The International Model Forest Network Secretariat (IMFNS) and CUSO have agreed to work together and seek opportunities for cooperation to promote sustainable development around the world.
According to a Memorandum of Agreement signed on December 12, 2001, the IMFNS and CUSO will jointly identify and support the implementation of collaborative activities that promote community-based initiatives, local capacity building, and strengthening of the social fabric in several geographic areas around the globe.
“The IMFN Secretariat and CUSO share a common goal, which is to enhance capacity at the community level and encourage local initiatives as a means of finding meaningful and sustainable solutions to local development issues,” says Fred Johnson, Executive Director of the IMFNS. “Both organizations share Canada’s vision for the advancement of equality and sustainable development worldwide, and both organizations grew from Canadian seeds and have been further enriched through their international partnerships and experiences.”
Moreover, notes Claire Dansereau, Executive Director of CUSO, “CUSO has extensive experience in the creation of decentralized structures that service communities around the world. The IMFN Secretariat and CUSO can draw on CUSO’s experience to support the expansion of the IMFN, and to assist model forests to strengthen their partnerships and programming.”
The IMFN, which grew out of the Canadian Green Plan, promotes cooperation and collaboration to advance the management, conservation, and sustainable development of forest resources through a worldwide network of working model forests. Since its creation in 1992, it has expanded to 30 model forest sites established or in advanced stages of development in 12 countries on four continents, while several other countries are exploring the concept. The IMFNS is housed at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in Ottawa.
CUSO, a Canadian non-governmental organization dedicated to international cooperation, supports sustainable development in developing countries by helping reduce poverty, promoting democratic governance and human rights, and supporting sustainable and equitable natural resource management practices. Since 1961, CUSO has sponsored thousands of development projects around the world, mainly through its international volunteer-sending program, and with the help of its Canadian and regional officers located in 16 countries.
To advance their goals, the two institutions have agreed to develop joint projects and sponsor the placement of international cooperants to provide assistance to model forests located in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and possibly other regions.
Both parties are already working together in Chile, where Sylvain Legault, a CUSO cooperant, has been stationed at the Chiloé Model Forest, on Chiloé Island, since November 2000. Building on his work there, the IMFNS and CUSO intend to send more cooperants to Chiloé to expand collaboration, and to support the development of new model forest sites in Chile.
The two organizations will also work together to help facilitate the operation of the nascent Regional Model Forest Network for Latin America and the Caribbean, with a secretariat based in Santiago, Chile.
Another area where collaboration is foreseen is Southeast Asia, where the IMFNS and CUSO are discussing how to combine their efforts to further mutual objectives in this region. The partners will also explore the potential for expanding their collaboration to other areas of Asia and Africa.