Environment, forests, and biodiversity conservation

Environnement, forêts et conservation de la biodiversité


West African agriculture is an essential component of the regional economy due to its contribution to wealth creation, export revenues, employment, and meeting people’s food and nutritional needs. Unfortunately, it is practiced in a context of significant forest degradation, coupled with an alarming biodiversity loss, desertification, ongoing pollution, and growing impacts of climate change in recent years. Human-induced pressures (extensive and itinerant agriculture, illegal logging and trafficking of timber, timber products, and protected wildlife species, wood-fuel supply for domestic energy, and overexploitation of non-timber forest products) are the main drivers behind this situation.

This theme is of paramount importance for the region as it demonstrates how environmental governance, with a focus on forests and biodiversity conservation, contributes to (i) strengthening community resilience, (ii) renewing livestock biomass potential, and (iii) improving soil carbon levels and mitigating them in the context of different agroecological zones in West Africa.

In response to the ever-increasing challenges in the sector, the ECOWAS Commission has developed several instruments and mechanisms, including the ECOWAS Environmental Policy adopted in 2008 and the Convergence Plan for the Sustainable Use and Management of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa adopted in 2013. In addition, ongoing initiatives are being conducted collaboratively and in partnership within member States and at the regional level, with the contribution of various technical and financial partners in the region. Examples include: (i) the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (WABILED) funded by USAID, (ii) the Fouta Djallon Massif Program implemented in partnership with ECOWAS, (iii) the regional status of environmental and climate report project implemented by ECOWAS, (iv) the regional environmental and social assessment regulation project implemented by ECOWAS, (v) the update of the characterization of the dynamics of landscapes in West Africa and Chad (LuLc) project implemented by CILSS, (vi) the forests for people and climate global transformation project funded by Sweden and implemented by FAO with a focus on West Africa, (vii) the support program for biodiversity and fragile ecosystems preservation, governance, and climate change in West Africa (PAPBIO) and the support program for forest ecosystems preservation in West Africa (PAPFor), both funded by the European Union.

All these initiatives contribute to strategic axes 1, 2, and 4 of the ECOWAP strategic orientation framework. In order to improve coordination of all initiatives related to the management of forest and environmental reserves in the region, the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions, in partnership with CILSS, strongly encourage collaborative work and synergies among stakeholders. This concern, which takes into account sustainability, also focuses on strengthening partnerships between national, regional, and international institutions working on these issues, as well as technical and financial partners (ENABEL, FAO, UNEP, European Union, USAID, etc.).

The implementation strategy involves supporting access to funding in order to implement innovative and inclusive projects and actions through calls for project proposals, capacity building, information sharing, action research, and training.