$1.5bn pledge to support Congo Basin

London, Nov. 3, GNA – Eleven countries and the Bezos Earth Fund attending COP26 in Glasgow have pledged an initial $1.5 billion to support the Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest and the world’s largest carbon sink, providing half of all rainfall across Africa.

Current threats to the forests mean that there are risks to food and water security, undermining the livelihoods of the 80 million people who live in and around the region.

The financial support announced on Tuesday, in partnership with Congo Basin countries, will back initiatives such as the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), fund climate mitigation and adaptation and address the drivers of forest loss.

The countries to benefit from the investment that aims to protect and maintain the tropical forests and peatland areas are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

The President of the DRC, Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi, said: “There is no need to remind anyone here of the strategic role that the Congo Basin plays in maintaining the world’s ecological balance and in the development of our societies.

“Forests lived in and looked after by indigenous peoples and local communities contain almost a quarter of the carbon stored in the world’s tropical forests.

“Deforestation rates are much lower on land under their control.

“However, while one third of the world’s land is thought to be held and managed by these people, they have secure land rights on only 10 per cent of this land,” President Tshisekedi added.

In a joint statement, the donors recognised the critical contribution that was being derived from the Congo Basin forests in terms of mitigating global climate change.

They noted that the forests provided rainfall to large parts of African agriculture, hydropower production, biodiversity preservation and helping meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, including the pursuit of efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

“They provide a foundation for sustainable development and are critical to the livelihoods and culture of indigenous peoples and local communities,” the donors said.

“The statement is intended as a clarion call for greatly enhanced international focus on these forests.”

The funding is in response to calls from the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) Declaration for greater support and cooperation.

The Declaration recognises the protection of Congo Basin ecosystems as an integral part of the development process and reaffirms the signatories' commitment to work together to promote the sustainable use of Congo Basin forest ecosystems.