The WWF is run at a local level by the following offices...
- WWF Global
- Central African Republic
- Central America
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- European Policy Office
Ntokou Pikounda National Park
Legacy and the ongoing development of a park management plan
The park’s creation in 2013 by the RoC government, with support from the WCS, preceded 2019 national legislation for Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for Indigenous Peoples. Concerns about the perceived lack of adequate consultation at the time of the park’s creation produced, and continues to contribute to, ongoing tensions, particularly in relation to access restrictions.
Starting in 2019, subsequent to entering into a co-management agreement with the government, WWF initiated a participatory mapping exercise with communities in recognition of this history. In accordance with WWF’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework, more specifically the Safeguard on Restriction of Access, WWF initiated this exercise with communities to produce maps that represent areas of importance related to food and other natural resources, cultural practices, recreational activities, access routes and any other interests and priorities of the community.
The aim is to provide a tool in consultation with communities for the zoning of the park by including integral protection zones, exploitation zones and transitional "buffer" zones between the other two types of zones. The identification of each community's usage zones will then be used as a tool for the drawing up of the park’s Development Plan, which will itself be based on multi-stakeholder dialogue that will make it possible to provide the basis for an acceptable and accepted system of regulation as regards access rules, and the use of natural resources in the park.
In 2021, WWF initiated a socio-economic study of NPNP which highlighted the high reliance of two Indigenous Peoples groups – the Balouma and the Bonguili – on subsistence fishing on rivers that flow through the park. This study has been used to inform the ongoing implementation of WWF’s safeguards framework in the landscape.
A process to create a formal management plan for the park is underway in collaboration with the government. That plan will draw on multiple studies and information sources, including the participatory mapping, the socio-economic study, and a wildlife census that is due to be undertaken in 2024.
In some cases, activities have been slowed by a lack of secured financial or staff capacity. The chronic under-funding of the landscape has impacted the undertaking of the participatory mapping exercise with communities, as referred to above, as well as the establishment and ongoing support of the multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) and sustaining an effective grievance mechanism, as described in the sections below. Seeking sustainable funding and partners necessary for the delivery of activities in the Park, including the important work in support of and for the benefit of local populations, is an essential part of WWF’s ongoing efforts related to NPNP.
WWF and the government are currently in a process of evaluating the partnership and discussing a renewal of the co-management agreement. Any renewal of the agreement will be an opportunity for the government and WWF to strengthen and reaffirm mutual commitment to respect human rights and the government’s obligation to protect those rights, consistent with legislation of the Republic of Congo and WWF’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) and Statements of Principle. The park must be run in a way that respects and meets the needs of local communities and Indigenous Peoples living in and around it.
The implementation of WWF’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) in NPNP commenced in 2020. The safeguards screening has since been finalized, while an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Environmental and Social Mitigation Framework (ESMF) are in the final stages of completion. The safeguards on Indigenous Peoples, Community Health, Safety and Security and Restriction of Access have been determined as applicable to WWF's activities in NPNP, together with the safeguards on Stakeholder Engagement and Grievance Mechanisms which are applied in all cases.
The development of the ESIA and the ESMF have been heavily informed by comprehensive consultations with communities bordering the park. These consultations were designed with particular attention paid to engaging with Indigenous Peoples, women and vulnerable groups or those at high risk of being made vulnerable. In total, meetings with communities took place in 25 localities, distributed throughout the periphery of the park. A total of 493 people participated in the consultations (218 women and 275 men, of which 102 were members of Indigenous communities).
The consultative process underpinning the step-wise implementation of WWF’s ESSF has proven valuable in identifying specific challenges and mitigations to address them. These outputs will also inform the development of foundational requirements for the sustainability of the park such as the management plan of the park and the agreement between WWF and the government.
Risk mitigation is an ongoing process and adaptive management is a necessary and important concept in the context of PCAs like NPNP. WWF is committed to listening, learning and reflecting on how PCAs need to be improved and to play an active role in engaging all key stakeholders as we do so