Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Matthew Cassetta, U.S. Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership
Washington, DC
December 17, 2012

Thank you, Ambassadors, colleagues and friends, for coming to support our exciting announcement today.

It is an honor for the U.S. to once again lead the Congo Basin Forest Partnership [CBFP] at such a pivotal time. I am excited to work again on African development and conservation, as earlier in my career I had the great pleasure to travel widely in Central Africa and to see firsthand some of the natural wonders and great potential the region holds.

We feel strongly that our Facilitation of the CBFP can work to shed light on some of the many positive things that are happening in central Africa that often go overlooked. As Facilitator, I take my outreach role very seriously, to communicate widely with all member countries and partner organizations as well as to represent the Partnership to others so that we can continue to build bridges, share information and explore new directions for collaboration in the region.

By serving as a platform for dialogue to promote conservation in central Africa, the CBFP is uniquely placed to help build institutions and strengthen capacity at the national and regional levels. By addressing emerging transnational threats to biodiversity, the CBFP also has great potential to strengthen peace, regional security, and the rule of law.

In furthering efforts to conserve the natural resources of the Congo Basin, we work not only to assure the existence of the region’s invaluable biodiversity but we also have a key economic role in sustaining the livelihoods of millions of people across the region. The active participation of key stakeholders, such as women and youth, is critically important to managing these resources. As today’s guardians and tomorrow's leaders, these stakeholders must be involved in the choices made affecting their region's legacy and heritage for future generations.

Once again, thank you all for your support and energy, and I look forward to working with you on the ground to advance our goals and to give the Congo Basin Forest Partnership the visibility it deserves on the world stage.