Africa ahead.
Listen. Understand. Act.
Home > Environment > Preservation of the Congo Basin

Preservation of the Congo Basin

 

The Congo Basin is a huge tropical sub-region of the African continent. It is home to an exceptional natural heritage where humans and a rich biodiversity cohabit. The basin provides ecological services that are essential to living beings, such as supply and regulation services. However, the acceleration of human activities causes disturbances and damages that threaten the integrity and survival of the ecosystems.

An African and global issue

The rainforest with the best carbon footprint

Tropical forests account for nearly 52% of the world's forested area, containing 40-50% of terrestrial carbon. The forests of the Congo Basin provide ecological services at the global level, sequestering approximately 49.36 billion tons of carbon, thus limiting anthropogenic emissions and therefore the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. At the regional level, they participate in climate regulation through evapotranspiration. At the local level, they contribute to maintaining the hydrological cycle by controlling floods.

The basin's resources

Understanding the Congo Basin ecosystem requires a systemic approach to understand the river basin and the forests and peatlands that comprise it:

The Congo River has the largest river basin on the African continent, and the second largest in the world after the Amazon basin. It stretches over 4,700 kilometers, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. At its mouth, the flow is 40,000 m³/s, the most powerful in the world after the Amazon. The surface area of the watershed is approximately 3.7 million km². The basin includes Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, and finally the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which holds 63% of its surface.

 

The Congo Basin is the second largest set of tropical forests in the world after the Amazon Basin. They cover 1.8 million km², almost half the surface of the river basin. The forest massif extends over 6 countries in Central Africa (Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic). The area is home to more than 10,000 plant species and about 425 groups of mammals.

In the heart of these forests live more than 60 million people, who feed themselves through food agriculture. This agriculture also meets the needs of 40 million people living in the outlying urban areas. They are also rich in natural resources, including certain minerals that are essential to the material needs of the economy. They also contribute to carbon sequestration.

 

Peatlands are water-saturated areas where a type of moss, the sphagnum mosses, form a very dense fossil organic material: peat. They emit methane, but sequester carbon in large quantities. The Congo Basin peatlands are the largest tropical peatland complex in the world. They cover 167,600 km², and are located in the Central Cuvette between the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is estimated that they represent 36% of the world's tropical peatlands and sequester 29 billion tons of carbon (29 MgC). This amount would be equivalent to 28% of the total carbon sequestered in the world's tropical forests. However, only 8% of the peatlands in the basin are located in protected areas. Changes in land use, particularly for fossil fuel extraction, could lead to a significant release of carbon accumulated in peatlands. Preservation of the basin's peatlands is crucial to avoid the release of this carbon into the atmosphere, and thus slow the effects of climate change at the African and global level.

 

The dangers of anthropic pressure

The consequences of human activities threaten the Earth system, including the ecosystems of the Congo Basin. Local populations practice slash-and-burn agriculture, which consists of burning fields or forest areas and then cultivating them temporarily. Other practices to support local populations contribute to sustainable land degradation, compromise biodiversity integrity, and accelerate the crossing of other global boundaries.

In this region, industrial agriculture, illegal timber harvesting, and mining lead to deforestation. Approximately 44 million hectares of forest are under concession, or about 8.3% of the total forest area of the Congo Basin. The African continent is estimated to have 30% of the world's mineral reserves (diamonds, gold, coltan, etc.), of which about 60% are in the basin.

The Congo Basin Blue Fund

The Congo Basin Blue Fund (CBBF) is an African development fund that responds to climate issues on a continental and global scale. While aiming at regional integration and the well-being of populations, it finances projects based on the principles of green and blue economies in each of the countries involved in its governance. Based at the Development Bank of Central African States (BDEAC), it is the programmatic and financial tool of the Congo Basin Climate Commission (CBCC).

Towards a green and blue economy model

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the green economy is "low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive." According to the World Bank, the blue economy makes "sustainable use of ocean resources to promote economic growth, improve livelihoods and generate jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem." This definition can be extended to rivers, tributaries and wetlands.


The Congo Basin has all the characteristics to apply these two innovative economic principles. To this end, the Congo Basin Climate Commission was created in 2018 to foster inclusive and sustainable economic development in the sub-region. It currently has 16 member countries, with the support of the Kingdom of Morocco. Its long-term objectives are to preserve the basin's ecosystem and contribute to the socio-economic development of the populations.

A model of African governance

The governance model of the Congo Basin Blue Fund (CBBF) is based on the primacy of African competence:

 

1. a mechanism created by 17 African countries
2. co-financed by them
3. a multi-country fund located in Africa
4. managed by African and international experts
5. to create a sustainable economic, social
and environmental model for Africa

Arlette Soudan-Nonault

Minister of the Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin of the Republic of Congo, Technical Coordinator of the Congo Basin Blue Fund

The collegial governance of the CBCC is based on the consensus of the seventeen States involved, both at the level of the summit of Heads of State, which is the sovereign body, and of the executive committee composed of the Ministers of the Environment.

Arlette Soudan-Nonault

Minister of the Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin of the Republic of Congo, Technical Coordinator of the Congo Basin Blue Fund

The collegial governance of the CBCC is based on the consensus of the seventeen States involved, both at the level of the summit of Heads of State, which is the sovereign body, and of the executive committee composed of the Ministers of the Environment.

Arlette Soudan-Nonault

Minister of the Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin of the Republic of Congo, Technical Coordinator of the Congo Basin Blue Fund

The collegial governance of the CBCC is based on the consensus of the seventeen States involved, both at the level of the summit of Heads of State, which is the sovereign body, and of the executive committee composed of the Ministers of the Environment.

Blue Fund projects

The Congo Basin Blue Fund projects are organized around three priority areas:
1. Sustainable development - environmental and socio-economic issues.
2.Climate - adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer.
3.Politics - regional integration.

 

Twenty-four sectoral programs are derived from these priorities. They aim to promote the climate transition
and economically by relying on two levers:

1. Technical capacity building.
2. Financial capacity building through the mobilization of both private and public funds.

10 billion USD

of valorization

of the project pipeline

3.6 billion USD

distributed over sector programs 5 (hydroelectricity) and 10 (drinking water supply)

A factor of peace and regional integration

The effects of climate change in Africa tend to exacerbate existing social instability. According to Capelli et al. (2022), within a 500km radius of areas experiencing long-term changes in rainfall and temperature, the risk of conflict increases fourfold and fivefold respectively. The socio-economic costs due to the increase in the frequency of climatic disasters in the continent could make certain populations even more precarious. Beyond conflicts, the consequences of climate change in Africa may lead to massive migratory movements.

Sundeep Waslekar

President of Strategic Foresight Group India, member of the Brazzaville Foundation's advisory board and author of the CBBF pre-study in 2016

View his profile

Through joint management, water could become a factor for peace and cooperation. If the Blue Fund achieves its objectives, it will help mitigate climate change, create new employment opportunities related to river activities, and promote collective security in a region marked by instability.

Sundeep Waslekar

President of Strategic Foresight Group India, member of the Brazzaville Foundation's advisory board and author of the CBBF pre-study in 2016

View his profile

Through joint management, water could become a factor for peace and cooperation. If the Blue Fund achieves its objectives, it will help mitigate climate change, create new employment opportunities related to river activities, and promote collective security in a region marked by instability.

Sundeep Waslekar

President of Strategic Foresight Group India, member of the Advisory Board of the Brazzaville Foundation and author of the CBBF pre-study in 2016
View his profile

Through joint management, water could become a factor for peace and cooperation. If the Blue Fund achieves its objectives, it will help mitigate climate change, create new employment opportunities related to river activities, and promote collective security in a region marked by instability.

Role of the Foundation

The Brazzaville Foundation initiated the creation of the CBBF. In 2016, its experts produced a pre-study, suggesting that the countries of the Congo Basin collaborate at the sub-regional level to preserve this exceptional ecosystem while inventing another development model. It is on the basis of this study that the CBBF was launched during the COP22 in Marrakech, at the initiative of H.E. Denis Sassou N'Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo, with the support of H.M. King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Caption: Launch of the Congo Basin Blue Fund initiative at the First African Summit for Action on Continental Co-Emergence at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016, in the presence of Denis Sassou N'Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation.

At the first CBCC Heads of State and Government Summit in 2018, Mr. Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation, was appointed CBBF Goodwill Ambassador. Since 2016, the Brazzaville Foundation has provided technical support to the Fund, which was created in 2017 in Oyo, Republic of Congo, and formalised in 2018 with the creation of the CBCC.

Caption: Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Oyo in the Republic of Congo in 2017 creating the Congo Basin Blue Fund, in the presence of H.E. Denis Sassou N'Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo, Prince Michael of Kent, Royal Patron of the Brazzaville Foundation, Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman, and representatives of government and private sector experts

The Foundation co-developed the CBBF's advocacy and marketing communication strategy and created the pavilion presenting the Blue Fund at COP26, from November 1 to 12, 2021 in Glasgow. Ahead of this international event, it organized a high-level online roundtable "From COP22 to COP26: The Congo Basin Blue Fund, an African and global challenge", under the auspices of the CBCC, on June 29, 2021.

Caption: Presentation of the principles and projects included in the Congo Basin Blue Fund at COP26, in the presence of H.E. Denis Sassou N'Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo and of the CBCC; H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Mrs. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin and Technical Coordinator of the CBCC; Mrs. Eve Bazaiba, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Mr. Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation

The Foundation co-developed the CBBF's advocacy and marketing communication strategy and created the pavilion presenting the Blue Fund at COP26, from November 1 to 12, 2021 in Glasgow. Ahead of this international event, it organized a high-level online roundtable "From COP22 to COP26: The Congo Basin Blue Fund, an African and global challenge", under the auspices of the CBCC, on June 29, 2021.

Caption: Presentation of the principles and projects included in the Congo Basin Blue Fund at COP26, in the presence of H.E. Denis Sassou N'Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo and CCBC; H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Mr. Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation; Ms. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin and Technical Coordinator of the CBCC; Ms. Eve Bazaiba, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Blue Fund Partnership Framework

Institutional support

Member countries of the Congo Basin Climate Commission

Kingdom of Morocco

Republic
of Angola

Republic
of Burundi

Republic
of Cameroon

Central African Republic

Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Republic
of Gabon

Republic
of Guinea

Republic of Kenya

Republic of Uganda

Republic of Rwanda

Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe

Republic of South Sudan

United Republic of Tanzania

Republic
of Chad

Republic of Zambia

Blue Fund Goodwill Ambassadors

Appointed by the Heads of State and Government at the first CBCC Summit in April 2018:
- H.R.HPrincess Lalla Hasnaa, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection
- Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation
- Maria De Fatima Monteiro Jardim, former Minister of the Environment of Angola
- Lokua Kanza,  musician artist

Technical and financial partners

Foundation-Brazzaville
File 41
File 44
File 45

Perspectives

Strengthening advocacy: We continue to advocate for the preservation
of the Congo Basin at the international level.
Building capacity: We are working to build the capacity of the fund's stakeholders.

Perspectives

Strengthening advocacy: We continue to advocate for the preservation
of the Congo Basin at the international level.
Building capacity: We are working to build the capacity of the fund's stakeholders.

Perspectives

Strengthening advocacy: We continue to advocate for the preservation
of the Congo Basin at the international level.
Building capacity: We are working to build the capacity of the fund's stakeholders.

Documentary resources

08/11/2022
Brazzaville Foundation
Article

The Brazzaville Foundation at COP27: Listening to Africa's voice and making it heard

16/05/2022
La Revue des Transitions
Article

Preservation of the Congo Basin, an African and global issue

06/04/2022
Telesud
Interview

Interview of the day: Richard Amalvy presents the actions of Brazzaville Foundation

01/04/2022
Telesud
Interview

Preservation of the Congo Basin: Richard Amalvy interviewed at the World Water Forum in Dakar

31/03/2022
The Sun
Article

Congo Basin: Call to preserve the planet's first lung

28/03/2022
La Tribune Afrique
Interview

Richard Amalvy, Chief Executive of Brazzaville Foundation, talks about Congo Basin conservation at the Europe Africa Forum

1 2 ... 4 5

Glossary

Ecosystem services:
Ecosystems provide many services known as ecological or ecosystem services. Some of these services are vital to many species or groups of species (such as pollination) and are generally classified as common and/or public goods.

Anthropogenic activities:
An anthropogenic action or activity is something that has been carried out by human beings (and is therefore opposed to the natural state of things).

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs):
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gaseous components that absorb infrared radiation emitted by the earth's surface and thus contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Peatland:
A peatland is a wetland characterized by the fact that the synthesis of organic matter is more important than its degradation due to water saturation.

Carbon cycle:
The carbon cycle is a key component of the climate system. There are four reservoirs of carbon: the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, the biosphere and the atmosphere. The main part of the cycle is between the atmosphere, the surface layers of the soil and the oceans, and the biosphere (plants, animals...) which exchange carbon via natural processes such as respiration, photosynthesis or during the decomposition of the biosphere's components.

Sources

Megevand, C., Mosnier, A., Hourticq, J., Sanders K., Doetinchem, N., Streck C. (2013).
Deforestation
dynamicsin the Congo Basin. Banque mondiale.
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/12477/9780821398272.pdf?hootPostID=882d37156c7c8822334eadd90371b81b

De Wasseige C., Tadoum M., Eba'a Atyi R. and Doumenge C. (2015).
The
forests of the Congo Basin: Forests and climate change. Central African Forest Observatory of the Central African Forest Commission (OFAC/COMIFAC) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP)
https://agritrop.cirad.fr/578900/1/Forets%20du%20bassin%20du%20congo.pdf

Dalimier, J., Achard, F., Delhez, B., Desclée, B., Bourgoin, C., Eva, H.m Gourlet-Fleury, S., Hansen, M., Kibambe, J-P., Mortier, F., Ploton, P., Réjou-Méchain, M., Vancutsem, C., Jungers, Q., Defourny, P.
Distribution of
forest types and evolution according to their use. Center for International Forestry Research
https://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/SOF-2021-01.pdf

General presentation, World Record-river. International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin
https://www.cicos.int/non-classe/record-river-mondial/

Verhegghen, A., Mayaux, P., de Wasseige, C., & Defourny, P. (2012).
Mapping
Congo Basin vegetation types from 300 m and 1 km multi-sensor time series for carbon stocks and forest areas estimation. Biogeosciences, 9(12), 5061-5079.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-9-5061-2012

Papin, D., Balada, A., Lagadec, A., Pravettoni, R., Dedier, E. (2021)
The Congo Basin, the world's second largest carbon sink, between preservation and exploitation. Le Monde
https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/visuel/2021/10/29/le-bassin-du-congo-deuxieme-puits-de-carbone-du-monde-entre-preservation-et-exploitation_6100375_3244.html

Verhegghen, A., Mayaux, P., de Wasseige, C., & Defourny, P. (2012).
Mapping
Congo Basin vegetation types from 300 m and 1 km multi-sensor time series for carbon stocks and forest areas estimation. Biogeosciences, 9(12), 5061-5079.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-9-5061-2012

Réjou-Méchain, M., Mortier, F., Bastin, JF, et al.(2021).
Unveiling
African rainforest composition and vulnerability to global change. Nature 593, 90-94.
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03483-6

Crutzen, P. (2006).
The
"Anthropocene". Earth System Science In The Anthropocene, 13-18.
https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-26590-2_3

Pan, Y., Birdsey, R., Fang, J., Houghton, R., Kauppi, P., & Kurz, W. et al. (2011).
A
Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World's Forests. Science, 333(6045), 988-993.
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1201609

Leifeld, J., & Menichetti, L. (2018).
The
underappreciated potential of peatlands in global climate change mitigation strategies. Nature Communications, 9(1).
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-03406-6

Harris, N.L., Gibbs, D.A., Baccini, A. et al. (2021)
Global maps of twenty-first century forest carbon fluxes. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 234-240.
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00976-6

Dargie, G.C., Lawson, I.T., Rayden, T.J., et al. (2019).
Congo
Basin peatlands: threats and conservation priorities. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 24, 669-686.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-017-9774-8

Crezee, B., Dargie, G., Ewango, C., Mitchard, E., Emba B., O., & Kanyama T., J. et al. (2022).
Mapping
peat thickness and carbon stocks of the central Congo Basin using field data. Nature Geoscience.
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-022-01021-1

Cappelli, F., Conigliani, C., Consoli, D. et al. (2022).
Climate
change and armed conflicts in Africa: temporal persistence, non-linear climate impact and geographical spillovers. Econ Polit.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40888-022-00271-x

Other action in favour of the environment