In the Congo Basin countries, civil society’s participation in public debates has historically been very timid, and they have operated in a very restricted space. However the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU has paved the way for a multi-stakeholder approach to developing public policies.
That's partly because of support from organisations like Fern and other NGOs working in the region, and also because the nature of the VPA requires that all stakeholders are at the table and have a say in negotiations.
It was significant that civil society was able to participate effectively in forest legal reforms in 2018 that were instigated by the VPAs.
In the Republic of Congo (RoC), for example, civil society contributed to the draft Forest Code. They were able to include recommendations related to community forestry and the halting of the illegal conversion of forests.