News  |  15.10.2021

A look back at the "Tropical Timber" diplomatic mission to Paris, led by the Ministers of Forestry of Cameroon and Congo as well as by COMIFAC

Throughout the week of 4-8 October, the ATIBT accompanied a delegation of forestry authorities from these two COMIFAC member countries in order to make the environmental and social case for SOLIDEO to reverse its decision to exclude tropical timber from the Olympic works and to promote certified tropical timber. Meetings were held at the Paris City Hall and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

The meeting at the Paris City Hall

Mr Jules Doret Ndongo, Cameroonian Minister of Forests and Wildlife and President of COMIFAC, and Ms Rosalie Matondo, Minister of Forest Economy of the Republic of Congo, together with COMIFAC Executive Secretary Mr Hervé Maidou, held a number of meetings.

Accompanied by the president of the ATIBT, Mr Olman Serrano, they met with the cabinet of the Mayor of Paris as well as the cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to highlight the value of tropical timber on European markets.
HE Rosalie Matondo and Mr Olman Serrano

At the Paris City Hall, the two delegations were able to discuss the SOLIDEO dossier (ban on tropical timber on the Olympic site), which was the main reason for this mobilisation. The City Council said that it was not in a position to decide unilaterally on a change in the specifications for environmental excellence, but did not close the door to a discussion within the SOLIDEO board of directors.

During the mission, the ministerial delegation and COMIFAC also met with Pierre-Henri Guignard, Special Envoy for the Alliance for the Preservation of Tropical Forests and Wetlands at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), as well as with the MEAE's Climate and Environment Directorate team. As a reminder, the Alliance currently brings together 32 countries on 5 continents and has a founding Charter recalling its main missions and objectives in favour of the preservation of tropical forests. The Alliance and COMIFAC are converging alongside the ATIBT towards the same objective: to continue the fight for the recognition of this 2nd global green lung and the ecosystem services it provides through the implementation of various solutions to limit the increasing threats.

HE Jules Doret Ndongo

Moreover, after having made commitments to fight deforestation in the framework of the Amsterdam and New York declarations as early as 2015, let us recall that France published its National Strategy to Fight against Imported Deforestation (SNDI) in November 2018. As the result of the collaboration of five ministries, the SNDI aims to end deforestation caused by French imports of unsustainable forest or agricultural products by 2030.
Representing 10% of France's GDP, public purchasers are at the centre of the scheme. Indeed, by their choices to limit imported deforestation through their purchases, buyers contribute to the exemplary nature of public services and encourage economic actors to turn to more responsible supply models.
In November 2020, in line with its commitments, France published its "advice and good practice Guide for public procurement actors". In the field of timber and timber products, the Guide explicitly recognises the guarantees provided by the EUTR (timber origin, due diligence, FLEGT licence) and the certification systems (FSC and PEFC in particular).

These exchanges concluded with a press briefing at the end of the week, which summarised the main issues at stake in this diplomatic mission and in an informed promotion of certified tropical timber. This final discussion led to the drafting of press releases that will be distributed throughout Europe, less than a month before the COP26 in Glasgow.