Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration Treaty Signing in Kinshasa, 22nd September 2015
|Source||Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC)|
|Geographical coverage||Great Lakes Region,|
State institutions in charge of protected areas in the three countries, namely the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN).
In 1991, thanks to some key-partners’ assistance, the above mentioned institutions initiated the transboundary collaboration between the three states in order to protect more efficiently the mountain gorillas which do not need visa or permit to move freely and cross the borders in the Greater Virunga Landscape. Therefore, there is more gain than loss in conservation efforts joining especially because some conservation challenges are still there and one state cannot face them alone: poaching, deforestation, illegal trade of wood, and other illegal trades, security issue in the transboundary landscape.
The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration(GVTC) took shape and became later a strategic mechanism aimed at coordinating efforts, initiatives and actions to conserve natural resources as well as the rich and exceptional biodiversity shared by the state members in the Virunga landscape. In this regard, the GVTC Executive Secretariat was created and settled in Kigali (Rwanda) in 2008, with the special mandate of coordinating conservation efforts and implementing the five-year strategic plan of the transboundary collaboration.
Member states of the Transboundary Collaboration contributed in terms of the political and technical assistance to this intergovernmental institution and other donors, such as the American State Department/USAID; Sweden; the Kingdom of the Norway; the Kingdom of the Netherlands; brought their financial assistance to support the GVCT Executive Secretariat operation as well as the implementation of its strategic plan.
The Treaty project of the Transboundary Collaboration which is being effective today is a long process, from 2010 upto now. Teams of Experts from the three member states from the Ministries of Conservation, Environment & Tourism; Justice; Cooperation and Foreign Affairs; etc. were set up and hold regular meetings so that they could elaborate the Treaty draft that each member state shared with its legal bodies to examine and assess its content and the conditions of feasibility. At the end of 2010, the Joint Commission between the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo requested Experts to go ahead in the Treaty project elaborating and produce a draft which would be validated by the delegates of the member states. Then high consultations were hold between experts from the three countries, from 2010 to 2015, leading to two crucial meetings in March and May 2015 at Grant Legacy Hotel in Kigali where delegates of the three member states signed the final report of the consultations, after having harmonized their divergences and comments on the Treaty project of the Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC). In their recommendations, experts and heads of delegations urged the line ministers to submit, as soon as could, the Treaty project of the Transboundary Collaboration to their respective governments for analysis, ownership and signing. The three states agreed on an inter-ministers meeting leading to the Treaty signing. It is precisely during that above mentioned meeting which will be hold in Kinshasa, from the 21st to the 22nd September 2015 that the line ministers of the three member countries will sign the Treaty of the Transboundary Collaboration initiated 24 years ago!
Throughout this concentration and negotiation process, GVTC benefited from political and technical support from all the member states, the financial support from its partners especially the Kingdom of the Norway and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the technical support from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) which deserve our acknowledgments and honors, for having been supporting that intergovernmental institution which is going to be granted with a high level legal status, required in the achievement of the mission and objectives of GVTC. Of course, the Treaty will allow GVTC to implement conservation initiatives for the joint management of natural resources in the Greater Virunga Landscape, shared with the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the livelihood improvement of the populations living around the protected areas. Once the Transboundary collaboration is enhanced by the Treaty signing, GVTC will more than ever pursue its conservation mission, by implementing its Strategic plan. It is in that regard that the mountain gorillas’ census will be conducted in next October in the Greater Virunga Massif. GVTC is the institution leader in that mountain gorillas census, with the financial, technical, and scientific support from its partners.
GVTC keeps on thanking political and administrative authorities of each member countries for the support expressed about the mountain gorillas ‘census which is organized each five-years and still urges them continue facilitating the counting of mountain gorillas to allow GVTC as well as its conservation partners have reliable data which are necessary to implement the coming conservation programs, for the wellness of populations living around the protected areas and the sustainable development of the three member countries of the Transboundary collaboration.
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