3 July 2006

Cameroon: MPs Pledge to Protect Environment

MPs, June 27, indicated their resolve to be more committed on issues that border on the protection and sustainable management of environmental resources.MPs made the pledge at a solemn ceremony at the Hotel des Deputes, Yaounde, that marked the launching of the Caucus of Parliamentarians for Environmental Protection.

The outfit was born out of the two-year national reflection process, initiated in July 2004 in Yaounde.Legislature, government and non-governmental actors gave birth to the idea within the framework of a national consultation forum that held under the theme, "Legislature, Environmental Representation."

The Caucus is intended to provide a platform for dialogue to improve the performance of MPs in the discharge of their functions on environmental matters.The launching of the Caucus brought together MPs and stakeholders in the field of environmental protection.

In a speech read by the First Vice President of the National Assembly, Hon. Rose Abunaw Makia, House Speaker Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djirbil said the launching of the Caucus will generate high expectations for an improved performance of the legislature on environmental issues.

He said the Caucus is a laudable initiative, given that it is out to strengthen the relationship between MPs and the public for increased information about the environmental concerns of their electorate.

The House Speaker said the Caucus has been objective in involving and informing MPs on the diverse environmental programmes and projects in their constituencies, to broaden their information base.

He hoped that the Caucus will provide the MPs the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the people and build understanding and knowledge on the changing environmental bills that are tabled.

He lauded the Network for Environmental and Sustainable Development in Central Africa, NESDA-CA, the World Resource Institute, WRI, the Central African Regional Programme for Environment, CARPE, and the United States Agency for Development, USAID.

He said the initiative would ensure effective protection of diverse natural resources and rich biodiversity in Cameroon.

While speaking earlier as host of the ceremony, Hon. Rose Abunaw lauded NESDA for having succeeded in bringing partners to work with MPs to protect the environment that is degrading at an alarming rate.

She outlined the role of the MPs in environmental protection, claiming the Caucus is a dream that has come true.The Coordinator of NESDA-CA, Mrs. Prudence Galega, stressed the issue of environmental representation that was initiated by WRI with NGOs in 13 African countries.

She said the initiative was aimed at building a constituency of partners relevant to strengthening the capacity of legislators for effective performance on environmental matters.

"My greatest pleasure here is that key actors involved in environmental protection in Cameroon and MPs share the vision for this initiative and have not only given profound support to it, but have taken ownership of the process," she noted.

Mrs. Galega expressed joy that while the MPs opted to form a caucus for the protection of the environment after joint reflections, NGOs opted for a multi-stakeholders support group that will act as a liaison group between the legislators and other civil society actors.

Taking the floor, Dr. Martin Tchamba of the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, said the Caucus would enhance the struggle of the sustainable management of the environment and fight poverty. He equally harped on the mission of WWF and the role it plays in arresting environmental problems in Cameroon.

Dr. Chimere Diaw Cifor prescribed a lecture on "The MPs and Environmental Protection."

CARPE representative at the occasion, Antoine Eyebe, said legislators were an appropriate channel to ensure the integration of rural voices in national decisions.

He hoped that the launching of the Caucus would improve the capacity of MPs in the decision-making process for the wellbeing of the people, forest wildlife and the environment as a whole.

While revealing that CARPE has supported NESDA-CA to start initiative in DRC, he saw the platform of the Caucus in Cameroon as a model to be replicated in other Central African countries.

Hon. Abunaw, Hon. Lucas Tasi Ntang, Hon. Charly Gabriel Mbock, Hon. Ndoh Evina, Hon. Ndinda Ndinda and Hon. Norbert Mbile are the MPs spearheading the Caucus.

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