Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes and first Council Meeting for the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP)
5-9 September 2005 | Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Daily Web Coverage

 Summary report




12 September 2005

Highlights from Friday, 9 September 2005

The Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM) resumed on Friday morning with its high-level segment. The morning and early afternoon featured statements by several ministers and other heads of delegation. The IGM then adopted the Global Strategy and Kinshasa Declaration. The IGM concluded with the signing of the Kinshasa Declaration before Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, closed the meeting.

Morning Session

IGM Chair D. E. Musibono and Secretary General Samy Mankoto opened the high-level segment by welcoming participants and outlining the day’s agenda. Secretary General Monkoto also introduced Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, UNEP, and Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director General, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO, and expressed his appreciation to the many individuals who helped organize the GRASP Council meeting and IGM.

Delegates then heard statements from ministers, heads of delegation, and non-governmental organizations.

Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, joins the IGM dais


Jim Knight, Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity, United Kingdom, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to GRASP and noted that efforts must be made to engage local populations in conservation, and that even relatively small amounts of money can make a huge difference. He referenced the link between this meeting and the recent G8 commitment to Africa, and noted that the Kinshasa declaration will send a signal to the upcoming Millennium Review Summit. Henri Djombo, Minister of Forest Economy and Environment, Republic of Congo, noted that a common problem is the lack of resources to effectively combat poaching and a lack of technical support. He called on donors to provide funding and on international NGOs to work with national NGOs.

Jim Knight, (MP) Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity -DEFRA- United Kingdom
Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry and Environment of the Republic
of Congo – Brazzaville
Former Governing Council President Arcado Ntagazwa, MP and Minister of State (Tanzania)

Egbé Hillman Achuo, Minister of Forests and Water, Cameroon, summarized his country’s efforts to protect great apes, and appealed to donor countries to provide funding. Jean-Eudes Teya, Minister of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing, Central African Republic, cited the need for political stability and economic development to protect great apes. David Zeller, International Rangers Federation, stressed the dangerous role of rangers in protecting great apes, and the need for training and appropriate equipment. Andrews Adjei-Yeboah, Deputy Minister for Lands, Forestry & Mines, Ghana, stressed his country’s willingness to adhere to all of the GRASP commitments. Arcado Ntagazwa, Minister of State, Vice-President’s Office, Environment, Tanzania noted that environmental degradation in Tanzania is mainly a development problem. Aselme Enerunga, Minister of Environment, Conservation, Water and Forests, DRC, noted that the Global Strategy is a source of inspiration for countries that need to develop and implement national action plans.

David Zeller, President of the International Ranger Federation
Fourteen DRC Rangers, proud and pleased after a
training course, Virunga National Park.

Five years later, at the time of the World Park Congress 2003, twelve of the fourteen rangers had lost their lives in the line of duty. The only survivors to date are the two rangers on the extreme left and right of the group photo.

Photo credit: Jobogo Mirindi

Ian Singleton, Sumatran Orangutan Protection Project gave an overview of the challenges to protect orangutans in Indonesia and Borneo. Pasteur Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa, “Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature”, cited work underway in the DRC to take into account great apes both within and outside protected areas.

Joao José Martins Lopes de Carvalho, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Guinea Bissau, referenced his country’s work with two universities in Portugal, and with IUCN, to create inventories of chimpanzees. A representative of a coalition of DRC NGOs highlighted the active participation of national NGOs in various great apes projects. Graciano Domingos, Deputy Minister, Urbanization and Environment, Angola, noted the degree to which military instability has exacerbated the plight of the great apes.

Jonas Nagahudi Mbongu, Executive Director, COMIFAC, highlighted COMIFAC’s concern with conservation of fauna, and its endorsement of the Kinshasa Declaration.  Anne-Marie Kalanga, representing local media, stated that the local media has a role in disseminating information on great apes, and that local populations are largely unaware of problems facing the great apes. Chair Musibono summarized the presentations, highlighting the desire to move from rhetoric to specific deed, and from promises to action.

Dr. Ian Singleton, Scientific Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme
Graciano Domingos, Vice-Minister of Urbanization and Environment of Angola
Anne-Marie Kalanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Global Strategy for the survival of great apes and their habitat

In the afternoon, the IGM reconvened, following the launch of the World Atlas of Great Apes. Delegates adopted the Global Strategy, with the overall goal of lifting the threat of imminent extinction facing most populations of great apes and to make sure that, where great apes interact with people, those interactions are mutually positive and sustainable.

Chair Musibono then introduced the draft Kinshasa Declaration and gave delegates an opportunity to consider the text while hearing further statements. Prof Toshisada Nishida, GRASP Patron and representative of the newly founded GRASP Japan, described their work, highlighting 7 major projects including ones in Kalimantan, Indonesia, South East Guinea, and Tanzania.

Denys Gauer, Ambassador for the Environment, France, emphasized the importance of forging links between the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and the GRASP partnership. He said France would now consider how it could provide assistance in supporting GRASP.

Roger A. Meece, United States Ambassador, informed delegates of the United States contributions to the Congo Basin Forest Project through the Central Africa Regional Programme for the Environment (CARPE), noting that a number of CARPE projects are of direct benefit to the great apes. He said the United States is building a global Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking to focus political and public attention on the problem.

Professor Toshisada Nishida

United States Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Roger A. Meece

Dr Noriaki Sakaguchi, Assistant Director Wildlife Division, Nature Conservation Bureau, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, said Japan fully supports the GRASP partnership.

Urging joint action to conserve the great apes, Michel van den Bossche of the EuropeAid Co-Operation Office of the European Commission urged finding solutions which can be tested at the local level through partnership between international partners, range States, and local communities. He called for the mainstreaming of the survival of the great apes in long term sustainable development, building on the impetus started by the GRASP Partnership and this IGM-1. He confirmed the EU’s support for GRASP to facilitate this process.

Bernard de Schrevel, Attaché for Development Cooperation, Food and Security Sector, Belgium, endorsed the GRASP Partnership, said Belgium is exploring possibilities to fund GRASP activities, and welcomed the UK and France as donor country partners of GRASP.

Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary UNEP/CMS Secretariat and representing the Biodiversity Liaison Group, said that this meeting was a personal dream of his as a founding member of GRASP. He announced a new project, co-sponsored by the CMS, UNEP, UNESCO, and others, facilitating the preparation and negotiation with governments of 10 range states an agreement and action plan under Article IV of the CMS to guarantee the protection of gorillas.

The session ended with statements from NGOs. The Orangutan Foundation reaffirmed her commitment to GRASP. Local NGOs Programme for the protection and development of fauna and flora (PDPF) and Pole Pole Foundation reported on successful projects undertaken with the support of the GRASP Partnership.

Delegates then adopted the Kinshasa Declaration, and agreed to a call from the Republic of Congo to include a commitment by Donor Partners to provide financial support to GRASP programmes and national programmes in the body of the report of the meeting.

Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP addresses the GRASP IGM High-Level Segment
Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Secretary, chat with Melanie Virtue, UNEP GRASP Secretariat

Closing ceremony

Following signature of the Kinshasa Declaration by International Agencies, NGOs and other civil society and private sector representatives, the closing ceremony of IGM-1 took place under the patronage of President Joseph Kabila, DRC, represented by Vice-President Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi.

Prof. Richard Wrangham, Patron of GRASP, speaking also on behalf of Prof. Toshisada Nishida, congratulated the GRASP Partnership highlighting its contribution to great ape data and noting the trend towards great ape extinction. He noted successful models for reversing the universal trend towards extinction of the great apes. He concluded by suggesting great apes and their habitat can be considered of outstanding universal value under the World Heritage Convention and, therefore great ape habitats should be designated as World Heritage sites and great apes as the first World Heritage species.

Walter Erdelen, on behalf of the Director General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, urged an integrated multidisciplinary approach with strong political commitment, and highlighted the encouraging presence at this IGM-1. He said in this decade for sustainable development, there is a need to include the great apes within sustainable development strategies.

Finally, Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, on behalf of the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, underscored man’s close relationship with the great apes and said we have not treated them with respect. He highlighted successes, emphasized cooperation to mobilize the needed money, expertise and equipment, and said this IGM-1 had made great progress in charting the way forward. As UNEP Executive Director, he emphasized UNEP’s involvement in the GRASP Partnership and the interlinking of the survival of the great apes with the fight against poverty and highlighted the upcoming 2005 World Summit in New York.

The Kinshasa Declaration was then read out to the delegates by Melanie Virtue, GRASP Deputy Secretary General, and signed by range ministers, donor ministers, UNEP, UNESCO and COMIFAC. Vice President Ndombasi closed the IGM at 7.40pm.


Ivory carvings for sale in the Kinshasa market on 9 September 2005

Daily web coverage: 5 September - 6 September - 7 September - 8 September - 9 September
Relevant Links

Information and documents for the meeting
GRASP Newsletter: Published by UNEP and UNESCO, this newsletter provides up to date information on great ape species conservation
World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation: The UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) has recently published a report providing a comprehensive review of great apes, including a description of their ecology, distribution and key threats that each great ape species faces. The Atlas includes an assessment of the current status of great ape species in each of the countries where they are found, together with an overview of current conservation action and priorities, illustrated with maps:
CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is endeavoring to combat illegal international trade in apes for human consumption as bushmeat or to be kept live by private individuals, zoos and entertainment businesses. For more information, see: and http:/ 
CBD: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is involved in the debate on the effects of the bushmeat trade on biodiversity resources and is working on a cross-cutting international initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition. For more information, see: and
CMS: The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) is concentrating on the eastern species of gorilla, which crosses the mountainous border areas between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo - more information
FAO: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is increasingly concerned with the issue of bushmeat and the conciliation of food security and biodiversity conservation in Africa - more information
IUCN: IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species includes information on great apes threatened with extinction - more information

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