Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes and first Council Meeting for the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP)
5-9 September 2005 | Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
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12 September 2005

Highlights from Monday, 5 September 2005

The first Intergovernmental Meeting for Great Apes (1st IGM) convened today in Kinshasa with an opening ceremony hosted by M. Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi on behalf of Joseph Kabila (President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)). More than 300 participants attended, from 16 of the 23 Great Apes Range States, several donor countries, intergovernmental organizations, more than 40 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), members of the private sector and the press.

In the opening session, panel members representing the GRASP Secretariat, UNEP, UNESCO and the DRC, warned against this becoming a bureaucratic meeting, urging delegates to agree on concrete actions and to adopt the draft GRASP strategy and a draft Kinshasa Declaration.  

Samy Mankoto, Secretary General of the 1st IGM




 


 
 
Natarajan Ishwaran, Director of the UNESCO Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences and Secretary of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) called GRASP a unique alliance between UNEP, UNESCO, the Range States, NGOs and government partners joined to promote and strengthen Great Apes conservation
 
DRC Vice-President Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, speaking on behalf of President Kabila





 
 

Samy Mankoto, Secretary General of 1st IGM, stressed the enormity of the challenge faced in ensuring the survival of the Great Apes. Dr Richard Leakey, GRASP Patron, said the 1st IGM was addressing the future of man’s family, highlighting the nature of man’s relationship with the Great Apes and saying man should have been classified as the 6th Great Ape. He said the greatest pressure for the survival of the Great Apes is the loss of habitat caused by climate change, highlighting also the similar pressure being placed on the people living around the great ape habitats, stressing the urgent need for unifying policy to address these issues. While recognizing the existence of the political goodwill to achieve this, he stressed the limitation of the range states’ financial resources and suggested the Great Apes conservation projects be considered as part of the solution for poverty.

     
Richard E. Leakey, conservationist, speaks with Veerle Vanderweerd of UNEP
 
 
A. Adjei-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry & Mines of Uganda (left) and Mike Adu-Nsiah of the Ghana Wildlife Division (Forestry Commission)
     

Speaking on behalf of Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, Veerle Vandeweerd, UNEP, noted the launch of the World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation on 1st September and hoped that this initiative, together with the the 1st IGM would convince other major players to join the GRASP partnership and bring the decline of the Great Apes to an end. She emphasized, inter alia, the promotion of high-level national and international dialogue; the facilitation of cooperation and technical support among stakeholders; awareness raising about the threats facing the Great Apes; and the soliciting of new and additional funding.

Natarajan Ishwaran, UNESCO, called GRASP a unique alliance between UNEP, UNESCO, the Range States, NGOs and government partners, joined to promote and strengthen Great Apes conservation. He outlined UNESCO’s initiatives in species conservation through its biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites, highlighting the setting aside of funds for research grants through its MAB Young Scientists Research Grants Scheme for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). He said UNESCO looks forward to greater operational success as a result of this meeting.

Aselme Enerunga, DRC Minister of Environment, Conservation, Water and Forests pointed out that the DRC is home to 3 of the 4 Great Ape species and six of the sub-species and that this meeting is being held out of concern that human unsustainable use of biodiversity threatens their survival. He called for permanent recommendations and the adoption of a Kinshasa Declaration, which will only be effective if common actions are based on accepted standards.

Natarajan Ishwaran, UNESCO, called GRASP a unique alliance between UNEP, UNESCO, the Range States, NGOs and government partners, joined to promote and strengthen Great Apes conservation. He outlined UNESCO’s initiatives in species conservation through its biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites, highlighting the setting aside of funds for research grants through its MAB Young Scientists Research Grants Scheme for LDCs. He said UNESCO looks forward to greater operational success as a result of this meeting.

Aselme Enerunga, DRC Minister of Environment, Conservation, Water and Forests pointed out that the DRC is home to 3 of the 4 Great Ape species and six of the sub-species and that this meeting is being held out of concern that human unsustainable use of biodiversity threatens their survival. He called for permanent recommendations and the adoption of a Kinshasa Declaration, which will only be effective if common actions are based on accepted standards.

AbdoulayeYerodia Ndombasi, DRC Vice President, highlighted the DRC’s great ape strategy and action plan established in 2005, confirming his country’s commitment to protection of the great apes. He concluded by declaring the Intergovernmental Conference officially open.

     
Ian Redmond, Chief Consultant for GRASP


 
 
Ashley Leiman, Director of The Orangutan Foundation, speaking on behalf of the 17 NGOs present at the meeting who have been accepted as GRASP Category E Partners
 
Praveen Moman, from Volcanoes Safaris (http://www.volcanoessafaris.com) speaking as a representative of the private sector
     
 

Participants discuss during the lunch break

 

In the afternoon, the IGM met in plenary, chaired by Prof. Dieudonné Mosibono, DRC. Opening the session, GRASP Secretary General, Samy Mankoto, said a working group, chaired by Eric Blencowe, (UK-DEFRA), would be set up tomorrow to finalize the draft Kinshasa Declaration for adoption on Friday. Chair Mosibono echoed Dr Richard Leakey’s words, emphasizing that the plight of the Great Apes is a warning sign that needs to be taken seriously, since when one part of our ecosystem is under threat, the whole is in danger. He urged concrete action and invited delegates to make statements to the session. Range States outlined their national and regional strategies, underscoring their awareness of the danger of extinction of the Great Apes. They supported the strengthening of these initiatives through the GRASP and highlighted the importance of collective action. Many emphasized that solutions should take into account poverty alleviation in the communities living alongside the Great Apes, others emphasized the need for improved law enforcement and capacity building. The Central African Forest Commission underscored their role in working towards the conservation and sustainable management of the forest systems and called for a harmonizing framework. Donor States, including Belgium, the UK, US and Japan, also welcomed the GRASP initiative and indicated their awareness of the urgency of the plight of the Great Apes. They outlined their funding activities, with the European Union's pledge of 2.4million Euros earmarked for the GRASP initiative being greeted by applause. CITES, representing the multilateral biodiversity conventions, urged the GRAP Partnership to draw on its Secretariat’s vast experience and law enforcement networks.

The Lusaka Agreement Working Group welcomed the GRASP initiative, saying this is an opportunity to create a regional cooperative approach, strengthening legislation and taking into account the transboundary nature of the traffic in Great Apes.

In a joint statement, a consortium of 17 NGOs, urged the GRASP partnership to capitalize on the international and multi-sectoral nature of GRASP to mobilize new resources and urged result-oriented action to avoid the indicators of our own state of danger. Volcanoes Safaris, a private sector organization, underscored that conservation and development can be mutually reinforcing and that conservation efforts can be a source of development resources, and said the future of Africa lies in private sector sustainable development.

Chair Mosibono summarized the statements and again urged concrete action. He said statements would continue the next day and declared the meeting closed.

 
John M. Sellar, Senior Enforcement Officer, Legislation and Compliance Unit of CITES
 
 
Michel van den Bossche of the EuropeAid Co-Operation Office of the European Commission
 
 
Noriaki Sakaguchi, Assistant Director, Wildlife Division, Nature Conservation Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Environment 
 
Venance K. Tieha of Cote d'Ivoire

 
 
Matthew V. Cassetta, Regional Attaché for the Environment from the US Embassy in Gabon
 
Soki Kuedikuenda, National Director of Natural Resources in Angola
 
 
Jovino Akaki Ayumu, Minister for State for Tourism wildlife and Antiquities from Uganda
 
 
Professor Samedi of the Directorat General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forestry in Indonesia
 

Lilian Pintea, Director of Conservation Science for the Africa Programs at the Jane Goodall Institute visits with Cristophe Boesch, President of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation
 

 

Delegates during the poolside reception at lunch time

 
 
 
Daily web coverage: 5 September - 6 September - 7 September - 8 September - 9 September
 
Relevant Links

Information and documents for the meeting
GRASP Newsletter: Published by UNEP and UNESCO, this newsletter provides up to date information on great ape species conservation
World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation: The UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) has recently published a report providing a comprehensive review of great apes, including a description of their ecology, distribution and key threats that each great ape species faces. The Atlas includes an assessment of the current status of great ape species in each of the countries where they are found, together with an overview of current conservation action and priorities, illustrated with maps: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/resources/publications/WorldAtlases.htm
CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is endeavoring to combat illegal international trade in apes for human consumption as bushmeat or to be kept live by private individuals, zoos and entertainment businesses. For more information, see: http://www.cites.org/eng/com/SC/53/E53-18.pdf and http:/www.cites.org/eng/com/SC/53/sum/E53-ExSum06.pdf 
CBD: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is involved in the debate on the effects of the bushmeat trade on biodiversity resources and is working on a cross-cutting international initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition. For more information, see: http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meetings/sbstta/sbstta-10/official/sbstta-10-13-en.pdf and http://www.biodiv.org/recommendations/?id=10689&m=SBSTTA-10
CMS: The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) is concentrating on the eastern species of gorilla, which crosses the mountainous border areas between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo - more information
FAO: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is increasingly concerned with the issue of bushmeat and the conciliation of food security and biodiversity conservation in Africa - more information
IUCN: IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species includes information on great apes threatened with extinction - more information


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