U.S. Facilitation Welcome Statement

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
U.S. Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Matthew Cassetta
Washington, DC
June 5, 2013

It is an honor for the United States to lead the Congo Basin Forest Partnership for a second time and I am enthusiastic to work again on African development and conservation. I have had the great pleasure to travel widely in Central Africa and experience its natural wonders. I also have the privilege of having already met many of the central Africans leading the way on forest management in the region.

The Congo Basin Forest Partnership embodies many of the core values affirmed in President Obama's U.S. Strategy Toward sub-Saharan Africa, showcasing cooperative solutions and activities that strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; combat climate change; and promote sustainable development.

Over the next two years, the U.S. Facilitation will seek to: (1) promote clear and concerted African leadership guiding progress towards low-emissions development and sustainable management and conservation of forests and wildlife; (2) address critical threats to biodiversity and forests, such as illegal logging, unsustainable resource extraction, and wildlife trafficking; (3) increase participation in efforts to adapt to and combat climate change, including mobilizing funds from new sources, such as finance for carbon emissions reduction and sequestration via REDD+; and (4) build effective institutions, regulatory regimes, and good governance to address forests and wildlife at regional, national, and sub-national levels across central Africa, with measurably strengthened capacity and participation by women and local communities.

By serving as a platform for dialogue to promote conservation and sustainable management of forests in central Africa, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership is uniquely placed to mobilize partners to strengthen institutions and capacity at the local, national, and regional levels. By taking on critical transnational threats to biodiversity, the partnership has great potential to strengthen peace, regional security and the rule of law.

The Congo Basin Forest Partnership also plays a key economic role in sustaining the livelihoods of millions of people across the region by furthering efforts to conserve and sustainably manage the natural resources of the Congo Basin. The active participation of key stakeholders, such as women, is critically important to managing these resources. Youth, as tomorrow's leaders, must also be involved in the choices that affect their region's legacy and heritage of nature and wildlife.

Only by working together with all stakeholders in the Partnership, can we ensure critical ecosystems in Central Africa are fully understood and sustained and the people of the Congo Basin share the political, economic, and security benefits of our continued cooperation. The U.S. Facilitation stands ready to work with our partners in the region and to seek innovative, concrete progress towards these shared goals.