Humanitarian and environmental organizations call for sustainable and beneficial management of landscapes hosting displaced persons

Download the press release in French

The Central African region is affected by several humanitarian crises, which has resulted in a high number of displaced persons (refugees and internally displaced persons), particularly in the Central African Republic, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The influx of displaced people has led to an increase in demand for natural resources for construction materials, firewood and livelihood activities, often exceeding the carrying capacity of the environment. The consequences include land degradation, biodiversity loss, as well as tensions and conflicts between displaced people and host communities.

This is why during an online forum entitled “Displaced people in multifunctional landscapes in Central Africa: Challenges and opportunities for sustainable management”, organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Research Center in agroforestry (ICRAF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on February 26 2021, the representatives of the main humanitarian and environmental organizations working in Central Africa called for a joint effort to ensure that the sustainable management of natural resources is placed at the core of humanitarian responses.

Participating organizations include the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations for Food and Agriculture (FAO), and Sustainable Development Engineering (I2D).

“It is about time that we bridge the gap between humanitarian and development actors. We must work together to improve the living conditions of displaced people and host communities, as well as to find sustainable solutions to reduce negative impacts on the environment,” said Olivier Beer, UNHCR representative in Cameroon.

This event was the first step of an initiative aimed at raising awareness among different actors on the importance of working together in multifunctional landscapes and of having medium and long-term humanitarian and development programming as part of the link between migration, energy and the environment. It builds on the successful experiences of CIFOR-ICRAF, UNHCR and FAO to strengthen environmental resilience in landscapes hosting displaced populations in the Far North and East regions of Cameroon, and in the cross-border landscape of the Great Lakes (DRC, Rwanda and Burundi).

“We need to work in partnership to have a transformative impact. This is why we call on the various actors working in support of displaced populations to join this working group to share experiences, find synergies and make this issue a priority,” said Richard Eba’a Atyi, regional coordinator of CIFOR in Central Africa.

The recording of the event is now available online.

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This event was organized as part of the CIFOR-ICRAF Refugee-Hosting Engagement Landscape in Central and Eastern Africa and the project Governing Multifunctional Landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa, which is financed by the European Union.