“Experts brainstorm on contribution of biodiversity and ecosystems to Cameroon’s development”, stated the headline in The Guardian Post Daily on 28 February 2019 after the interview with Ms. Prudence Galega, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED) and Chair of the ongoing National Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BES) Assessment. The bilingual National Trialogue event was held from 24 to 27 February 2019 in Mbankomo, Cameroon. The Trialogue hit both national newspaper headlines and radio news for the focus that it placed on engaging both scientists and national policymakers in dialogue on the fundamental role that nature plays in Cameroon’s development drive to achieve its Vision 2035, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post Growth and Employment Strategy.
Within the framework of BES-Net, and with facilitation and technical backstopping support of the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the leading scientists and experts from across Cameroon are working together to develop the country’s BES Assessment. The assessment is currently at a crucial stage for multi-stakeholder engagement, as the author team is finalizing the First Order Draft report and initiating peer-review. In order to achieve policy impact, the assessment needs to be demand-driven and policy-relevant, as per the guidance from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Against this backdrop, the National Trialogue on the Science-Policy Relevance of Cameroon’s BES Assessment was organized by BES-Net, MINEPDED and its local partner, the Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Central Africa (NESDA-CA) with the aim to:
- Review across and between First Order Draft Chapters for coherence and to ensure relevant policy questions are being addressed, where the gaps are, and how to improve where necessary;
- Understand the expectations of policy makers regarding the usefulness of the key findings for specific policy areas;
- Fine-tune policy questions where relevant, and add new ones if appropriate; and
- Agree on the purpose of the Summary for Policy-Makers and how it will draw on key policy-relevant findings.
In order to ensure an iterative process of multi-stakeholder engagement, the Trialogue was divided into two parts: i) the co-authors’ meeting as an opportunity to jointly read across all chapters to ensure synergy and consistency as an integrated document; and ii) an interactive policy-dialogue meeting between the authors’ team and the National Platform for Science-Policy Interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (NP-SPBES) to present the outputs of the co-authors’ meeting and refine further the assessment’s policy questions as per the latest government policy demands and priorities. Trialogue provided unique dialogic space, a trusted, technical and interactive environment, where the authors were able to compare and contrast the initial results of their research, identify gaps, and critically reflect on the extent to which their research addresses the key policy questions and areas of interest identified by NP-SPBES.
Although the event was not attended by indigenous people and local communities (IPLC) groups, the Trialogue methodology guided the participants in reflecting on and incorporating the diverse views and perspectives of three communities of science, policy and practice into the discussions. Accordingly, three significant agreements were reached by NP-SPBES as a way forward of the BES Assessment:
- Recognize explicitly IPLC for any data and information used in the assessment process, which are sourced through contributions from these groups;
- Create a section in the assessment which is dedicated to the values of rich and diverse indigenous and local knowledge on BES; and
- Adapt the IPBES-recognised “multiple-evidence based” approach, through which the representative members of IPLC can participate in the review of the Second Order Draft of the assessment.
For more details about the National Trialogue event, please click here.