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Democratic Republic of Congo gets $21.5 million green light to transform its vast forests
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has won approval of a $21.5 million grant from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) to jump-start sustainable management of its critically important forest sector to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and strengthen forest governance.
The Integrated REDD+ Project in the Mbuji-Mayi/Kananga and Kisangani Basins (PIREDD/MBKISS) will carry out a series of pilot initiatives to help reduce forest GHG emissions and poverty in large swaths of degraded savannah and closed forest areas. To be completed in five years, the $26.6 million project has been approved to receive a $21.50 million grant from the CIF’s Forest Investment Program (FIP), a DRC Government contribution of $4.4 million, and contributions of $.70 million by project beneficiaries. The project will be implemented with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), one of the CIF’s multilateral development bank partners and a mainstay for climate and development in Africa.
PIREDD/MBKISS is projected to save about 4 million tonnes of CO2 over 25 years. An estimated 400,000 people, 50% of which are women, are projected to receive direct benefits, and an additional 1.5 million inhabitants are expected to indirectly benefit from the work. Co-benefits will include better use of biodiversity, water, soil, and forest resources by local communities, job creation, enhanced health, and greater promotion of gender equality.
“This FIP grant is the first ever awarded by CIF to an African nation for forest action, and stands as a significant infusion of support for climate action and sustainability in some of the world’s most critical forests,” stated Mafalda Duarte, AfDB’s CIF coordinator and its chief climate change specialist. “At the AfDB, we see it as a signal of hope, ramping up the potential for coordinated action to protect DRC’s forests while at the same time increasing its citizens’ access to energy, sustainable livelihoods, and a move out of poverty. Importantly, the project is designed to ensure that all stakeholders are fully engaged in both design and implementation.”
The project is designed with an emphasis on collaboration among all stakeholders, who together agreed in the design stage on GHG reduction, land tenure, and food security as priority actions. Going into implementation, the project provides for integrating private sector, local communities, and civil society in sustainable forest management, forest plantations, and improving sustainable agriculture, land tenure security, and the wood-energy sector’s sustainability.
DR Congo is one of the world’s great forest nations, with two-thirds of the country endowed with tropical forest. The country houses 60% of the Congo Basin Forest system, the world’s second largest system, and stores up to 140 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a global “lung”. Today, however, the DRC forests are in serious jeopardy, with a large majority of DRC’s 60 million inhabitants depending heavily on the forests for small-scale farming and other livelihoods, negatively impacting the forests; and large-scale and illegal logging also remains a systemic problem. The DRC Government has developed a REDD National Strategy Framework to transform its forest sector by ramping up national and local coordination of REDD+, bolstering its institutional capacity for sustainable forest governance, increasing stakeholder involvement, and boosting the private sector’s willingness to invest.
The infusion of support from FIP and AfDB is a crucial element to ensure the project’s success. DRC is one of three African countries – along with Burkina Faso and Ghana – which have been selected to serve as FIP pilot countries in Africa supported by the AfDB. With FIP approval agreed, the project will now go to the AfDB Board of Directors for approval.