IRI DRC holds the first IRI Equateur Advisory Council meeting

The first official meeting of the IRI Equateur Advisory Council was held at the Eala Botanical Garden as part of the provincial chapter launch. IRI Equateur is now composed of 26 members and is co-chaired by Bishop Theophile Duale, President of the Provincial Synod of the Church of Christ in Congo, and Archbishop Ernest Gboko of the Archdiocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro of the Catholic Church. The technical team set up by the Advisory Council is made up of four leaders: a supervisor, a communications focal point, an administrative support person, and a technical assistant, as well as four indigenous peoples’ representatives. At the first meeting, IRI Equateur made recommendations on the principles underlying their joint action plan, including: that actions carried out by different faith groups be recognized officially and be directly embedded within pastoral activities; that members of the IRI Equateur Advisory Council commit themselves to share IRI’s vision with faith communities including churches, schools, and members of civil society and report back during the next meeting; that members and trained stakeholders should all be equipped with the necessary tools and arguments in favour of the protection of forests at the national, provincial and local level; that adoption of the law on the rights of indigenous Pygmy peoples in the National Assembly is a guarantee for all and that securing land and forest rights for local communities and indigenous peoples through a participatory approach requires true dialogue between the different communities; that strategies put together to produce a collective action plan need to take into account policy reforms to reduce deforestation; and that the Advisory Council is committed to reminding decision makers of the importance of forests and our shared responsibility to protect God’s creation.