“Africa can, and will, benefit from bamboo and rattan” – INBAR’s newest member joins a network which is piloting nature-based solutions for sustainable development across Africa.

13 September, Beijing – The Central African Republic has joined INBAR, marking a significant new commitment by the country to green growth and environmentally sustainable development.

Speaking at the flag raising ceremony in Beijing, the Central African Republic’s Ambassador to Beijing, H.E. Jean Pierre Mbazoa, said his country’s accession should be a positive move for green growth. “Like a large number of countries in the tropics and subtropics, in the Central African Republic we are very familiar with bamboo and rattan – but we have yet to realise the full potential of these plants.” Mbazoa cited bamboo’s potential to create jobs, reduce pressure on our forest resources, and make durable products which can be used for infrastructure and housing, as particularly important for his country.

Bamboo is a fast-growing grass which is found across the tropics and subtropics, including an estimated 6 million hectares across Africa. INBAR’s 19 African Members already use bamboo and rattan for a wide range of uses, including as household energy, to restore degraded land, and to create handicrafts and household goods. One particular benefit of bamboo on the continent is its ability to substitute timber in products, reducing pressure on stressed forest resources. This is particularly important for the Central African Republic, whose rich forest resources [see featured image] boast a large variety of wildlife. In his speech to attendees, Mbazoa stressed “the importance of protecting our forests and water resources, and promoting ‘green’ socio-economic development… Africa, and the Central African Republic, can and will benefit from bamboo and rattan!”

The Central African Republic Ambassador, H.E. Jean Pierre Mbazoa, speaking at the ceremony: “Africa, and the Central African Republic, can and will benefit from bamboo and rattan.”

As INBAR’s 44th Member state, the Central African Republic will become part of a global network that aims to realise bamboo and rattan’s full potential for green growth and sustainable development. Over the course of the last year, INBAR has become an Observer to the UN General Assembly, welcomed two African Presidents to its Headquarters in Beijing, and launched a number of important new commitments and projects at the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress, held in June. Speaking on behalf of the INBAR Council, H.E. Mr. Carlos Larrea Dávila, Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador, explained that “INBAR’s mandate is to encourage the use of bamboo and rattan for sustainable development… by conducting important research and projects, and raising the profile of bamboo and rattan on the world stage.”

Bamboo and rattan are also an increasingly important part of Sino-African relations, as the recent Forum on China-Africa Cooperation showed. These plants were mentioned by name by President Xi, in a speech during which he also announced the launch of a new Sino-African Bamboo Centre. The Centre, which is the result of long-term bilateral discussions, will act as a hub for training, investment and research into the many uses of bamboo for sustainable development objectives. The ‘Beijing Plan’, which was agreed by heads of state at the Forum, also includes bamboo and rattan, stating that China and Africa “will work together to … actively support Africa’s capacity-building in the sustainable management of bamboo and rattan resources, the innovative development of bamboo and rattan industries, the development of their products and poverty alleviation, and relevant industrial policy and standardization.”

According to Hans Friederich, Director General of INBAR, 2018 is an auspicious year to welcome the Central African Republic. “INBAR’s largest concentration of Members is in Africa, and with the recent launch of our new Regional Office for Central Africa, we are more coordinated and capable than ever before. We are delighted to welcome the Central African Republic into the INBAR family, and hope that together we can achieve great things for nature-based sustainable development.”

In her speech to attendees, Madame Jiang Zehui, co-Chair of INBAR’s Board of Trustees, expressed her hope that “the collaboration of the Central African Republic and INBAR will create many opportunities for the development of the bamboo and rattan industry in the Central African Republic, and bring INBAR a step closer to achieving our ambitious development, climate and environmental aims.”

Speaking on behalf of China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Hu Zhangcui reiterated the Chinese government’s close relationship with the Central African Republic and its willingness to work closely with the country to realise bamboo and rattan’s potential for sustainable development.

We welcome the Central African Republic to INBAR!

INBAR Director General Hans Friederich and Ambassador Jean Pierre Mbazoa raising the Central African Republic’s flag outside INBAR Headquarters