The Kampala Protea Hotel is the venue today for the tripartite meeting of experts from Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo DR, discussing transboundary cooperation and collaborative management of the ecosystems, not just limited to the Virunga mountain range where the rare mountain gorillas are found in the high altitude rainforests of the border triangle, but now also extended to address common issues for parks like Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori and Semliki.
Initially spurred by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme and other stakeholders including leading conservation NGOs, the cooperation between the three partners, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Rwanda Development Board Tourism and Conservation and the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature has as a result intensified and the three bodies now meet regularly to discuss and decide upon matters of mutual concern and interest.
Tourism stakeholders and the conservation fraternity at large are frequently able to interact with the main conservation organizations and give input and feedback before measures are being decided and implemented, making it an important consultative platform too.
The Regional Transboundary Forum is one of six organs of the transboundary collaboration as identified in the draft treaty on the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration. The others are the Summit of Heads of States and Government; the Council of Ministers; the Board; the Executive Secretariat and the Regional Technical Committees.
The biannual Regional Transboundary Forum is a meeting of a broad spectrum of stakeholders, based on the theme selected for each specific meeting and the location migrates from country to country to allow locals to be part of the proceedings too at regular intervals. The event is meant to highlight the importance of transboundary collaboration and stakeholder engagement. The forum is also meant as a platform to update the stakeholders on the status of implementation of the transboundary strategic plan. The stakeholders also use the opportunity to update each other on their various programmes and activities and have an opportunity to exchange ideas related to transboundary collaboration.
Todays regional forum has four specific objectives on the agenda as listed below:
· Raise awareness amongst the different stakeholders about the importance of transboundary collaboration
· Provide stakeholders with information on the work of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration.
· Provide opportunity to strengthen partnerships and initiate/develop new ones
· Consolidate current development partner support and identify and develop new support identified and developed.