First International Conference on Afforestation and Reforestation Calls for Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples

Brazzaville, July 3 – The Congolese capital was the scene of a passionate call for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in international efforts for sustainable ecosystem management.

Organized under the auspices of the Network of Indigenous and Local Peoples for the Management of Central African Ecosystems (Repaleac), the first International Conference on Afforestation and Reforestation (CIAR) was marked by speeches emphasizing the crucial importance of protecting and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Mr. Parfait Dihoukamba, national coordinator of Repaleac, opened the conference by advocating for active participation of indigenous communities in reforestation initiatives. Highlighting the vital role of indigenous peoples as traditional guardians of biodiversity, Mr. Dihoukamba underscored the Republic of Congo’s ongoing commitment to promote the rights of these communities at national, regional, and international levels.

Congo, a recognized leader in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples in Central Africa, has been hosting international forums since 2006 under the leadership of President Denis Sassou-N’Guesso. These meetings have played a crucial role in the legal recognition of indigenous rights, an example cited by Mr. Dihoukamba to illustrate the positive impact of such initiatives.

In another notable speech, Mr. Joseph Itongwa Mukumo, coordinator of the platform of territorial communities of indigenous peoples’ organizations in the three border basins of the world, highlighted significant progress made in Central Africa. He emphasized recent laws recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples in Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as their increased political representation in Burundi.

The conference also announced upcoming events of great importance, including the 4th edition of the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples of Central Africa and the first Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Forests of the Three Forest Basins, scheduled for 2025 and being prepared for the 30th Conference of the Parties (COP 30) in Brazil, respectively. The CIAR itself represents a major step in realizing the environmental aspirations of the Congolese president, aligning with commitments made at recent global climate conferences.

This first International Conference on Afforestation and Reforestation in Brazzaville not only highlighted the crucial importance of ecosystem preservation but also underscored the moral and practical imperative of including indigenous peoples in these efforts. As the world turns towards sustainable solutions for natural resource management, integrating traditional knowledge and recognizing indigenous rights become essential elements in achieving these ambitious goals.

By Franck zongwe Lukama

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