COP26: $500 million to protect the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo


In addition to the commitment by more than 100 countries to reverse deforestation by 2030, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a joint statement on behalf of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) confirming a 10-year agreement (2021-2031) to protect the Congo Basin's tropical forests.

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The agreement, which takes into account all of the country's economic sectors, will unlock $500 million in multi-donor investments on the ground between 2021 and 2026.

"With its forests, water and mineral resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a true solution to the climate crisis. To protect our forest and promote its sustainable management, our priority under this new partnership is to strengthen governance and transparency in all land use sectors. This partnership will also support our ambition to address the dual challenge of food security and climate change through sustainable agriculture, mainly in the savannahs," said Félix Tshisekedi.

Through this new 10-year partnership, the DRC aims first to cap the loss of forest cover at its 2014-2018 average and reverse deforestation. The partnership will also promote the regeneration of 8 million hectares of degraded land and forests, and place 30% of national areas under protected status, including areas where local communities are undertaking efforts to manage forests sustainably.

In a context of high demographic pressure, forest loss in DRC is mainly due to a growing population with few livelihoods outside of forest-related income and a reliance on fuelwood for cooking, all in the absence of land-use planning. Any proposed solution to forest loss in DRC must therefore focus on rural development, poverty reduction and improved food security.

CAFI support of $500 million over the first five years more than doubles the $190 million provided under the first letter of intent (2015-2020), whose objectives were achieved through a portfolio of twenty programs that supported large-scale agricultural, land-use planning, and land tenure reforms, shifted agricultural activities to tens of thousands of hectares of savannah, and improved the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.

The announcement at COP26 concludes months of discussions between CAFI donors and DRC ministers, in which national civil society has been fully involved. The press release of the Renewed REDD+ climate working group of the environmental civil society is available here.

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