The key strategy of the APN is to provide experiential learning opportunities to practitioners working on social and environmental issues in forestry and agriculture in Central and West Africa.
Participants unanimously affirmed that they thought the APN is a useful and relevant organisation, and that all necessary efforts should be made to establish and maintain it.
The participants reviewed the APN’s pilot activities during 2014 and discussed issues including engagement with academic institutions and policy makers; partnerships; mentoring; monitoring and evaluation; and governance.
There was general agreement on a number of specific issues. Among others, participants expressed the views that:
- the APN should prioritise the creation of a critical body of experts in the region. These people will provide the foundation for a strong professional network of agriculture and forestry practitioners in the future.
- capacity building – particularly the practical experience programme –should be prioritised.
- the selection of training course participants should focus on people who are most likely to use the knowledge and skills in their future work.
- mentors for the practical experience programme also need guidance to help them combine their roles as Lead Auditors and Mentors.
- monitoring and evaluation of the programme should move beyond counting numbers of participants to look at the way in which participants use their training in their subsequent work.
Looking ahead to 2015
In 2015 the APN will continue to collaborate with the Rainforest Alliance, HCV Resource Network and the Sustainable West African Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP). Collaboration will also begin with new partners that include FSC, Tropenbos International, Cameroon Forest Certification Initiative, Client Earth, Resource Trust and WWF-CARPO.
On behalf of the APN, we thank all participants for their contributions and look forward to engaging with existing and new partners in 2015.
The Africa Practitioners’ Network is funded by the UK Department for International Development under the Africa Natural Resources Capacity Building Programme.