ClientEarth welcomes the recent signing of benefit sharing agreements, which establish fair sharing of benefits generated from forest harvesting with forest communities. These revenues will go towards local community projects in Gabon.
As of Monday 10th October 2016, when the last of the eight agreements was signed, all forest operators in the Ivindo Department of Gabon have committed to sharing the profits of timber harvesting with local communities affected by their activities.
As a result of these pioneering agreements, communities can use their share of revenues for local community development projects.
This is an important success both for forest communities’ social and economic development and for the implementation of forest law in Gabon.
Examples of development project proposals already put forward in some of the communities include building a rural health clinic and buying much-needed medicines.
The signing of these benefit sharing agreements – by 26 communities and eight companies – is the result of many years’ work by ClientEarth and Gabonese civil society, on developing an implementing decree on benefit sharing and a Guide on this, supporting the work of local communities in negotiating the agreements.
ClientEarth benefit sharing field officers Olivier Meye Obiang and Romeldath Emanguy N’tsaga helped support forest communities to build associations where all community members regardless of age, ethnicity or gender, could take part in forming local development plans.
Signing benefit sharing agreements in the Etakanyabé community, Gabon.
After testing during a pilot field mission, the step-by-step Technical Guide was endorsed by the Government of Gabon in May 2016.
ClientEarth field officer Romeldath Emanguy N’tsaga said:
“The Guide is of central importance. It facilitated our work with communities. It was a great help to us in explaining the benefit sharing processes to communities.”
As the Gabonese Forest Code is currently being reviewed, the signing of these benefit sharing agreements marks a significant step that may lead to a more progressive and consistent benefit sharing agreement framework.
ClientEarth in-country associate Grace Ollomo added:
“At the moment, the Guide is the most appropriate tool to implement the existing fragmented regulatory framework on benefit sharing. The results of ClientEarth’s work must be captured to inform the future Forest Code.”
Picture credit: ClientEarth field officer Romeldath Emanguy N’tsaga