Ambassador Barlerin’s Remarks at Cameroon environmental challenges

Ambassador Barlerin’s Remarks at
Cameroon environmental challenges: Water, forestry, and rangeland nexus symposium

February 26, 2018
Yaoundé, Cameroon

  • Minister of the Environment, the Protection of Nature, and Sustainable Development Pierre Hele
  • Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Henri Eyebe Ayissi
  • Minister of Energy and Water Resources Basile Atangana Kouna
  • Minister of Housing and Urban Development Jean Claude Mwentchou
  • Distinguished guests,
    Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a pleasure for me to speak at the official opening ceremony of this symposium on Cameroon’s environmental challenges, focusing on the nexus among water, forests, and rangeland.  Thank you to U.S. Africa Command, in particular Jeff Andrews, and Florida International University, especially Dr. Lakhdar Boukerrou, for organizing this event.

I’d also like to thank the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, who generously agreed to partner to put on this symposium here in Yaoundé at the beautiful Hilton Hotel.  The presence of several members of the Cameroonian government here this morning testifies to the strong relations between our countries.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to recognize our head of the Office of Security Cooperation here in Yaoundé, LTC Kevin Koerner.  He’s done so much to help build our partnership, and I am very much appreciative of his great work.

But most importantly, I’d like to thank you for taking time away from the press of daily business to discuss what we consider to be very important challenges; challenges that  Cameroon faces as it strives to identify how best to manage its incredible, beautiful, diverse, and bountiful natural resources.

I’ve had the opportunity to see a little bit of the country since arriving here, but I know it is only a taste and I cannot wait to see more.

As members of a global family, our gathering shows that we share common concerns and are mindful of our collective stewardship of the planet.  Like all countries, Cameroon and the United States have an obligation to the next generation to preserve the environment.

The United States partners with the Cameroonian government and local and international NGOs on issues such as illegal logging, wildlife trafficking, and unsustainable commercialization of the bush meat that threatens endangered animals.

As a founding partner of both the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and the Central African Forest Commission, Cameroon promotes the conservation and sustainable management of the Congo River Basin ecosystem.

U.S. government agencies, such as the USAID, through its Central African Regional Program for the Environment, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have small but I believe important environmental partnerships with Cameroon as well.

The Environmental Security Program of the U.S. Department of Defense promotes cooperation among military and non-military stakeholders in water and environmental security.

The program encourages dialogue among partner countries to raise awareness of scientific and technical environmental challenges.

Some African countries are currently facing major challenges with water and environmental resources.  Countries in the Lake Chad Basin, as well as in the Sahel, will experience major water shortages if resources are not managed sustainably.

When conflicts erupt, they generate increased demand for natural resources.  Environment-related conflicts also lead to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, people who are forced to leave their homes to find refuge elsewhere inside or outside the country.

In part, one could say that the phenomenon of Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa is a manifestation of long term environmental and development challenges in the Lake Chad Basin.

One objective of today’s symposium is to promote inter-ministerial cooperation on Cameroon’s environmental security.  I understand you’ll be discussing subjects like the implications of water scarcity for public safety management; the role of military and non-military stakeholders in conflict prevention and advocacy efforts; environmental considerations in peacekeeping operations; and cooperation between military and other stakeholders.  Additionally, there will be technical exchanges dealing with military environmental and engineering programs, health, water resources management, and sanitation.

The partnership between the United States and Cameroon is broadening and deepening.  Our country is committed to supporting Cameroon’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of its water resource and environmental management.  In this spirit, it behooves us to combine our efforts to find durable and sustainable solutions to the security of our water and environment.

Thank you for coming, and I sincerely hope you all have an eye-opening great experience over the next couple of days.