News | 06.12.2019
The members of the Forum and the experts responsible for assisting them had lively and constructive debates leading to the first version of the PAFC BC standards at the end of the Libreville workshop from 25 to 29 November.
Organized in the frame of the project “Implementing a Regional Approach for the Development of PAFC Certification Systems” , supported by ATIBT, with financial support from PPECF, PEFC International and technical support from TEREA, the first workshop of the PAFC Congo Basin Certification Standards Development Forum was held at the Leet-Dorian Hotel in Libreville from November 25th to 29th.
This workshop brought together representatives of the stakeholder members of the Forum for the elaboration of PAFC Congo Basin certification standards from Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, experts assisting the Forum members representatives and certain institutions such as COMIFAC. [see the list of participants here]
During five days, Forum members and experts exchanged on the requirements and appendices of working papers on the forest management and chain of custody standards put together by TEREA and an expert group. The lively, heated, sometimes passionate but constructive debates conducted to the first draft of each of the above mentioned PAFC Congo Basin certification standards.
As foreseen by the procedure of elaboration of these standards, these first draft of standards will be submitted to public consultation as of mid-December 2019 to collect and exploit the comments of the stakeholders.
At the end of the workshop, participants reaffirmed their commitment and willingness to contribute to the development of PAFC Congo Basin certification standards. [see the final press release of the workshop here]
SCOPE OF STANDARDS
The PAFC Congo Basin standards will be part of a management system and will clarify the requirements for forest management and chain of custody certification for the Congo Basin. They will serve as a reference for forest certification audits as part of the PAFC Congo Basin scheme.
These standards are intended to be applicable to management and logging operations conducted in forest concession in the Congo Basin countries of Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon and Central African Republic (RCA) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The PAFC Congo Basin standards could then be adopted by each national PAFC as his national standards.
Thus, as a first step, due to the absence of national PAFCs in CAR and DRC at the time of writing, the PAFC Congo Basin standards will only be usable in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and Gabon while waiting for PAFC initiatives to take place in CAR and DRC.
The regional PAFC Congo Basin approach will be a continuation of national initiatives and will be build taking into consideration the experiences of the last fifteen years while replacing those national initiatives. It will allow a stronger anchoring of certification in the Congo Basin, reach a larger number of operators and diversify the potential of certified operators. Also, the PAFC Congo Basin regional initiative will not simply seek to produce a tool but rather to put in place the conditions for its long-term operation. Certification in the Congo Basin, stagnant in recent years, could be revived.
The principle on which PAFC is building, in order to be internationally recognized by the PEFC, is the development of certification systems developed by the stakeholders for local operators. Consensus decision making and balanced representation of stakeholders are the pillars of PAFC.
The creation of the Congo Basin PAFC system will bring many benefits to national organizations. Indeed, the creation, management and maintenance of a single system will pool the human, technical and financial resources, offering a real scale economy. In addition, the management of the system will be centralized and administered by a single regional coordinator, to increase the efficiency of implementation of the system and to facilitate communication with national PAFCs and control bodies (Accreditation and Certification Bodies). The Certification Bodies, in addition to having a single contact, will be in charge of covering an area extended to three countries using a single certification scheme.
The craze for PAFC, confirmed by the issuance of GDF and CoC certificates in Gabon, could be boosted by the creation of the PAFC Congo Basin. Certified companies will have an openness to new markets, especially in Europe, and will be able to integrate companies whose Chain of Control is PEFC certified because of PAFC Congo Basin. The PAFC Congo Basin Certification Scheme will also provide an opportunity for already certified companies to benefit from dual certification, thereby preventing instability risks of the certification system already in place while opening up to new markets.
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