the NBSAP under the technical guidance of the Biodiversity Inter-Ministerial Advisory Committee. A mandate from the Minister of Environment’s coordination resulted in its creation. Major steps in the NBSAP revision process included preparatory work by the Advisory Committee, consultation with sector ministries, public regional and national consultations and task team validation meetings.
In specific compliance with Decision X/2 para of the COP-CBD which calls for synergy of action amongst biodiversity related conventions in a manner consistent with their respective mandates and Decision XI/6 COP-CBD to incorporate the objectives of biodiversity related Conventions, a special process targeted at involving CITES and CMS NFPs was engaged. Capitalizing on the UNEP-WCMC capacity building workshop (Francophone Africa Capacity Building Workshop on Indicators and Integration of CMS and CITES objectives as part of NBSAP updating 25-28 June 2013, Cameroon) for the integration of CMS and CITES objectives in the updating of NBSAPs, several consultation sessions were organized with these key actors. Data collected during these sessions were invaluable in the process. As an outcome, the NBSAP recognizes illegal commercial trade in wildlife species and commercial trade in specific or limited plant species as a cause of pressure.
Creating synergies depends
on effective communication and stakeholder engagement across key sectors, including planning departments and civil society. Making decision-makers aware of progress can help conservation become more of a political priority. Strengthening the institutional arrangements for cooperation among NFPs and other key stakeholders engaged in the implementation of the biodiversity-related conventions is beneficial. However, coordination should be a means to an end and not the end.
Informal communication between NFPs can be strengthened by initiating personal contact through social events, raising awareness of the benefits of cooperation among staff, and sharing information so that other NFPs are informed about relevant developments. Assessments of the needs to strengthen or establish formal coordination mechanisms should take place on a regular basis. When creating national or regional platforms, networks or other bodies that bridge science and policy, it is important to conduct a comprehensive assessment of different options available regarding structure, composition, governance, host, key task and responsibilities, funding and status.
The NBSAP revision and implementation process can be used to strengthen cooperation, especially when the process builds upon existing structures and NFP cooperation is an integral part of it. If a review of how these mechanisms function does not take place in the NBSAP revision process, this step can be included as an NBSAP target or action. Moreover, integrating the targets, objectives and activities of the other biodiversity-related conventions (other than CBD) into NBSAPs can attract additional funding. Increased collaboration among the NFPs of the conservation-related MEAs, and among relevant ministerial departments and agencies, should become part of a wider strategy to mainstream biodiversity-related convention goals and NBSAP.
Cameron’s NBSAP 2014-2020 recognizes illegal commercial trade in wildlife and plant species as a cause of pressure. Several national NBSAP targets include conservation and sustainable use measures for wildlife species. For example, Target Two and Target Twelve set goals for increased knowledge on the value of species, including wild species that can be valorized and marketed. Target Eight is focused on species conservation. The NBSAP recognizes the importance of an ecosystem management approach that favors wetland protections. It also includes a freshwater ecosystem target that calls for coherence with the management principles of the Ramsar Convention. To enhance future collaboration, Target 17 calls for the establishment of a dialogue platform that brings together NFPs of CBD, the Ramsar Convention, CITES and CMS to promote synergy and collaboration in the activities.