The Paris Agreement and Implications for Congo Basin Forest Communities

 

 

 

… Many of them depend entirely on forests for their survival, but have been marginalized by the influx of logging and mining companies, and are now witnessing climate change threaten their food security, as wild fruits ripen prematurely, rivers dry up and subsistence hunting becomes more difficult. Their plight has invariably been ignored in global efforts to halt emissions. Paris was a chance to rectify that. But to what extent did it succeed?...

 

 

The negotiators who came to Paris from all corners of the earth for the climate change talks in December 2015 have long since dispersed. The colourful throngs of protestors are a distant memory. The world’s media have moved on to the next big story.

 

 

Now that the dust has settled on the latest international effort to prevent catastrophic rises in global temperatures, we can take stock of what the Paris Agreement, which wassigned on December 12, really means for those who are already feeling climate change’s devastating effects - specifically the forest communities of the Congo Basin, home to the second largest tropical forests in the world, after the Amazon’s.

 

 

Many of them depend entirely on forests for their survival, but have been marginalized by the influx of logging and mining companies, and are now witnessing climate change threaten their food security, as wild fruits ripen prematurely, rivers dry up and subsistence hunting becomes more difficult.

 

 

Their plight has invariably been ignored in global efforts to halt emissions. Paris was a chance to rectify that. But to what extent did it succeed?

Among the large groupings at the climate talks were civil society members and delegates from the Congo Basin, with the countries negotiating under the auspices of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS).

 

 

One of their central goals was spelled out by the DRC’s minister of environment: “We foresee the end of deforestation between 2020 and 2030. But someone has to pay the DRC’s efforts to re-establish its forests.”

 

 

This objective was broadly met, particularly in getting financial support for efforts to reduce deforestation in Congo Basin countries through the REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) financial mechanism.

 

 

The Paris Agreement includes forests and REDD+ prominently with a specific provision, article 5. This article calls on countries to conserve and maintain forests as sinks. It also recognised results based payments to forested countries, and sets a long-term goal of net zero emissions by 2050, acknowledging the importance of removals of greenhouse gases by forests.

 

 

In most Congo Basin countries REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposals (RPPs), which set out plans, budgets and schedules for implementing the programme, clearly identify forest communities as the key drivers of deforestation, whereas in reality, the biggest threat in the Congo Basin comes from the countries’ desire to become emerging markets and industrialise their economies through large scale land acquisition activities, such as industrial agriculture,  huge infrastructure construction projects, including dams, roads, ports and railway, mining and logging.

 

 

These have huge impacts on the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, especially on their rights to their land. So to curb this, Congo Basin countries have to develop and respect social and environmental safeguards when implementing REDD+ and they must be monitored, reported and verified.

 

 

For more Information, please check: HERE

 

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