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CONGO BASIN: Did the One Forest Summit dodge massive deforestation?

The One Forest Summit closed on 2 March 2023 in Libreville, Gabon, leaving many conservationists thirsty. According to them, Central African leaders chose to sidestep the real threats to the Congo Basin forests in favour of a roadmap that risks being as sterile as those drawn up at other international forestry meetings. 

Six Central African heads of state met on 1-2 March 2023 in Gabon to discuss the future of tropical forests, including the Congo Basin. But more than a week after this meeting, questions are being asked about its relevance and effectiveness.

Greenpeace Africa is one of the environmental defenders and indigenous communities living in the Congo Basin who were left thirsty after the summit. « The One Forest Summit was like a parade used by participants to showcase their ‘altruistic’ side while dodging the real threats to the Congo Basin forests, » laments Irene Wabiwa, International Project Manager for the Congo Basin at Greenpeace Africa. The environmental activist points to the silence on the auctioning of 27 oil blocks and three gas blocks in a forest reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, as well as the case of Cameroon, where multiple agribusinesses such as Camvert and Sudcam are razing thousands of hectares of forest in the south of the country.

For environmentalists, the overriding need for the forests of the Congo Basin is not about funding. « We need this green heart of Africa to be effectively protected and that’s quite simple. We would have expected, for example, that strong and ambitious measures would have been taken to compel non-compliant states to comply with these measures without hesitation, » adds Irène Wabiwa Betoko.

Co-organised by French President Emmanuel Macron and Gabonese President Ali Bongo, the One Forest Summit resulted in the « Libreville Plan ». Among the main provisions of this document are the Positive Conservation Partnerships (PCP). This innovative financing initiative for forest conservation will be endowed with a €100 million fund and a mechanism for remunerating countries that are exemplary in preserving forests and safeguarding their vital carbon and biodiversity stockś, via « biodiversity certificateś.

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